Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News
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NEW ORLEANS - A year ago this weekend, a 40-car pileup in New Orleans East killed two people, injured 22 others, and shut down Interstate 10 for hours.
The crash on was blamed on a combination of fog, smoke from a nearby marsh fire, and broken street lights.
A year later, the lights are back on along the stretch of I-10 near the Michoud Boulevard exit, the scene of the crash. But nearby, large spans of the interstate are in the dark.
'Personally I try to stay off of it at night because a large section of it is in darkness. You can't see. Many cars have had accidents, people have gotten killed,' said Dawn Hebert, community activist and member of the Lake Willow Homeowners Association.
Every light is out on I-10 between Read and Crowder Boulevard. And lights are sporadic for miles, until you reach the high rise, which is partially out too.
'Its a quality of life issue for us that are driving along it. It's not helping with the perception of New Orleans East, which we are trying so very hard to improve,' said Hebert.
Outages in the area are the result of damaged infrastructure, outdated wiring, and disruptions from repair work on a nearby transformer, said city spokesman C. Hayne Rainey.
'We say that the time has passed for those excuses, which are what they are, that we need action immediately,' said Hebert.
'The City of New Orleans has fixed these lights three times in the last year and they remain a challenge. The Department of Public Works is committed to correcting the issue to ensure that motorists can travel as safely as possible along I-10,' said Rainey.
But neighbors like Hebert don't believe the city is doing enough.
'The city is aware of this. The Superbowl is coming, this should be an issue for visitors coming to the city, to see all of this darkness as they enter the city of New Orleans,' said Hebert.
In May, Mayor Mitch Landrieu promised to repair every streetlight in the city by the year's end.
Hurricane Isaac set back those efforts, according to a city spokesman.
As of December 28th, officials reported over 8,600 outages city-wide. Less than a quarter of those were Isaac-related.
The city has repaired over 11,600 so far this year. Nearly 2,600 streetlights are being worked on right now.
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