NEW ORLEANS — Lights are out along two major overpasses in the Upper Ninth Ward. Community activists are concerned about public safety, saying they’ve reached out to the city in the last year and nothing has been done.
The city of New Orleans is once again blaming copper thieves for the blackout.
“That bridge makes a curve. If you’re not familiar with it, you could just as well go off the bridge. So all of this is a concern for me,” said Debra Campbell, chairperson for A Community Voice in the Upper Ninth Ward.
Broken streetlights and missing guardrails dot the France Street overpass in the Upper Ninth Ward along the Industrial Canal. Those safety concerns are weighing on the mind of Campbell and her neighbors.
Our camera captured blacked-out lights at sunset along a nearly two-mile stretch from North Dorgenois Street at France Street all the way to the Alvar Street overpass near 1-10.
Campbell is chairperson of the Upper Ninth Ward chapter of A Community Voice. She said residents’ complaints to the city continue to go mostly unanswered.
“I’m just concerned for their safety. I think something needs to be done. I’m not opposed to the areas we’ve given to the bicyclists, but we have to protect them,” said Campbell.
The New Orleans Department of Public Works confirms thieves stole the copper wiring inside some of the streetlight poles, damaging a feed point at the France Street overpass.
“It’s a big hazard. It’s an overpass where people could get hit. A bicyclist, a vehicle could go off road. The lighting needs to be addressed at this overpass,” said Councilman Jared Brossett, who said his office is aware of the problem.
Brossett said the Department of Public Works informed his office that major repairs are needed and an estimate is being drawn up to figure out a price tag.
“I’m hoping the Department of Public Works can act swiftly on this, as it is a hazard. I’m working with the community to address their concerns,” Brossett said.
For those who regularly drive, cycle or walk along these Upper Ninth Ward overpasses and streets, the unlit stretch is seen as a ticking time bomb.
“We have bikers that go over after dark. We’re asking the city to please give us some lights back here,” Campbell said.
In a written statement, the Landrieu administration said “97 percent of the city’s streetlights are now working more than before Hurricane Katrina.”
In this case, the city confirms it is taking measures to restore some streetlights until permanent repairs can be done. City officials urge citizens to call 911 if they spot anyone attempting to vandalize city streetlights or any public property.