NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) — A deep, cavernous hole has formed at the corner of Lowerline and Hurst streets, swallowing orange barriers and traffic control devices, with large two-by-fours protruding from the depths.
You don’t have to look far to find scenes like this in Uptown’s Black Pearl neighborhood and all of New Orleans.
“It’s just plain blatant,” said Michelle Longino, who lives a block away. “I mean yeah it’s a horror, there’s a lot of horror here in New Orleans. But it’s a major safety hazard at this point.
Longino said the crater has grown steadily since crews dug it out in December following complaints from residents about a sewage leak, with the cracked pavement around it slowly collapsing towards the inside.
Nearby residents called 311 repeatedly for weeks.
“I’m just running,” said Longino, who joined a group of frustrated neighbors to sign a letter addressed to Mayor LaToya Cantrell and Sewer and Water Board Director Ghassan Korban.
Longino said she and her neighbors were at their wit’s end.
“Aggravating. Frustrating. Disappointing,” she said. “Infuriating at this point.”
Black Pearl is slated for at least $17 million in road construction, with a tentative completion date of spring 2022.
The construction site seems far from over.
“I know this is a project that’s supposed to beautify our streets and neighborhoods, but I can’t believe how long it’s taking,” Longino said.
Earlier this month, the New Orleans City Council passed a resolution freezing the hiring budgets of the Department of Public Works (DPW) and the city’s Office of Safety and Permits, and freezing the budgets operating from June.
The purpose of the legislation, sponsored by Councilman Joe Giarrusso, was to force departments to improve communication with residents.
“We don’t expect perfection, we just expect better results,” said Councilman Joe Giarrusso, who sponsored the legislation. “A lot of things that we pointed out today are from 2018, and we understand that this mayor certainly inherited an infrastructure [problem] and other systems. It’s tough, but at the same time, we just want to show the audience how things are going.
So far, it’s unclear whether departments have come forward with plans to address residents’ concerns about continued delays in street repairs and roadwork.
FOX 8 contacted the mayor’s office and received the following response:
“The Department of Public Works is aware of the problem at Lowerline and Hurst. During construction of the Black Pearl Group A project, the contractor identified a drain line that required spot repair. The contractor will visit the area today to ensure it is secured with suitable barricades and the repair should be completed within the next 30 days.
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