Article about fixing street lights

Hi all – Below please find parts of an article that I pulled off of The link is to a pdf of the city plan to replace old streetlight bulbs with new bulbs, and then to fix broken street lights. I thought you all would want to be kept up to date, since our neighborhood is on the list for fixing.

Street Light Fix Map

From “Darkened streets as harbors for crime has become a near-universal complaint this summer at both community meetings and crime scenes across New Orleans. And the clamor for action has begun to dog City Hall as aides and officials cobble together Landrieu’s 2015 spending plan.

Landrieu has had to answer questions about particular street lights at four community budget hearings so far, and will likely field similar queries at Wednesday’s 6 p.m. meeting in the Arthur Ashe Charter School in Gentilly. In response, he has continued to point to $16.4 million the City Council set aside this year to replace all standard bulbs with energy-efficient ones and to begin large-scale, systematic overhauls of damaged street lights.

“We are in the process right now of retrofitting lights all across the city,” Landrieu told an audience at Touro Synagogue Tuesday night.

But the $16.4 million has its limits: it’s one-time money and only $1.7 million of it is dedicated to in-depth infrastructure repairs. The rest will be spent on changing out the city’s remaining standard lights for LEDs. Unlike Jefferson Parish, which has a property tax devoted to street light maintenance, New Orleans must pull from its capital budget, Landrieu said.

The Public Works Department has prioritized repairs to the 800 or so damaged lights gone dark on Interstate 10 and other state highways that cut across town. That work began in July and once it’s complete, the administration will turn its attention to the city’s neighborhoods, Public Works Director Mark Jernigan said.

“We wanted to get the most bang for the buck here,” he said. “The most critical need that we thought we had from a public safety standpoint was on the Interstate, particularly in New Orleans East.”

The city agreed to maintain the I-10 lights when the state installed them after building the highway system in the middle of the last century.

That focus, the lack of money and the widespread need to repair lights throughout New Orleans, has led city crews to be less nimble in responding to particular complaints. Landrieu’s aides often point out that more than 43,000 lights have been fixed since he took office in 2010 and that 17,000 bulbs converted to LEDs under a previous program. But damage to wires, poles and conduits in some places is so extensive that a quick fix would amount to little more than a temporary Band-Aid.

Jernigan said that city engineers were still assessing the scope of the problem as they execute the city’s $14.7 million bulb-replacement effort — known as the “Energy Smart” program financed by fees on New Orleans customers’ monthly electricity bills. That program to replace about 19,800 bulbs should wrap up in less than a year.

City officials were vague about which neighborhoods are likely to be prioritized should more money for street lights become available. But Jernigan hinted that the order of neighborhoods under the Energy Smart program could serve as a template for a schedule for larger scale repairs down the road:

Neighborhoods, listed by priority, with streetlights replaced under the Energy Smart program
Neighborhood – West Bank District Scheduled Conversion Status
Behrman C Complete
McDonogh C Complete
Tall Timbers – Brechtel C Complete
US Naval Base C Complete
Whitney C Complete
Algiers Point C TBD Planning
Old Aurora C TBD Planning
New Aurora/English Turn C TBD Planning

Neighborhood – East Bank District Scheduled Conversion Status
Seventh Ward CD Jul-14 Complete
Gert Town AB Jul-14 Complete
Central City B Jul-14 Complete
St. Roch CD Jul-14 Complete
BW Cooper B Jul-14 Complete
Little Woods E Jul-14 Complete
Hollygrove A Jul-14 Complete
Gentilly Woods D Jul-14 Complete
Mid City AB Jul-14 Complete
St Bernard D Jul-14 Complete
Broadmoor AB July-Aug 2014 Complete
Dixon A July-Aug 2014 Complete
Gentilly Terrace D Aug-14 Complete
Fairgrounds AD Aug-14 Complete
Filmore AD Aug-14 Complete
Lower Ninth Ward E Aug-14 Complete
Bywater D Aug-14 Complete
Milan B Aug-14 In progress
Dillard D Aug-14 In progress
Read Blvd East E Aug-14 In progress
Leonidas A Aug-14 In progress
Holy Cross E Aug-14 In progress
Read Blvd West E Aug-14 In progress
St Claude CD Aug-14 In progress
Treme-Lafitte CD Aug-Sept 2014 Planning
West Lake Forest E Sep-14 Planning
Marlyville-Fontainebleau AB Sep-14 Planning
Pontchartrain Park D Sep-14 Planning
Pines Village D Sep-14 Planning
Milneburg D Sep-14 Planning
Lower Garden District & St Thomas Development B Sep-14 Planning
Desire Area D Sep-14 Planning
Tulane-Gravier B Sep-14 Planning
Uptown B Sep-14 Planning
Plum Orchard E Sep-14 Planning
Marigny C Sep-14 Planning
City Park A Sep-14 Planning
East Riverside B Sep-14 Planning
Audubon A Sep-14 Planning
Irish Channel B Sep-14 Planning
Black Pearl A TBD Planning
Lake Terrace & Oaks D TBD Planning
East Carrollton A TBD Planning
Lakeshore-Lake Vista D TBD Planning
West Riverside AB TBD Planning
Lakewood A TBD Planning
Garden District B TBD Planning
Bayou St John A TBD Planning
Lakeview A TBD Planning
St Anthony D TBD Planning
Viavant E TBD Planning
Village de Lest E TBD Planning
Navarre A TBD Planning
Freret B TBD Planning
Iberville BC TBD Planning
Florida Development/Area F TBD Planning
Lake Catherine E TBD Planning
Touro B TBD Planning
West End A TBD Planning
CBD & French Quarter C TBD Planning
New Orleans Public Works Department

Jernigan clarified that the list was a starting point. Priorities for broader work will depend on myriad factors: Broken street lights in high-crime neighborhoods getting attention through Landrieu’s NOLA for Life anti-violence campaign will get top billing. So will corridors where the mayor wants to encourage economic development, property investment or use of playgrounds and community centers, he said. And also neighborhoods where other public construction projects are slated to begin now that lighting, streets, sewerage and water pipe maintenance are the bailiwick of one man: Sewerage & Water Board Director Cedric Grant.

Nevertheless, the upgrades and repairs won’t come fast enough to please everyone. The Faubourg Marigny Improvement Association has lobbied for months to no avail to have the lights fixed around Washington Square Park on Elysian Fields, association president Miles Swanson said. Tourists and locals alike often quicken their pace past the unlit park at night to reach the popular music clubs along Frenchman Street.

“It’s certainly an issue and we’ve received zero response from the city to fix the lights,” Swanson said. “They say you have to go to the capital projects budget for that, and it seems it would take an act of Congress or an act of God to get something out of that.”

Comments are closed.