Monday, July 10, 2006

The Whole Is Less Than The Sum Of It's Parts

Seymour D. Fair at The Third Battle of New Orleans has a post about past urban renewal projects in St. Lewis an the potential impact if similar revitalization is attempted in New Orleans.

New Orleans, for the part, avoided most of the federally-funded urban renewal programs and this decision left New Orleans with most of it's historic neighborhoods and structures intact. It is possible and unfortunate however, that a similar "checkboard" pattern of development (mostly vacant lots populated with sporadic structures here and there) could be the post-KTMB outcome in the heavily flood-impacted areas of New Orleans such as Lakeview, Gentilly, and New Orleans East. Hopefully, this will be minimalized long term.
I agree.

The main difference between the urban renewal projects paid for by the federal government and the cookie-cutter McMansions so prevelant in places like Dallas and Atlanta is that the developers of McMansions know what they're doing. That is the advantage of the CDBG monies being given to the state instead of a federal government run revitalization program.

The two things I fear are;
  1. The state legislature and the Governor's LRA will use the grant money to pay-off politica allies (as safe bet to be sure).
  2. The rebuilding process, though locall driven, will become centralized and thus result in efficent yet unwanted neighborhoods.
Mayor Ray Nagin's proposal that the overall rebuilding plan be composed of a compilation of the various neighborhoods plans. Although he has hinted that some overall planning may take place. I hope what he means by that is that some modifications may take place to make the disparate plans mesh in a more satisfactory manner as opposed to the neighborhood plans being over-ridden by some anonymous planner in City Hall.

Monday, July 03, 2006

Potholes And Pans

The transportation infrastructure of New Orleans took a beating from Hurricane Katrina but the city is not yet down for the count. According to New Orleans CityBusiness, progress is being made.

Pothole proliferation is just one hallmark of Katrina’s destructive blow to New Orleans’ infrastructure.

Ten months after the storm, about 15 percent of the city’s traffic signals are dead or blink chaotically, making intersections dangerous.

Nine thousand missing or damaged traffic signs have drivers wondering whether to stop, yield or go.

At night, streetlights are still out in hard-hit areas such as the Lower Ninth Ward and other spots.

Traffic backs up on the Interstate 10 Twin Span whenever workers perform emergency maintenance on temporary repairs made after Katrina.

But officials say progress is being made in repairing Orleans Parish infrastructure.

Robert Mendoza, city Public Works director since mid-April, said 388 of 458 traffic signals, or just below 85 percent, are functioning, with the rest expected to be working by August.

In some cases, traffic signals are repaired but remain dark because Entergy has yet to supply electricity. Also, traffic signals pieced together with temporary repairs sometimes break when it rains, he said.

Mendoza said Entergy estimates 90 percent of repaired streetlights are functioning. As of April, 42 percent of 4,327 damaged lights had been repaired at a cost of $494,733, he said. The $2 million in streetlight repairs should be complete in December, he said.
But this is not just a repair effort:
The need to bring older intersections up to current codes complicates the rebuilding by forcing the redesign of entire intersections, he said.
New Orleans has its fair share of bad intersections. Hopefully this will bring the streets into the 20th Century.