City Provides 2014 End-Of-The- Year Update On Integrated Infrastructure Improvements

NEW ORLEANS – During an end-of-year recap on integrated infrastructure improvements, Mayor Mitch Landrieu announced the City’s Department of Public Works and the Sewerage and Water Board are now fully cooperating and coordinating all capital improvement projects and repairs in New Orleans.

         “Improving New Orleans’ aging infrastructure is a major priority, and over the last year, we have taken significant steps to better position our city for the future,” Mayor Landrieu said. “For too long, the City’s Department of Public Works and the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans were not operating from the same playbook. So this year, we introduced a new Integrated Infrastructure Management System and brought in strong new leadership through a cross-section of well-qualified citizens who are serving on the new Board of Directors, and a proven leader in the appointment of a new Executive Director.”

         Cedric Grant has been named the Executive Director of the Sewerage and Water Board.

         “We have accomplished many great things in 2014,” Mayor Landrieu said, “and look forward to 2015 to be even better. Hundreds of millions of dollars in major capital infrastructure improvements are hitting our streets that will improve our water and sewer systems and our roads in neighborhoods across the city. With all of this work now fully coordinated, we are working harder than ever to build a stronger, more resilient city as we approach New Orleans’ 300th anniversary in 2018.”

         The Mayor’s Office reports the S&WB is currently implementing a $3.3 billion capital improvement program comprised of more than 600 projects that will create 25,000 construction jobs across the city. Through the rate increase approved by the New Orleans City Council in 2012, bond rating upgrades for sewer and water, and the recent bond sale, the S&WB’s capital improvement program is funded for the first time in 25 years. This work is being paired with the City’s $1 billion recovery program combining to create one of the largest infrastructure improvement efforts in the history of New Orleans.

         Executive Director of the S&WB Grant said, “We are now positioned to not only repair our aging infrastructure, but build a more resilient system that can handle the challenges of the future. The work we are doing is unprecedented in our city’s history. We have made great strides this year and look forward to getting to work in 2015.”

         In August 2014, the City and the S&WB entered into a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement to establish an Integrated Infrastructure Management System to coordinate all infrastructure projects and repairs to ensure they are performed properly and in a timely manner. Now, all capital improvement and infrastructure projects are fully coordinated as City and S&WB personnel coordinate jointly on projects including construction, acquisition, improvement, maintenance and promotion of any public improvement or project, specifically including activities related to public utilities, sewerage, flood control, drainage and streets.

         The Mayor’s Office reports the S&WB completed more than 31,000 work orders and service requests in 2014. This includes more than 1,000 emergency requests such as sewer overflows and customers without water. Other emergencies the S&WB responded to in 2014 included the Jan. 11 switch gear failure at the power plant, the Jan. 28 freeze, the Feb. 23 oil spill in the Mississippi River, the March 2 Entergy surge and the July 31 oil sheen in the Mississippi River.

         In 2014, the S&WB responded to 14,474 service requests within an average of 2 hours and 38 minutes when the call was received, completely repaired nearly 1,200 sewer mains and 1,500 water mains, more than 1,000 hydrants, and 1,100 valve and handled nearly 10,000 water service requests. The S&WB said they met or exceeded all requirements of the consent decree, including 4,800 preventive maintenance activities at 83 sewer stations, inspected and exercised all sewer valves, cleaned nearly 1.5 million feet of sewer mains, inspected 750,000 feet of sewer mains and inspected more than 8,000 sewer manholes.

         In September 2014, the S&WB hosted the Water Environment Federation’s Annual Technical Exhibition and Conference (WEFTEC), the world’s largest annual water quality conference and exhibition attended by more than 23,000 water professionals. There, it was announced the S&WB’s $3.3 billion capital improvement program will have a $7.7 billion economic impact over the next decade on the New Orleans region supporting 51,000 jobs.

