City Provides 2015 End Of The Year Update On Integrated Infrastructure Improvements

NEW ORLEANS – Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu provided an end of the year recap on integrated infrastructure improvements across New Orleans completed by City’s Department of Public Works (DPW) and the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (S&WB).

         “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 Mitch Landrieu said. “With our announcement of a $2 billion final settlement with FEMA to repair Hurricane Katrina-related damage to New Orleans’ roads and subsurface infrastructure, we have successfully secured a major down payment to repair our city’s aging infrastructure. We have accomplished many great things in 2015 and look forward to 2016 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.”

         Cedric Grant, Executive Director of S&WB, 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 accomplishing even more in 2016 and years to come.”

 

HISTORIC INFRASTRUCTURE IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM UNDERWAY

 

         At this time, a historic infrastructure improvement program is currently underway in New Orleans. Prior to Hurricane Katrina, the City completed $16 million in roadway capital improvements and $2-3 million in roadway maintenance in a typical year. Today, there is more roadwork now any time in recent history. Following Hurricane Katrina, the City has completed on average $34 million in roadway capital improvements and $1-2.5 million in roadway repairs.

         After taking office in May 2010, Mayor Landrieu said he hit the reset button on the City’s negotiations with the federal government on Hurricane Katrina-related damage. Since then, the City has met with FEMA over 825 times producing $946.7 million more in new funding to rebuild and repair public facilities and streets. So far, the City, in full coordination with S&WB, has completed 247 road projects totaling $342 million and resulting in 111 miles of new roads. Right now, there is over $150 million of road construction either in design or under construction across New Orleans. This infrastructure work includes FEMA-funded Recovery Roads, Community Development Block Grant funding and City bond funded projects. In 2015, the City is on track to complete over 40 road projects valued at $80 million, representing over four-times the amount of infrastructure work performed by the City annually, on average, prior to Hurricane Katrina.

         S&WB is currently implementing a $3.3 billion capital improvement program comprised of over 600 projects that will create 25,000 construction jobs across the city. Through the rate increase approved by New Orleans City Council in 2012, bond rating upgrades for sewer and water, and the recent bond sale, S&WB’s capital improvement program is funded for the first time in 25 years. This work is being paired with the City’s multi-billion recovery program combining to create one of the largest infrastructure improvement efforts in the history of New Orleans. S&WB’s capital improvement program will have a $7.7 billion economic impact over the next decade on the New Orleans region supporting 51,000 jobs.

 

$2 BILLION SETTLEMENT WITH FEMA

 

         In December 2015, after five years of negotiations, the City and S&WB announced a final settlement with FEMA of $2 billion for Hurricane Katrina-related damage to New Orleans’ roadways and subsurface infrastructure, including water, sewer and drainage pipes. This settlement of $1.2 billion in previously unobligated recovery funds brings the total to over $2 billion secured under the Landrieu Administration for roads and subsurface infrastructure.

         Under this agreement, FEMA has approved a $1,287,364,867 lump sum settlement and agreed to the amounts detailed below as capped grants.

 

City of New Orleans

         To date, FEMA has approved $409,237,093 in public assistance funds to the City of New Orleans for disaster-eligible road and drainage repairs. FEMA has determined that an additional $1,120,882,769 is eligible and will be provided as a capped sub-grant. Funding from the $409,237,093 may be included in the capped sub-grant for any projects where construction has not yet begun.

 

Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans

         To date, FEMA has approved $375,660,835 in public assistance funds to S&WB for water, sewer and drainage repairs. FEMA has determined that an additional $128,986,034 is eligible and will be provided as a capped sub-grant. Funding from the $375,660,835 may be included for any projects where construction has not yet begun.

         As part of this settlement agreement FEMA has also agreed to allow the State to submit a final request for an updated Hazard Mitigation Grant Program (HMGP) lock-in ceiling amount. The last announcement of the recalculation of HMGP funds for Hurricane Katrina for the State of Louisiana was done in November of 2011.

 

INTEGRATED INFRASTRUCTURE MANAGEMENT

 

         In summer 2014, the City and S&WB entered into a Cooperative Endeavor Agreement to establish an Integrated Infrastructure Management System to coordinate all infrastructure projects and repairs to ensure that 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.

         In spring 2015, the City launched a new online tool to track the progress of roadwork projects and infrastructure improvements across the city. The roadwork.nola.gov website shows ongoing coordination on road construction by the City’s Department of Public Work (DPW), Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (S&WB), U.S. Army Corps of Engineers’ Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Damage Reduction Project (SELA), and Regional Transit Authority (RTA). The City updates projects monthly, providing residents with the most accurate view of infrastructure improvements occurring across New Orleans. The project is a collaboration between DPW and S&WB under the City’s Integrated Infrastructure Management System.

 

PUBLIC WORKS

 

Successes Achieved in 2015

         DPW completed a total of 55 roadway projects in 2015, with a total funding investment of over $81 million. Included in these projects were 2 Paths to Progress projects, 4 other roadway projects, 3 streetscape projects, 6 bikeway projects, and 5 FEMA-funded Recovery Roads projects. Highlights included: Venetian Isles, Holy Cross Part 1, Holy Cross Part 2, Touro, St. Claude Phase II Group 1. This work resulted in over 13 miles of newly paved streets and an additional 5.65 miles of bikeways.

         DPW also completed the following work in 2015:

 

• Filled over 77,000 potholes;

• Cleaned over 5,800 drainage catch basins and over 73 miles of drain lines;

• Inspected and assessed the condition of over 120 miles of drain lines;

Installed over 5,400 new permanent traffic signs and over 2,200 new permanent street name signs;

• Repaired over 9,000 streetlight outages (over 95% of the City’s streetlights are operational; and

• Installed over 3,900 LED streetlights (over 40,000 of the City’s streetlights are now LEDs representing 75% of the City’s streetlight system).

