City urges speed as Uptown construction stalls

Caroline Latta, Staff Reporter

Road cuts across Uptown and much of the city have prompted concerns and complaints to local politicians over timeframe and quality.

Uptown road construction sign
Across Uptown, signs like these cover streets and sidewalks. (Gabe Darley)

Since Nov. 13, the office of Joseph Giarusso, New Orleans city council member for District A, has received 1,080 emails or calls related to roadwork. Roadwork is a general “neighborhood concern” in the Uptown area.

The majority of those calls were related to the Sewerage and Water Board. 

The New Orleans Department of Public Works gave contractors up to 400 days to work on some of the main Uptown projects, like the 2800 block of Palmer Avenue, 6000 block of Freret Street, 1600 block of Calhoun Street, 700 block of Lowerline Street and 900 block of Pine Street. 

According to Giarrusso, contractors are allowed to open the street to do work, then take a break and come back later.

If they complete the work within 400 days, Giarrusso said, they are not in violation of their contract. 

“There’s too many errors like that,” Giarrusso said. 

One of Giarrusso’s goals is to keep contractors on task.

“We’re trying to really keep people on task, and get more deadlines…so people know when things will be done,” said Giarrusso. “Uptown and Carrollton in particular have the most engagements of complaints and the goal is that people know what the level of engagement is, and then the projects are being pushed as reasonably fast as possible.”

New Orleans has $2.4 billion remaining from Hurricane Katrina recovery funding, which can now be used towards road construction, Giarrusso said.

The money from Hurricane Katrina, he said, “has a clock attached to it, so it’s important to make sure the work is done well and on time.” 

Martha Sanchez contributed to the reporting of this article.