Group works on finance plan for more than $9 billion in street repairs

Group works on finance plan for more than $9 billion in street repairs

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - You don't have to go far in New Orleans to find streets in desperate need of repair or neighbors who want them fixed.

"Our neighborhoods have been like this ever since Katrina," Gentilly resident Harry Cook said.

That's why Mayor Mitch Landrieu has asked a new group to come up with a way to pay for more than $9 billion in long-term infrastructure needs across the city. On Wednesday, the newly created Fix My Streets Financing Working Group, which is made up of experts in areas like finance, construction and engineering, held it's first public meeting.

"There's no doubt that everybody is going to feel the priorities are not right unless it's in their neighborhood," said group member Robert Lupo. "This committee is going to look at best practices and ways to finance so those questions will be the things we're handling."

Neighbors also attended the meeting. They want to make sure money is spent wisely and their communities are included in the plan.

"You got striped streets that need repairs so you're soon going to have to come back and do the repairs of that street again, so why would you put a stripe on a street that you are going to come back and do repairs on?" Cook asked.

"I'm just so happy. I hear about monies that has been allocated to our city for these repairs, so I just wanted to come and hear, and, as often as I can," neighbor Carolyn Sartin said.

The group said it plans to use a recent FEMA settlement to pay for $2 billion in street and infrastructure damage caused by Katrina. That will happen over the next six to seven years. But the group still needs to come up with a way to pay for the remaining $7 billion in repairs.

The city said the Fix My Streets Finance Working Group will meet several times from now through February. They'll come up with preliminary recommendations on how the city can pay for those billions in repairs in time for the state's legislative session.

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