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New Orleans won't meet deadline to spend $2B in Katrina roadwork funds

Since Katrina, the City has been working to try and fix roads and pipes thanks to $2 billion in funding from FEMA. Only about half of that money has been used.

NEW ORLEANS — There's road work going on all over New Orleans to try and fix crumbling roads. The City has been using funding from the Federal Government to make repairs, but now the deadline to use that money is soon coming.

From Uptown to downtown, roads in New Orleans are in bad shape.

"Definitely problematic, it's been messing up my car and stuff," Vanessa McCormick said.

"I think everyone has the same complaints," Sydney Beard said.

Near Prytania and St. Andrew Street, a sinkhole which Brian McCarthy says began about three weeks ago.

"And it really developed into a bad situation just recently," he said. "My concern was someone driving into it on Prytania Street and the danger that poses."

Since Katrina, the City has been working to try and fix roads and pipes thanks to $2 billion in funding from FEMA. Only about half of the money has so far been used, with the rest set to expire next year.

"In short, our first priority is to close the work we have out there right now," said Deputy Chief Administrative Officer of Infrastructure, Joe Threat.

Threat told Council members Thursday, they've faced problems with inflation, contractors and that the Landrieu administration was slow moving on projects before Cantrell's office took over. It's why he plans to file an extension, with the hopes they'll get more time.

"I think we'll have enough with our pandemic, everything we've been through with the city," he said. "Hurricane Ida, Zeta, Barry, Laura, you name it, I think we have a good case to get an extension."

Despite optimism within the city, frustrations among residents remain.

"I think for me and everybody else in this city it's extremely frustrating to hear," Beard said.

"Lets get that going because if there's money there, they need to start doing something about it," McCormick said.

And residents just hope work will start picking up so New Orleans' streets, can be streets again.

Threat told the city he understands peoples' frustrations over roadwork, but that he hopes to have all the money used and projects finished in about four years.

We reached out to the city who addressed more about Threat's plans to file an extension:

"The city meets with FEMA and GOHSEP leadership quarterly to review programmatic schedules, challenges, etc. for our FEMA-funded projects and how our infrastructure team is working to issue Notice to Proceeds for construction within the various Periods of Performance (POP). Given some of the challenges with moving projects into construction, local contractor capacity and fluctuations in materials costs, etc., the City routinely discusses the possibility of extensions openly with FEMA and GOHSEP. An extension for the combined Department of Public Works and Sewerage and Water Board Joint Infrastructure Program (JIRR) has been under consideration for more than a year. It is under the FEMA Region 6 Administrator’s authority to determine the appropriate timing to approach FEMA Headquarters concerning POP extension requests for Katrina-related damages (if warranted/required). Other than this one clarification, we have no further comment to offer at this time beyond what was stated during the City Council meeting yesterday."

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