Friday, February 15, 2008

LRA Progress Report

This came in the Email:

Progress Report - Feb. 15, 2008

In this issue:
New Twin Spans ahead of schedule
Carnival trash haul reaches pre-storm levels
New Orleans bucks national construction downturn
New Orleans' first dog park planned for City Park
Nike dedicates courts in New Orleans

New Twin Spans ahead of schedule

Crediting favorable weather conditions and a steady supply of construction materials, transportation officials say the new Interstate 10 twin spans across Lake Pontchartrain are taking shape ahead of schedule and should be available for partial use by the 2009 hurricane season.
State Department of Transportation and Development officials had originally projected that the new structure, an $803 million project that will be wider, taller and stronger than the Katrina-battered I-10 bridge between Slidell and eastern New Orleans, would open in late 2009.
Essentially hurricane-proof, the 5 1/2-mile bridge, touted as the largest public works project in the state's history, will rise 30 feet above the lake with 80-foot high-rises, keeping it out of reach of storm surges. The structures will also be nearly twice as wide as the existing bridge, which will ease traffic, officials say.

Carnival trash haul reaches pre-storm levels

Judging by the mounds of broken beads, plastic bags and food scraps left in the wake of this year's parades -- and the number of workers needed to clean it all up -- Carnival has rebounded to its pre-storm strength, New Orleans' sanitation director said.
Though City Hall no longer measures the season's success by the amount of garbage left on the streets -- the method encourages revelers to trash the city, officials say -- Sanitation Director Veronica White said that based on the number of laborers and pieces of heavy machinery she deployed to clean up after parades this year, the celebration has returned to levels unseen since the August 2005 hurricane.
"This year there was definitely more trash," noted White, who said she rides behind each night's final parade to oversee trash crews' first sweep of the routes. "It was definitely more like normal, more like pre-Katrina than the past few years."

New Orleans bucks national construction downturn

The New Orleans construction industry started strong in 2008 even as building slowed in the rest of the country.
A larger-than-average 426 commercial and residential construction permits worth $101 million total were filed in the New Orleans metropolitan area through Jan. 25, according to the Treen Permit Report.
Building permits are up 3.6 percent from the 411 permits in January 2007, with total spending on up 13.5 percent from last year's $89 million.
The increase signifies construction will remain solid here even as it reels nationally, said Ivan J. Miestchovich Jr., director of the University of New Orleans Real Estate Market Data and Center for Economic Development.
"New Orleans is less sensitive to a downturn in the economy because the rebuilding work is necessary, and government-funded so it is unlikely that spending will be cut back on it," said Heather Jones, construction economist for FMI Research Services Gr! oup of Raleigh, N.C.
Post-Katrina demand is also expected to keep homebuilders working even as the national residential market stagnates.

New Orleans' first dog park planned for City Park

NOLA City Bark, a non-profit group, is in the process of raising $500,000 for the city's first dog park. To be located on a 4.6 acre spread near Popp Fountain in City Park, the dog park will be an enclosed, off-leash canine exercise area.
The dog park is a joint project of NOLA City Bark, City Park and the Friends of City Park. NOLA City Bark is a non-profit organization whose mission is "to develop a safe and sustainable area in City Park for off-leash, owner supervised, socialization of our canine companions in order to provide personal and community enrichment, recreation, educational activities, and promote the health and well being of the citizens and canines of metropolitan New Orleans."

To help in the fundraising effort or for more information, visit www.nolacitybark.org.
Nike dedicates courts in New Orleans

Nike Inc. has announced the formal dedication in New Orleans of five basketball courts it used recycled shoes to help build. The company also is expected to announce plans for a so-called "community store" in Mid City, meant, in part, to provide work experience to young people and to act as a hub in that neighborhood rebounding after Hurricane Katrina.
The store would open in April and be the third of its type for Nike, according to Sandy Pressley, general manager of Nike's Southern region. It would come with a $50,000 annual grant that nonprofits can apply for, she said.
Both announcements are set to coincide with NBA All-Star weekend.
Since Katrina, Nike says it's donated more than $7 million in cash and product to New Orleans. The company has focused on youth and helping give them healthy alternatives to occupy their time.

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