ASK THE ADVOCATE: Utilities and repair work

Advocate staff photo by LIZ CONDO. Photo shot on 12/17/10. Trax No. 00024211A / Cecil Manchester, bottom right, uses a vibratory compactor to pack down sand that is backfilled into a trench by operator Joel Murrah, back center, along N. 11th St. in Baton Rouge. Construction contractor Reynolds, Inc. is installing a new sewer line under the street as part of the Baton Rouge SSO Program. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by LIZ CONDO. Photo shot on 12/17/10. Trax No. 00024211A / Cecil Manchester, bottom right, uses a vibratory compactor to pack down sand that is backfilled into a trench by operator Joel Murrah, back center, along N. 11th St. in Baton Rouge. Construction contractor Reynolds, Inc. is installing a new sewer line under the street as part of the Baton Rouge SSO Program.

Is the city of Baton Rouge required to notify homeowners of electrical, water or gas shutoffs before any repair work is started?

Response from Bryan Harmon, deputy director, East Baton Rouge city-parish Department of Public Works:

It’s not real clear regarding what is being referred to by the term “repair work.” Are they referring to relocation work that may be required as part of our roadway or sewer construction, or are they referring to repair work or facility upgrades being made by a utility company? There is no formal prior notification required by law. In many cases, this would be impractical since much of the utility work is emergency response in nature. In regards to DPW projects that impact existing utility lines, it is our goal to try and communicate any known shutdowns that may be a result of our construction projects via door hangers and or knocking on doors in the area. However, DPW and/or our construction contractor coordinating any shutdown notifications becomes difficult since the utilities companies are private and any repair and/or relocations are done by them or by their private contractor. Being that the utilities are private and they own these facilities, we cannot work on their lines and we have no direct control over when materials may be ordered, what materials may be in storage and available locally, and when their contractor may be available for the work. Also they may have to mobilize to the job site from other projects and/or have to abandon work at the project site to address other emergencies.