Held via Zoom.
Present: Julie Jones, Anthony Eschmann, Brian Luckett, Joe Brown, Tyler Harwood
We were joined by Nakeila Polk, Director of Roadwork, and Lauren Muse, the outreach manager for the Bywater/Marigny project. We were also joined by Leslie Runnels, a resident of the 900 block of Clouet Street.
Ms. Muse told us that Homer Plessy Way is not the property of the city, but of the railroad, so Roadworks is not involved in the work going on there. The leak repairs along that road are being done by S&WB and the railroad. She then told us how their project along the 900 and 1000 blocks of Clouet St was stalled after they started to put down asphalt and numerous leaks were discovered. S&WB had to advise and eventually authorized Roadwork contractors to take over repairing them. The crews are currently repairing a leak at Japonica and Galvez and will move to Clouet St next. They expect to be finished by the end of September.
Ms. Runnels, who lives at Clouet and Rampart Streets, showed us a photo of an unfinished section of Clouet St. filled with a significant amount of water, construction remnants, and a discarded car tire. Ms. Muse said she recognized that spot as the location of one of the leaks. They are having similar issues with leaks on Japonica and Port Streets. Ms. Runnels told us how the water covers the entire West side of the block and isolates residents on that side. Delivery drivers won’t cross the water so they throw packages across. Hoppers won’t cross it to get trash cans so residents have had to roll their cans all the way to the corner or their trash is not collected. Parking has also been a problem.
An attendee asked about stalled curb repair along Pauline St. and Ms. Muse told us some neighbors are in the right-of-way so establishing the curb has been difficult. They need permission to remove landscaping or vegetation of some sort and then they will require assistance from Parks and Parkways.
Ms. Polk acknowledged that the construction has been “unnecessarily painful” for some areas. When they started the project they were required to follow State of Louisiana contractual guidelines which dictate Roadworks can’t regulate the “means and methods” of the contractors. This means Roadworks has been unable to limit the number of sites in various states of disrepair at any point. Roadworks has since been able to change how the contracts are written so new ones will not have this shortcoming. Contractors will be required to finish a percentage of work before being allowed to start in new areas. Unfortunately it seems the contract that affects Bywater was written before this change, so there is apparently no limit to the number of areas that may be adversely impacted at any point.
Joe Brown asked about construction at France and Royal Streets. Ms. Muse said that is another area they have found a leak that has stalled progress but that S&WB has given clearance to repair it. An attendee asked about the 700 block of Congress and Ms. Muse said they have two sections of road to repair there but found leaks there as well. She explained that if they pave over leaks that roads could potentially fail in as little as 30 days. The pandemic has also slowed work as crews have been split into smaller specialized units. FEMA funding “trickling in” has also caused things to move slowly.
Joe requested that the equipment lot at the corner of Royal and France be cleaned up as it has become a nuisance to near neighbors.
Brian asked about some holes in roads that do not seem to be included in the current project. Ms. Muse explained that these were S&WB repairs. They are unsure of their status and when it is time to repair the road it is not included in the current FEMA funding. They will have to apply for funding separately so it seems to be unknown when these areas will be repaired. Ms. Polk told us that residents can check on the status of a road repair by calling their hotline at 658-ROAD or emailing email@example.com. Their website is roadwork.nola.gov. Julie suggested that Bywater residents email firstname.lastname@example.org and we can start a comprehensive list to submit.
An attendee asked when the roadwork on Clouet St. began and Ms. Muse said they started with sewer repairs around mid-April, but that Entergy had done work on gas lines before that. Ms. Runnels said the street has been torn up for a year. Ms. Muse explained that Entergy and telecommunications companies are notified where Roadworks has work planned so they frequently will do work ahead of Roadworks in those areas so the street doesn’t have to be repaired twice.
A Clouet St. Resident asked about damage he witnessed crews do to a brick sidewalk in front of his home. Ms. Polk explained that the historic brick pattern could not be restored by the Roadworks contractors and the resident had kept the bricks that had been moved. If Roadworks repairs the sidewalk it seems they would have to remove the bricks or restore it in some way that may be unsatisfactory. This appears to be an unresolved issue.
Another attendee asked about how to go about getting a driveway and was advised to go to Safety and Permits to begin that process.
Our guests were thanked for their time.
Submitted by Tyler Harwood, NFB secretary