NEW ORLEANS, LA—Today, Mayor Mitch Landrieu and the City Council announced a bold new strategy to repair every streetlight outage in the city by the end of 2012. The administration has identified $8 million in additional funding to pay for expensive repairs and significantly increase capacity.
“Lighting up the city is a real priority we all share, as streetlights enhance public safety and the sense of security in our neighborhoods,” said Mayor Landrieu. “We are making progress on streetlight repairs, but it’s clear that we need an infusion of one-time resources and a surge in capacity to really reduce the backlog. We are doubling down and commit to get the job done.”
The City of New Orleans owns 54,400 streetlights, including those on the Interstate highways and State roads. As the Landrieu Administration took office in May 2010, a backlog of over 16,000 streetlight outages existed representing over 29% of all streetlights within New Orleans. The Landrieu Administration has fixed over 16,000 streetlights since taking office. But because lights are continually burning out as others are repaired, a total of 10,917 outages exist as of May 2012. 4,793 of those streetlights are in need of major repairs.
Currently, 3 crews work 8 hours per day, 5 days per week. In order to fulfill the City’s goal of having every streetlight on by the end of 2012, the City’s plan to light up New Orleans will call for a total of 6 crews working 13 hours per day, 6 days per week, which will significantly increase inspections and routine repairs with the goal of working more than 200 outages per week. In addition to adding to the hours of the current contractors, the City will be putting out a bid for additional contractors to increase capacity.
To date in 2012, the City has spent a total of $491,000 of the general funds allocated for streetlight maintenance. This includes maintenance and program management costs. Approximately $1 million is remaining from the general fund budget.
To pay for this aggressive plan, the Administration has identified $8 million in one-time federal recovery funds (D-CDBG). When added to what remains in the 2012 general fund budget, the City will have over $9 million to light up New Orleans by the end of the year.
District E Councilmember Jon Johnson will author and introduce the ordinance to fund the initiative.
Councilmember Johnson said, “The residents of the City of New Orleans will be positively affected by the action being taken by the Landrieu administration and the New Orleans City Council to repair all the street lights in our city by the end of this year. Since Hurricane Katrina, we have had problems with street lights and we have heard from our constituents that the lack of proper lighting has deterred them or kept them from venturing out of their homes at night. The action being taken by the City of New Orleans is a bold step toward addressing a problem that is very important to the lives of every resident and all businesses in our neighborhoods.”
City Council President Jacquelyn Brechtel Clarkson said, “We are very grateful to finally get our streetlights turned on and so very excited that this plan encompasses the whole city.”
District A Councilmember Susan Guidry said, “I appreciate the administration's recognizing the magnitude of this serious infrastructure problem, one that is viewed as critical by residents throughout our city. We all look forward to seeing the light at the end of this tunnel.”
District C Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer said, “We all understand that by repairing streetlights, we improve the safety and quality of life of our neighborhoods. We have heard loud and clear from citizens throughout the city that this is a major concern. I applaud the Mayor for making this a top priority.”
District D Councilmember Cynthia Hedge-Morrell said, “Today, we have reached another important milestone in rebuilding the infrastructure of our city. Residents in District D have been negatively impacted by the lack of lighting. Having adequate lights in my neighborhoods to keep the residents safe has always been one of my top priorities. The quality of life in neighborhoods will now greatly improve. I understood and felt the frustration of my constituents. Today, I thank them for their perseverance.”
Outages are identified during nightly patrols by program management contractors and reports from residents to the NOLA 3-1-1 system. Per week, 120-150 work orders are performed, restoring an average of approximately 100 streetlight outages. Major maintenance repairs to restore streetlights can take several weeks and cost $2,000 to $90,000 to complete. There are 20 types of streetlight fixtures, 10 types of poles, 6 types of lamps, and 15 types of bulb wattages. Poles range in price from approximately $2,000 to $20,000 and fixtures range from $400 to $1,500.
Cedric Grant, Deputy Mayor of Facilities and Infrastructure said, “Streetlight maintenance has remained a challenge due to the age, diversity, and reliability of the City’s system. Much of the system is outdated and this system’s underground wiring was damaged by flooding associated with Hurricane Katrina, which have made many of these repairs extremely expensive. Our plan today addresses all of these challenges and will give us the Department of Public Works and our contractors the resources necessary to get the job done.”