 

Looking Forward to 2016

         In 2016, the City is scheduled to begin construction on over 40 roadway projects, with a total funding investment of over $200 million. Included in these projects are 12 Recovery Roads projects, 3 Paths to Progress projects, 6 other roadway projects, and 2 streetscape projects. Highlights include Recovery Roads projects in the following neighborhoods: Lakeview, Fillmore, Mid City, St. Bernard, Lower Ninth Ward, and West End.

 

Expanding Bikeways

         Before Hurricane Katrina, New Orleans had fewer than 5 miles of designated bikeways. With the completion of the Lafitte Greenway Bicycle and Pedestrian Path this year, New Orleans now has over 100 miles of bikeways. The quality, convenience, and choices in bike facilities in New Orleans continue to improve, City officials said. Other bikeway projects completed in 2015 include the bikeways on Sullen Place, S. Galvez, S. Broad, O’Keefe, N. Broad, and Camp St. The City is continuing 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.

 

SEWERAGE AND WATER BOARD

 

Successes Achieved in 2015

         S&WB completed over 34,500 work orders and 17,000 service requests in 2015. This includes over 8,500 emergency requests such as sewer overflows and customers without water.

         S&WB completed the following work in 2015:

 

• Responded to 17,000 service requests in 2015 within an average of 1 hour and 10 minutes when the call was received;

• Completed repaired nearly 1,100 sewer mains, 1,500 water mains, 11,000 water service requests, 1,100 hydrants and 1,300 valves;

• Met or exceeded all requirements of the consent decree, including inspecting over 8,300 sewer mains, cleaned nearly 750,000 feet of sewer main and inspected over a million feet of sewer main; and

• S&WB staff performed preventive maintenance on over 2,000 water main valves and nearly 5,000 water hydrants.

 

         As part of the City’s Integrated Infrastructure Management System, S&WB is implementing opportunities to facilitate, link and leverage with City assets. S&WB is also collaborating with the New Orleans Redevelopment Authority on green infrastructure pilot projects like rain gardens in neighborhoods across the city.

         S&WB’s customer service initiatives have resulted in marked improvements in telephone call center performance with reduced wait times and fewer dropped calls, City officials said. More low-income elderly and handicapped customers are receiving assistance in paying their bills through 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.

 

Looking Forward to 2016

         In 2016, S&WB is scheduled to begin construction on over $379 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 2016, Delgado Community College will begin training the next generation of certified water infrastructure personnel to work at 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 focused on job training based on employer needs and creating pathways to prosperity for all New Orleans residents.

 

FIX MY STREETS FINANCING WORKING GROUP

 

         To help find solutions to the City of New Orleans’ long-term infrastructure needs, Mayor Landrieu has established a working group comprised of City leaders, residents and subject matter experts charged with developing recommendations about how the City can pay for interior street repairs. The Fix My Streets Financing Working Group to come up with recommendations on how we can pay for interior street repairs moving forward. This group of subject matter experts have expertise in civil engineering, business, construction, finance, banking, transportation and community engagement.

         Mayor Landrieu’s Executive Order charges the Fix My Street Financing Working Group with the following:

 

• To review all estimates for replacements and repair of all streets and subsurface utilities in New Orleans;

• To review all current funding sources for street and subsurface utility repairs in New Orleans;

• To review the pavement condition survey completed by the City of New Orleans that will be used for street prioritization;

• To review strategies that parties are currently using to inform the public about construction progress and timelines, as well as future construction;

• To review information about national best practices for financing infrastructure repair and recommendations that other organizations may submit to the Working Group;

• To review the planning processes, policies and implementation strategies undertaken by the various agencies fixing streets and subsurface utilities;

• To assess the affordability of the various options for financing infrastructure repairs; and

• To make final recommendations to the Mayor and the City Council regarding a long-term strategic financing plan for infrastructure repairs—particularly streets and subsurface utilities- in Orleans Parish.

 

         The Fix My Streets Financing Working Group is comprised of members with expertise in finance, business, construction, engineering, transportation and civic engagement. Appointments to the working group include:

 

• Chair, Dr. Norma Jean Mattei, President-elect, American Society of Civil Engineers, former Chair, Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, University of New Orleans

 • Hon. Nadine Ramsey, Councilmember District C, Chair of New Orleans City Council Public Works, Sanitation & Environment Committee

• Hon. Jason R. Williams, Councilmember-At-Large, City of New Orleans

• Walter Brooks, Executive Director, New Orleans Regional Planning Commission

• Shawn Wilson, Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development

• Robert Lupo, CEO, Lupo Enterprises, real estate developer, founder of Fix My Streets campaign

• Todd James, Principal, Mathes Brierre Architects, board member, Young Leadership Council

• Henry F. “Freddy” Yoder, Jr., retired President & Chief Operating Officer, Durr Heavy Construction, Fix My Streets campaign

• Eric Songy, President, Bocage Neighborhood Association, Fix My Streets campaign

• Barbara Woolfolk, Past President, Villa Sites Neighborhood Association

• James R. Amdal, Director, UNO Transportation Institute

• Wayne Neveu, Special Counsel, Foley Judell, National Association of Bond Lawyers

• Damon Burns, CEO, Munivestor

 

         This working group began meeting this month. Preliminary recommendations will be made in time for the State’s regular 2016 legislative session local bill filing deadlines should any legislation be needed. Additional meetings may be required throughout the year.

 

 

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