Ouch! $26.7 m per mile to bury Johnston power lines
For all of us who have waited far too long to see our fair city’s biggest eyesore cleaned up, the news is disappointing. A study commissioned by Lafayette Utilities System finds that burying all of the power lines on Johnston Street would cost $26.7 million per mile. According to a story on the study published this weekend by The Advocate, it would cost $3,045 per foot of road, or $16 million a mile, just to bury the electric distribution lines and leave the larger transmission lines on poles.
That one mile is the stretch of Johnston Street between College Drive and Roselawn Boulevard. The study’s estimated costs are three to five times what some had hoped for.
Oh, the high cost of dumb growth.
“It was like a sinking feeling,” City-Parish President Joey Durel told The Advocate Friday when describing his reaction to the cost analysis.
Durel has maintained an interest in redeveloping Johnston Street since taking office in 2004, and burying the power lines was being considered along with a range of other improvements to transform the road into a more aesthetically pleasing and pedestrian-friendly corridor.
But he said the prospect of underground utilities now seems “impossible,” considering the cost and complications such as the need of some businesses to relocate because of the additional right-of-way needed to bury the power lines.
“When you start having to retrofit things, it gets pretty expensive,” LUS Director Terry Huval told the paper.
An animated feature on the home page of commercial real estate developer Reed Andrus' www.improvejohnston.org starts with the existing view of Johnston Street and South College looking south (Image 1). In image 2, Andrus’ graphics team removes overhead power lines. In image 3, the team substitutes monument signage for existing business signs, and landscaping is added in the final image. The new estimated price tag for burying the power lines makes it unlikely Andrus' vision and the community's hope of cleaning up this eyesore will happen any time soon.
Let’s keep Huval's comment in mind the next time we have an opportunity to do it right the first time. At the very least we should be burying empty electrical conduit while we’re laying water and sewer lines during road construction. That means no ongoing maintenance of lines, no contracts with tree trimmers, fewer outages in storms.
And that says nothing of the aesthetics.
Somebody please tell me why that won’t work on every new street project.
MAY 17 Here's a column from James Gill, this time in the Advocate. Gill, who has jumped ship from the Picayune, writes about the absurdity of dueling polls in this post. The numbers are so wildly different, it is obvious that both sides are "cooking the books," he writes. In particular, he looks at Sen. Mary Landrieu, and how her recent actions in DC have been received by those polled. Gill's acerbic, amusing prose is a welcome addition to a paper so conservative as to be occasionally lacking in personality.
MAY 17 Blogger Tom Aswell continues delivering bombshells about the state education department and Gov. Jindal's education "reform" efforts. In this post, he reports that students in the Shreveport area have been signed up for a charter school without their knowledge or consent. Most interesting to Aswell is how this Texas-based charter (with ties to GOP types) got the personal student information it has, if the students didn't give it.
MAY 17 This post by JR Ball in the Baton Rouge Business Report is an interesting tongue-in-cheek look at recent Baton Rouge economic development efforts. Among the items he examines is the idea that gaining a Costco makes BR a "world-class city." (Really? All you need is a different brand of Sam's? MK!) This effort, and other recent ones, are all built on the taxpayer's back, with tax zones, tax incentives and tax rebates, Ball writes.
MAY 17 Blogger CB Forgotston is critical of the legislature's reliance on a revenue-estimating committee's decision to include projected tax amnesty income in this year's forecast. That's a problem, CB posts, because the deadline for these people to pay their taxes is June 30, 2014. So when do you think these people who haven't paid taxes in years are going to pay their taxes? Surely not before June 30, and that means the money won't be there for this year's budget, he argues.
MAY 17 Here's an interesting blog out of California by a Hollywood writer, attorney and academic named Brian Alan Lane. He blogs about higher ed, and was a whistle-blower in a scandal over false credentials. In this post, he takes aim at LSU's new top dog, King Alexander. It's convoluted and a little confusing, but it sure makes Alexander a lot more interesting than he was yesterday.
MAY 17 Blogger Robert Mann writes about the LSU Board's refusal to allow Dr. Fred Cerise to testify before the legislature about Gov. Jindal's plan to close down all the state's charity hospitals and dump the poor on the private system. It's hard to imagine anyone more qualified than Cerise to testify about that, so why would anyone try to prevent him doing so? Mann thinks it is because the powers that be aren't interested in hearing any truth about the plan.
MAY 17 This post on the Louisiana Sinkhole Bugle, a blog that notes developments in the Bayou Corne and Jefferson Island salt domes, talks about a proposed expansion of the salt dome storage under Lake Peigneur in Iberia Parish. Residents are working against it for several reasons, including two biggies: the sinkhole disaster in Bayou Corne and the continuing, unexplained bubbling on the surface of the Lake.
MAY 17 NOLA police arrested more people Thursday accused of either being involved in the Mother's Day shooting or hiding the suspect afterward, this Gambit story reports. The NOLA police chief said he suspects the whole thing was gang-related and throws out a challenge to the gangs: he's got informants now, he says, and he knows a lot more than the gangs want him to know. The people who live in the neighborhoods terrorized by gangs are ready to talk, he says.
Is it a crime for citizens to photograph, video, or take notes of a police officer in the line of duty, or a right protected by the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution? Locally, such activity, as witnessed recently, will at the very least result in a night spent behind bars.
David Calhoun and Elizabeth “EB” Brooks are the first two employees of Lafayette Central Park Inc., the nonprofit charged with turning Lafayette Consolidated Government’s 100-acre Johnston Street Horse Farm property into a passive public park. Calhoun was named executive director, and Brooks is director of planning and design.
Episcopal School of Acadiana’s Dr. Joshua Caffery, chair of the school’s English Department, is headed to Washington, D.C., and the Library of Congress as the latest winner of the Alan Lomax Fellowship in Folklife Studies.