Residents pressed city-parish officials about the pace of road construction on O’Neal Lane and South Harrell’s Ferry Road at a public forum Thursday night.
About 30 residents attended the forum, hosted by Mayor-President Kip Holden and Department of Public Works Director William Daniel, to discuss the progress of the city’s Green Light and Sanitary Sewer Overflow plans.
“We have two pressure points: Harrell’s Ferry and Millerville,” said resident Richard Evans, who lives in White Oak Landing. “They have pinched us down.”
Evans asked the city-parish to provide some relief to local residents by opening some other route out of the neighborhood.
“I understand your frustration,” said Michael Songy, a principal partner with CSRS, the program manager for the city-parish’s Green Light Plan.
“What we are trying to do should have been done 10-15 years ago.”
Daniel added that delays in getting utility lines moved have added a year to the project.
Another resident, Genie Haydell, who lives in Parkview Oaks, said lowering the road on O’Neal would lead to flooding problems.
“You turn a road into a ditch,” she said. “It’s stupid.”
“There are a lot of stupid people in the United States, then, because that is very conventional,” Songy replied.
“You can’t do it in Louisiana,” Haydell responded.
Another man, Jim Atteberry, repeatedly questioned the expected cost of the city-parish’s massive sewer upgrade, called the Sanitary Sewer Overflow program.
He also raised the issue at a previous forum.
“We are looking at $1.5 billion now,” he said. “The original consent decree was for $618 million.”
The $618 million figure was an estimate and was never an official cost, Daniel said.
The sewer plan was put in place by a 2002 federal consent decree to address the parish’s crumbling sewer system.
It is funded by a half-cent sales tax and monthly sewer fees.
When completed, more than 80 percent of the city-parish’s 1,600 miles of sewer line will have been rehabilitated, said Michael Ellis, CH2M Hill project manager for the program.
The program has a federally mandated deadline for completion of Dec. 31, 2014, though the city-parish has asked for a three-year extension to finish projects in the “outlying” parts of the parish.
The Green Light Plan was approved by voters in 2005 and is the first road bond program of its kind since 1964. It is funded through a half-cent sales tax that will lapse in 2030.
The full cost of the Green Light Plan is estimated between $550 million and $600 million, said Michael Songy, program manager for the plan, of which about $438 million has already been invested.
The schedule and location for the next five meetings are as follows:
JUNE 5: 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., Dr. Leo S. Butler Center, 950 E. Washington St.
JUNE 7: 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., Gloryland Baptist Church, 2575 Michelli Drive.
JULY 9: 6:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m., Zachary Library, 1900 Church St. (La. 64).
JULY 21: 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. Bluebonnet Library, 9200 Bluebonnet Blvd.
JULY 23: 6 p.m. to 7 p.m., Greenwell Springs Library, 11300 Greenwell Springs Road.