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The Office of Inspector General (OIG) of the City of New Orleans (City) conducted an inspection of the Department of Public Work’s (DPW) policies and procedures for addressing pothole-related service requests submitted to the NOLA-311 service request system.

In 2016 the City published a pavement analysis which showed 65 percent of the city’s streets were in poor or very poor condition. Since then, the City has made advances that specifically include street repair via RoadworkNola, a joint effort between the Department of Public Works (DPW) and the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans (S&WB). However, citizens of New Orleans continued to report a significant number of potholes each year. The City encouraged community members to report potholes by calling 3-1-1 or through the NOLA-311 system, operated by the Orleans Parish Communications District (OPCD).

This inspection looked at not only the DPW and OPCD policies surrounding the repair of potholes, but whether the City repaired potholes in a manner that was timely, efficient, and transparent to citizens.

The Office of Inspector General of the City of New Orleans (OIG) conducted an evaluation of the management and operations of the Traffic Camera Safety Program (TCSP or “program”). The purpose of the evaluation was to determine whether the program was operating in accordance with applicable laws, policies, and best practices, and whether the City provided effective oversight of the program.

The TCSP started in 2007 and used photos and video footage to issue traffic citations for red light and speeding violations, particularly in school zones. The stated purpose of the program was to improve traffic safety.

In June of 2017, the OIG received a complaint that Sewerage and Water Board employees were parking for free on and around St. Joseph Street by using handicapped parking placards in their personal vehicles. Vehicles bearing a handicap hang-tag issued to a mobility-impaired person or person with disabilities that are being operated for the transport of the mobility-impaired person or person with disabilities can park in a metered parking space for up to three (3) hours without payment. The investigation identified 26 S&WB employees using unauthorized handicapped placards to park for free in metered spots around S&WB headquarters. The OIG, with the assistance of the Louisiana State Police, determined that the aforementioned 26 employees were not authorized by the Louisiana Office of Motor Vehicles to display the handicapped placards in their vehicles.

OIG investigators also observed that none of the vehicles bearing a handicapped parking placard parked in the vicinity of the S&WB main office at 625 Saint Joseph Street had received a parking ticket for parking beyond the allotted three hours. Consequently, S&WB employees may have deprived the City of approximately $197,000 per year in parking meter revenue because they exceeded the three-hour free parking benefit. The OIG provided this information to the City’s Department of Public Works (DPW). DPW initiated enforcement action and Parking Enforcement Officers issued citations to vehicles for expired meters. Furthermore, DPW will assign Parking Enforcement Officers to do a monthly sweep of the area around S&WB headquarters looking for potential violations.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, pedestrian crossing signals increase pedestrian safety. Yet 87 percent of signalized intersections in New Orleans did not have pedestrian crossing signals. A longstanding informal practice at the Department of Public Works (DPW) restricted the use of pedestrian signals, and decisions about when and where to install walk signals were based on a “gut call.”
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