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Critical Thinking–Guest Editorial–Mayor Bart Niedner

Posted on Tuesday, November 14, 2017 at 2:30 pm

Georgia Street is in need of repair. And it is not just the street’s surface – the water distribution, sanitary sewer, and stormwater infrastructure that is under and adjacent to Georgia Street needs critical attention as well. This is not news to anyone. It has been a long journey to line up all of the parts and get to this point, but we are ready to begin the physical work. In fact, some of that work is already underway.
The first step was to understand what we needed to do with the infrastructure under the street. As we began that process, it became apparent that since the Georgia Street corridor is a central artery for all of Louisiana, we needed to have a comprehensive, city-wide plan for infrastructure. Georgia Street infrastructure can only be accurately assessed when we understand the full system. A comprehensive evaluation of the water distribution, sanitary sewer, and stormwater systems has never been done before in Louisiana. These systems have been built and patched in separate stages over the past 200 years. Over the past two years, we have completed the engineering and now know what the most cost-effective and efficient path forward is, not only for Georgia Street but all of Louisiana. This allows us to maximize the Georgia Street Corridor project and make better choices as we move forward throughout Louisiana in the years to come.
The Georgia Street Corridor Project is a $4,178,000 endeavor. This number is the result of balancing the available funding with maximum benefit. There was a lot of hard work with engineers, bond counsel, the City Council, and others to evaluate this. In essence, the question was “What is the best project we can do with the funding available?” This is a complex project which utilizes numerous engineers, contractors, inter-connecting timelines, complex state and federal regulations, and a variety of funding mechanisms. I have to take my hat off to City Administrator, Kelly Henderson, for pulling together all of the pieces and making this project feasible. It is an enormous task!
By law, funding is comprised of the recently passed transportation and stormwater taxes (for streets and stormwater) and user rates (for water distribution and sanitary sewer). The costs and funding are a combination of four Certificates of Participation packages (COP):
· Sanitary Sewer: $450,000
15-year COP ($4.53 per month at 110%. 1,478 sewer users.)
Lifespan: 50+ years.
· Water Distribution: $915,000
18-year COP ($2.67 per month at 110%. 1,546 water users.)
Lifespan: 50+ years.
· Storm Water: $816,000
15-year COP (75% of net stormwater tax.)
Lifespan: 25+ years.
· Roadway, ADA Sidewalks, Lighting: $1,997,000
20-year COP (85% of net transportation tax.)
Lifespan: 25+ years.
The project timeline is:
· December 2017: Start Sanitary Sewer
· February 2018: Start Storm Water
· March 2018: Start Water Distribution
· April 2018: Start Mill/Fill. End Sanitary Sewer. Other Louisiana Streets.
· May 2018: End Mill/Fill.
· August 2018: Start Full Street. End Storm. End Water.
· September 2018: End Full Street.
Note that in April 2018 I listed “other Louisiana streets.” We are maximizing the transportation tax funds dedicated to streets outside of the Georgia Street corridor by scheduling that work to coincide with this major project. In this way we will enjoy lower per unit costs and be able to address more trouble spots in town.
The result of all of this will be a complete renewal of water distribution, sanitary sewer, stormwater, streets, and ADA sidewalks from 4th Street to the hospital; and sanitary sewer renewal with “mill & fill” resurfacing from the hospital to the Stark Cabin. The “full treatment” area between Fourth Street and the hospital will include colored crosswalks at the side-street intersections, a periodic bicentennial sidewalk stamp, pads for 22 bench areas, and foundations with electric for additional future lighting. We will end up with a new street surface for the full length of Georgia and maximized infrastructure renewal for as far as our funding will take us. We will know what infrastructure remains to be addressed, and we will be well poised for future improvements such as lighting. And Georgia Street will have a sense of identity which celebrates this step forward in our bicentennial year.
We have made every effort to maximize the benefit and limit the expense for this important work while at the same time doing a first-class project of which Louisiana may feel proud. Please be patient with the construction and detours over the next ten months. We will emerge having addressed a major need which will enhance our quality of life, encourage economic development, and celebrate our rich history!

Mayor Bart Niedner