Bill Capo / Action Report
NEW ORLEANS -- Since Katrina, the lakefront streetlights haven't worked, and the bathrooms and concession stands have been locked up, with no power or water.
But once bids are opened in two to four months, work is expected to begin to bring the utilities back to the lakefront.
'Talk about picnics, and doing some fishing off the piers and stuff man,' said New Orleans resident Marty Quezergue. 'As a small boy my dad used to take us out there.'
'Lakeshore Drive has been dark at night since Katrina. The lights will be back on at night,' said Louis Capo of the Orleans Levee District. 'The lakefront will be usable at night. The shelter houses will be usable.'
Capo is not related to me, but has spearheaded a lengthy process to get utilities back to the lakefront after the Army Corps of Engineers demanded that pipes supplying water and power now cross the top of the levees.
But even last October, they didn't want to pay for the work to be done.
'The estimates are between $1.5 and $2 million,' Capo said then. 'We do not have funding for that.'
I asked the corps to find the funding to turn the electricity back on and reconnect the plumbing along the lakefront back in October.
The corps did take another look at this situation, and decided to reimburse the Orleans Levee District for the cost of the repairs. That made this project possible.
'The initial levee lights were put there before we did any new work on the levees, and so with the new criteria in place, and this being the first time that they've been relocated the corps is able to fund this,' said Captain Brock Schmidt of the Army Corps Of Engineers. 'And that's important for the city of New Orleans, to bring people back to the lakefront.'
Reconnecting 420 streetlights and four shelters will require time to lay pipes encased in concrete across the levees in 14 locations.
'The electrical system is encased in a concrete sleeve, which is up to eight and half feet wide, one foot thick,' said Wesley Mills of Design Engineering.
It includes the Mardi Gras Fountain, which is being repaired by FEMA. They expect all the work to be done by the start of next summer.