Aug. 30: New Orleans streets – $5 billion to fix

Aug. 30: New Orleans streets – $5 billion to fix

A study of New Orleans roadways estimates it will take at least $5 billion to improve all the city’s streets enough to be rated in “fair” condition.

New Orleans streets – $5 billion to fix

A study of New Orleans roadways estimates it will take at least $5 billion to improve all the city’s streets enough to be rated in “fair” condition. That includes $200- $350 million of reconstruction investment over the next 20 to 30 years, plus $30 million to $35 million more to maintain the streets. New Orleans is slated to receive $2 billion from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, but additional money will be needed. Kevin Litten, reporting for Times-Picayune, has more on the challenges the city faces in improving infrastructure:

“It’s really hard to find $30 million in the operations budget,” said Ryan Berni, deputy mayor for external affairs. “We’re in a place where, yes, there’s going to be new revenue needed and we’re hoping to draw the framework of options.” Berni said New Orleans is in a position where it’s “paying for the cost of decisions made yesterday because of deferred maintenance.” For example, the city invested just $16 million annually in capital improvements in the years before Hurricane Katrina; that number is now $150 million.


Black Americans left out of economic recovery

Despite 70 straight months of national job growth and recent accelerations in wage gains, fewer Americans believe the economy is doing well now than did prior to the recession. For many, growth has yet to overcome prolonged income stagnation, especially for Black American workers who experienced more pronounced wage loss than White and Latino workers from 2009 to 2014. In some locations, median wages for African-Americans declined by 20 percent or more. The Brookings Institute’s Alan Berube offers a potential explanation:

One reason for those place- and race-specific declines may be that black workers shifted from higher-paying to lower-paying occupations over the course of the recovery. In Akron, for instance, shares of blacks working in middle-paying sales and office jobs, and higher-paying management/business/financial and computer/science/engineering jobs fell, while the share working in lower-paying food service occupations rose. Indeed, many metro areas in which black wages declined saw a drop in the share of black workers employed in sales and office jobs, and a rise in those employed in food service jobs. Some of these metro areas did, however, see a rise in blacks employed in middle-paying manufacturing jobs as that industry rebounded from the depths of the recession.


Criminalizing mental illness

Police interactions with people suffering from mental illness are increasingly drawing the attention of the U.S. Justice Department. Confrontations with mentally ill people often turn violent even when no crime has been committed, the agency found. Amid efforts to improve training for police on interacting with people who are mentally ill, some from the law enforcement community express frustration that officers are being asked to fill the void left by decades of divestment in mental health infrastructure. Civil rights advocates hope the Justice Department’s new angle on the issue will accelerate progress. The Associated Press has more:

Though past federal investigations have addressed the problem, the Baltimore report went a step further: It was the first time the Justice Department has explicitly found that a police department’s policies violated the Americans with Disabilities Act. The finding is intended to chart a path to what federal officials hope will be far-reaching improvements, including better training for dispatchers and officers, diversion of more people to treatment rather than jail and stronger relationships with mental health specialists.


Disaster food stamp sign-ups

Registration for the Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program, or DSNAP, began Monday in East Baton Rouge, Acadia, Ascension, and Lafayette Parishes. Those seeking the benefit are asked to pre-register online at or by calling 1-888-524-3678. Applicants must apply at designated sites on the days specified for their last name between 8:00 a.m. and 6:00 p.m.

Monday, Aug. 29: last names beginning with letters A-D

Tuesday, Aug. 30: E-K

Wednesday, Aug. 31: L-R

Thursday, Sept. 1: S-Z

Friday, Sept. 2: A-K applicants unable to make prior scheduled day

Saturday, Sept. 3: L-Z applicants unable to make prior scheduled day

Here are the locations by parish where people can sign up for the benefits.

Acadia Parish

City of Rayne Civic Center, 300 Frog Festival Drive, Rayne

Ascension Parish

Lamar Dixon Expo Center, 9039 S. St. Landry Ave., Gonzales

East Baton Rouge Parish

Council on Aging Capital City Event Center, 6955 Florida Boulevard, Baton Rouge

G. Clark Activity Center, 798 Harding Boulevard, Baton Rouge

Gloryland Baptist Church, 6745 Greenwell Springs Road, Baton Rouge

Louisiana Leadership Institute, 5763 Hooper Road, Baton Rouge

Lafayette Parish

Blackham Coliseum, 2330 Johnston St., Lafayette

Sign up for mucking and gutting

Together Baton Rouge has created a “master” online sign-up option for flooded residents who need help cleaning out their homes across all affected areas in Louisiana. Visit to sign up. All submissions will go to Crisis Cleanup and to most of the major organizations doing house clean-up work, including Habitat for Humanity, Rebuilding Together Baton Rouge, LEAN, the Baptist Association of SELA, United Methodists, LDS groups, Samaritan’s Purse and others.


Number of the Day

$5 billion  – Investment needed to bring New Orleans’ streets up to a “fair” level of quality. (Source: Times-Picayune)