NEW ORLEANS — The City of New Orleans takes an average of nearly seven months to resolve pothole complaints according to a newly-released report about the Department of Public Works. Residents are desperate to patch that hole in city services.
It's a bumpy ride down one stretch of Robert Street in Broadmoor.
"In this one stretch of Robert you're talking about 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, major potholes," said Pepe Martin as he counted the potholes.
"You cannot really drive. You can take your foot off the accelerator and glide over each and every bump for the two and a half block drive," said resident Jeanea Bandi.
Neighbors added start and finish flags hoping to bring attention and add humor to the mess.
"It realistically is like being in an off-road Baja," Martin said. "If you don't go extremely slow, the vehicle will bump up and down, all over the place and you better make sure you have two seatbelts on. It's a mess."
Neighbors said crews began work on the street before Hurricane Ida, but haven't been back since.
"It's just gotten worse and worse and worse and worse," Martin said.
According to an inspection into the Public Works Department, it takes the City of New Orleans on average 204 days to fix a pothole reported to 311. The New Orleans Inspector General, Edward Michel inspected service requests from January 2019 through May 2021. Some requests were left unaddressed for up to nearly two and a half years. The report said: “The city’s response to these requests was significantly slower than that of other metropolitan areas around the country.”
"Anywhere else it would not be allowed. You couldn’t go a month or three months at most," Martin said.
In an effort to speed up pothole fixes, the Office of Inspector General is now recommending the Public Works adopt a formal policy with goals and performance measures.
Residents on Robert St. have called 311.
"All of our neighbors, we’ve called on a weekly basis," Bandi said.
They are hoping to bring an end to what's been dubbed the 'Baja-moor race course.'
"Please come smooth the street out, I beg you," Bandi said.
"Fix my streets," Martin said.
In response to the Inspector General's report, Josh Hartley, Acting Director of the Department of Public Works released the following statement:
"The Department of Public Works (DPW) inspects the majority of its assigned 311 cases within two weeks of the initial reporting. Approximately one-third of all pothole cases are referred to other agencies following the initial inspection. Once it is referred, it becomes the responsibility of other to agency to complete the repair. DPW is working with 311 to resolve an issue with duplicate cases, where multiple complaints are received for the same location. Once this is resolved, the system should be able to link duplicate cases immediately and prevent redundant inspections. Additionally, DPW is in the process of improving its asphalt operations and has purchased new asphalt equipment. This new equipment will be able to fully restore asphalt roadway sections which includes utility service cuts. We are developing new operating procedures to align with the change in operations once the equipment arrives."