2,000+ streetlights repaired in New Orleans since August, repairs to begin next week on interstate lights
Back in October, FOX 8 reported that around 11 percent of streetlights were out citywide. That number has now dropped to around seven percent.
NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - As a contractor works to repair around 11% of streetlights that were out citywide in August, residents and employees in Downtown New Orleans and the Warehouse District said Wednesday that the atmosphere in their neighborhood has slowly been degrading between malfunctioning streetlights and downed traffic lights at intersections.
As FOX 8 reported in October, the city brought on All-Star Electric in August on a $4.3 million, one-year streetlight repair contract.
Back in October, around five to six thousand streetlights were reported as non-functioning citywide. Since then, that number has now dropped to around four thousand, or from around 11% to around 7%.
A city spokesperson said lights in high-crime areas and around schools are being prioritized, with around 370 high-priority repairs remaining.
MORE: Survey: More than 1/3 of lights in French Quarter damaged, not working
“It can be very dark, a little ominous,” said Victoria Rangel, an employee at Main Squeeze Juice Co. on Carondelet in the Warehouse District.
Rangel said, in recent months, she and other female employees have had to use the “buddy system” when getting off work late at night.
“Sometimes, we end up leaving a little closer to 9. It’s fairly dark at that time, and if the lights aren’t working, it feels very unsafe to be frank,” Rangel said. “We’ve heard about a great deal of break-ins that happened to people’s vehicles. I would hate to see anybody get hurt.”
Thankfully, the lights in the 700-800 blocks of Julia Street and 800 block of Carondelet, where Main Squeeze is located, seem to now be mostly functioning. The intersection at Carondelet and Julia, however, has been down for weeks, according to nearby residents.
“There’s just a constant barrage of obstacles that pedestrians have to face,” said Daphne Johnson, a nearby resident. “You really have to be diligent and be defensive when you’re crossing the street, when you’re looking around your surroundings.”
Johnson, a one-time New York City resident, said she does not feel comfortable walking the streets after a certain time.
“It’s generally a dangerous area to walk in, even though it’s a safe neighborhood overall,” Johnson said. “Even adding some lighting to the street in general would create a much safer environment. I feel like there’s a lot they could be doing to improve the situation.”
Additionally, the city confirmed there are approximately 520 outages on the interstate, between I-610 and the CBD. The contractor will begin blocking off up to three lanes of traffic next week, at certain times, in order to start assessing and repairing the lights.
Any remaining repairs will happen after Mardi Gras.
“All Star Electric has restored 182 outages on I-610 between Paris Ave and the [Orleans] Parish Line,” a city spokesperson continued. “On I-610 between Elysian Fields and the I-10 Interchange, [Louisiana Department of Transportation Development] will begin an LED streetlight upgrade in the next couple months.”
Councilwoman Lesli Harris said, with hundreds, if not thousands of outages reported across Council District B, she is constantly forwarding complaints of malfunctioning streetlights to the city’s Department of Public Works.
“Residents should feel safe in their own neighborhoods, which is not possible with so many streets that are currently pitch black at night. With the rising rates of car break-ins and violent crimes, it is critically important that streetlight outages are repaired in a timely manner,” Harris said in a statement. “I take these streetlight outages seriously as not just a quality of life issue but a major safety concern.”
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