         As part of the new Integrated Infrastructure Management System, the S&WB is implementing opportunities to facilitate, link and leverage with City assets. The S&WB has leased the former Historic District Landmark Commission Building at 830 Julia St. as an Information Technology project implementation site. The S&WB is also collaborating with the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority on green infrastructure pilot projects like rain gardens in neighborhoods across the city.

         The S&WB’s customer service initiatives have resulted in marked improvements in telephone call center performance with reduced wait times and fewer dropped calls. More low-income elderly and handicapped customers are receiving assistance in paying their bills through the S&WB’s Water Help Program and many of those same customers are receiving assistance on repairing leaking service lines through the Plumber Help Program.

         In 2015, the S&WB is scheduled to begin construction on more than $347.5 million in capital improvements, including a number of important water, sewer and drainage projects. Highlights include the water hammer mitigation project, major improvements to the S&WB’s power generation system, water and sewer system line replacements, water point repairs, a wetlands assimilation projects, sludge dryer project, drainage canal improvements and drainage pumping projects.

         In early 2015, Delgado Community College will begin training the next generation of certified water infrastructure personnel to work at the S&WB with the assistance of a $1.5 million grant announced by the GE Foundation to fund the program. This work aligns with Mayor Landrieu’s Economic Opportunity Strategy focusing on job training based on employer needs and creating pathways to prosperity for all New Orleans residents.

         In 2015, the S&WB will open new customer service centers in Algiers and New Orleans East.

         In 2014, the Department of Public Works completed a total of 60 roadway projects, with a total funding investment of more than $47 million. This is double the number of projects completed in 2013. Included in these projects were 16 Paths to Progress projects, 31 other roadway projects, 9 streetscape projects, 2 bikeway projects and 2 FEMA-funded Recovery Roads projects. Highlights included the Harrison Avenue Streetscape, Freret Street Streetscape, Gentilly Streetscape, Alcee Fortier Streetscape, Congress Street (Hayne – Chef Menteur), Banks Street (Carrollton – St. Patrick), Newton Street (Whitney – Teche), Hendee Street (Mardi Gras Boulevard – Opelousas), General De Gaulle Drive (Woodland – Holiday), and Lower Ninth Ward Recovery Roads (Deslonde and Flood). This work resulted in more than 24 miles of newly paved streets and an additional 14 miles of bike lanes.

         In 2014, DPW also completed filling in more than 25,000 potholes, cleaning more than 3,000 drainage catch basins and more than 90 miles of drain lines, installing more than 3,700 new permanent street signs, repairing more than 3,000 streetlight outages (more than 95% of the City’s streetlights are operational representing the lowest number of outages since Hurricane Katrina) and installing more than 23,000 LED streetlights (more than 38,000 of the City’s streetlights are now LEDs representing 70% of the City’s streetlight system).

         In 2015, the City is scheduled to begin construction on more than 60 roadway projects, with a total funding investment of more than $200 million. Included in these projects are 22 Recovery Roads projects, 2 Paths to Progress projects, 31 other roadway projects, and 5 streetscape projects. Highlights include Recovery Roads projects in the following neighborhoods: Holy Cross, Lakeview, the Lower Ninth Ward, St. Claude, Gentilly Terrace, Desire, Lake Vista, Mid City, Lakeshore, Milan, St Anthony, Algiers, St. Bernard and the West End.

         Before Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans had fewer than 5 miles of designated bikeways. The City now has more than 95 miles of bikeways and is on track, with the additional work planned, to have more than 100 miles of bikeways by early next year. The quality, convenience, and choices in bike facilities in New Orleans continue to improve.

         Highlights of bikeway projects completed in 2014 include the bikeways on Esplanade Avenue, Robert E. Lee Boulevard, South Peters Street and Bienville Street. The City was recognized by the League of American Bicyclists in 2014 as a Silver Bicycle Friendly Community and continues to work with a broad coalition of partners including the Regional Planning Commission, Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development, Bike Easy and Entergy to make New Orleans more bicycle friendly.

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