Apparent fixes to Uptown roads cause confusion, delays

Andrew Spencer, Contributing Reporter

Road closed signs occupy many Uptown streets. (Maggie Pasterz)

The city of New Orleans is undertaking a comprehensive $2.3 billion dollar program to restore and improve local infrastructure — namely, New Orleans’ worn and pitted streets. The Mayor’s office called it “the most comprehensive that our region has seen in a generation.” 

But long delays and confusion about the status of many of the program’s infrastructure projects has left many residents frustrated with city government. 

Joe Giarrusso, New Orleans city council member for District A, represents the neighborhoods where many of the projects are concentrated. He is no stranger to his constituents’ frustration.

“I can’t tell you the amount of times I hear, ‘I didn’t know what route I was supposed to take,’ or ‘I turned here and that wasn’t right,’ or ‘I didn’t expect the street to be closed,’” Giarrusso said.

The causes can be traced to myriad sources, though Giarusso said improving accountability should be at the center of efforts to shorten the lengthy road construction projects.

“Contractors have to do their work, but the city also has to manage their work,” Giarrusso said.

Recently, city infrastructure officials laid out new efforts to reduce the number of half-finished projects around the city and crack down on contractors who do not stick to their project timelines.

City officials are decreasing the amount of time contractors have to complete projects from 120 to 70 days. They will also require contractors to completely finish each of their projects before beginning the next, NOLA.com first reported.

Giarrusso said he is “guardedly optimistic” about the outcomes of these new efforts. Restricting the time windows directly addresses issues regarding the infrastructure projects, he said, but contractors have expressed doubt about how well they can work under the new policies.