New Orleans working to get interstate lit, repair some 4,000 streetlights across city

Published: Jan. 25, 2023 at 10:58 PM CST
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NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - New Orleans officials say they plan to have most interstate lights operational in the weeks following Mardi Gras, with a contractor already beginning repairs on some major stretches of I-10 and I-610.

City residents and visitors have become accustomed to poor or inoperative lighting on the interstates and highways throughout the city. Commuting through darkened portions of Mid-City, Gentilly, Central City or New Orleans East can feel dangerous, and interstate shootings have become increasingly concerning over the past 18 months.

“Once you get on the High Rise, it’s like, ‘Wow,’” said City Councilman Oliver Thomas. “It’s the darkness of sky. We’ve been dark city for a long time.”

Thomas has supported several initiatives aimed at repairing broken streetlights, both on the interstates and in neighborhoods. One project by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (DOTD) to repair interstate lights in New Orleans East is nearing completion.

Thomas said darkness attracts crime, and lighting up the city is one of the first steps that should be taken to combat criminals.

“One of the things I just couldn’t understand is why we were giving so much cover? It’s like the cover of darkness,” Thomas said. “It was almost like we were saying, ‘We’re going to darken up the city, so y’all can do y’all thing.’”

A city spokesperson confirmed work has begun on the interstates, with lanes periodically being closed off during the day to allow crews space to make repairs.

Around 4,000 of the 54,000 lights under the city’s control remain in disrepair. But, according to the spokesperson, work is being done to address them.

“The Department of Public Works (DPW) has repaired 2,148 streetlight outages (including 182 on the interstate), retrieved 100 knocked-down poles, reset 237 leaning poles and installed 63 new poles,” the spokesperson said. “Work is currently underway at 27 sites impacting 229 lights.”

The spokesperson said the 182 repairs made on the interstate happened between the Paris Avenue exit on I-610 and the parish line.

On I-10 between I-610 and the Central Business District, there were 520 outages last week. As of Wednesday, the number was down to 460.

The next lane closure is scheduled for Feb. 2, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m., from Norman C. Francis Parkway to the Metairie Road exit.

“During Mardi Gras, contractors will be working on other outages throughout the city,” the city spokesperson said. “And, after Mardi Gras, residents should expect weekly lane closures to resume in order for the remaining interstate repairs to be made.”

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