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Fixing New Orleans Streets: Is 9 Billion Bucks Really Necessary?

It’s common knowledge that our New Orleans streets are pretty much on par with streets in a lot of third world countries. Many of them are broken, uneven and full of potholes. I recently read in the paper our deputy mayor Cedric Grant claims that it would take 9 billion dollars to fix all the streets in the city.

And you can bet your boots some of that money will be wasted on government corruption, and let’s say that half of that goes into waste and incompetence because we all know that government is wasteful. Have you ever heard of ANY government program that was not?

Fixing New Orleans Streets: Is 9 Billion Bucks Really Necessary?


Denny Shaffer of WRNO inspects a tree growing out of a pothole in Pontchartrain Park.

OK, so then cutting 9 billion in half makes it come down to 4.5 billion dollars. If this were to be turned over to the private sector to get this done we could probably cut that down to maybe half that, to around 2 billion. And we all know some streets need it more than others.

Here’s an idea: How ’bout paving the streets correctly, how bout using another technology other than the one that’s been used over the years that does not work?

People want to blame it on our soil, on subsidence. OK, perhaps that has something to do with it. But why not blame it on plain incompetence and corruption?

I want you to look at this: If it is all could be blamed on subsidence then why don’t we see houses all tipping this way and that like our streets are. Our houses just sit on top of the soil. And they are pretty heavy, heavier than cars.

OK, yes, some of our homes do need to be shored up from time to time, one end sinking lower than another, but this sinkage is relatively minor. Have you ever seen a pot hole under your house? Or in your front yard?

About ten years ago they redid Burthe Street where I live. Took them a whole danged year to do it. They came in, dug up the street, put in pipes, did this and that. Then covered it over again with dirt, smoothed it out like they were going to pave it. But nope, a little later they came back and dug it up again and did something else, did this and that and then covered it over again with dirt. Then eventually they got around to paving it.

This took a year, the entire street of Burthe was unusable for an entire year. Was there a flurry of activity on the street day in and day out? No. It seemed like only a few people were working on the job at any one time. Some of these folks did a lot of standing around too.

Eventually the job was done and we had a nice clean smooth street. For a while. Now at certain places you can begin to see dips in the street that were not there a year ago. On Hampson Street two blocks over, they worked on it the same time as Burthe.

Only a short while after it was done a huge pothole formed around a manhole cover in the middle of an intersection. Just a few months ago did they finally come and fix it. This after years and years of complaining about it to the city.

The city needs to develop a new technology of fixing our streets. We can’t use the same way of paving streets that they use on soil that is firm and not alluvial. This 9 billion dollars will not permanently fix these streets. It is only a stop gap, it is a never ending problem. And granted all streets eventually need to be repaved. We just would like streets that would last at least 30 or 40 years before that happened.

When I lived in Vancouver, Washington do you know how they fixed their streets? It was a pretty simple process. They would come down the street with a huge dump truck filled with an oily gravel and uniformly layer the street with it as it slowly moved along. That’s it. As cars passed it smoothed out the street all by itself.

Yes, it was kind of messy and you did have to be careful about wiping your feet off before walking in your house. Why don’t they do that here? There is no tearing up the streets making them impassable for months at a time. This operation takes hardly any time.

Now, I understand that some streets need to be torn up to put in new piping and things like that. But not all streets do. In fact, I would bet that most streets don’t. Perhaps not all streets could be fixed like that with the oily gravel, but I would bet that a good percentage could. And how much does that cost? It would seem hardly anything in comparison to the billions of dollars that someone in the government is estimating it should.

I’m no expert but 9 billion dollars to fix our streets seems a little much. 1 billion sounds more like it. But even that sounds ridiculous. Let’s just start there and make sure we have a lot of oversight and let’s try the oily gravel idea. Why not?

Posted in New Orleans Life, New Orleans Neighborhoods, New Orleans Videos.

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