Poydras Street pothole causes traffic headache for downtown commuters; City says S&WB must repair leak

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) – Water gushing from a massive pothole on Poydras Street is causing major traffic issues in downtown New Orleans. Drivers must carefully navigate the busy street because of the crater.

A spokesperson for the City of New Orleans said the Department of Public Works inspected the location near Carondelet Street and determined it was an active water leak that the Sewerage & Water Board must repair. The DPW placed additional barricades around the pothole on Monday (Aug. 8).

A spokesperson for the S&WB said the leak is from a 20-inch water main.

“Crews are scheduled to be on site (Tuesday) morning to begin repairs, weather permitting,” said Grace Birch, interim communications director for the S&WB.

But the repair is a long time coming, according to those who pass it every day.

“It’s been here for several months,” said a woman named Kelly, who works in the Central Business District. “It’s ridiculous. There actually was a car in it this morning. I’m pretty sure they had to get towed out, because there was no way she was getting out of it.”

The driver hit the pothole Monday morning, causing damage to her vehicle.

Driver hits massive pothole on Poydras Street near Carondelet Street.
Driver hits massive pothole on Poydras Street near Carondelet Street.(Photo provided by Pelican State Provisions)

A city spokesperson said someone must have moved traffic cones previously in place, which opened up the hazard to drivers.

“They had no cones this morning, so I don’t know who came and put the cones up. But they did not have them here this morning,” said Kelly. “And it looks like part of the road, so in she went.”

Similar accidents are keeping auto repair shops in New Orleans busy, working on damaged vehicles from the city’s cracked, pitted and often only partially-repaired streets.

“It’s like every day,” said Chuck Hamback, owner of Smiling Chuck’s auto repair shop. “There’s not a car out there that is under 8-10 years old that doesn’t make noise.”

He said every time a driver hits a pothole, some sort of damage is done to the vehicle. And over time, it gets worse.

“Potholes knock things out of alignment. Wheel bearings, shocks, struts, sway bar links … tires,” he said. “Electronics don’t like to get banged around. People don’t like to get banged around.”

Hitting potholes like the one on Poydras Street, he said, can cost drivers hundreds of dollars in repairs, depending on the damage.

“Body work, suspension work. Really, something like that, it’s hard to say how much it’s actually going to cost.”

Hamback said sights like that are all too common in New Orleans.

“Everywhere you go, you see nothing but potholes. They start construction and they don’t finish it,” said John Raphael, another concerned citizen. “It’s very dangerous.”

And residents say they are frustrated.

The city spokesperson said there is a process when it comes to addressing potholes in the city:

  • DPW sends an inspector, typically in the same week of receiving the complaint, to determine the cause of the failure.
  • If it is determined to be a utility or other failure not caused by a City asset, then the inspector updates 311 and notifies the appropriate agency.
  • Dependent of location, type of street, and other factors, DPW will place barricades to protect the general public until the agency takes action.
  • If it is determined that it is a City asset causing the failure, DPW will use contracts and/or internal pavement crews to repair the failure.

The spokesperson said is in the process of bidding out six repair contracts that can make repairs to the drainage and pavement systems similar to the issues on Poydras Street.

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