It doesn't take a genius to figure out the city of Shreveport has some serious infrastructure problems. Just drive around, the problems are evident right underneath the tires on your car. But, do you know how bad it really is?
"Some evaluations I have done for the administration entails potentially $300 million dollars," city engineer Robert Westerman said.
Sounds bad right? Oh you haven't heard the half of it. In fact, that figure really isn't even half of it. That's just on roadways in the city. Are you ready for another number? This one to get the city's water and sewer systems up to par.
"Roughly $700 million potentially," Westerman said.
That brings us to around a billion dollars. Yes, a billion dollars.
Officials with the city's Department of Engineering and Environmental services say that billion dollars would not bring all of the infrastructure up to a "very good" level. That figure does not include the atrocious drainage system and the improvements that need to be made there. Drainage improvements in the city have not even been fully assessed, according to Westerman.
"It's going to continue to get worse. That's what the state of the Municipal Infrastructure report shows you. On our current path, we're adding $75 to $100 million dollars a year in more problems," Murray Lloyd, Shreveport city government watchdog.
This is the State of the Municipal Infrastructure report he was referring to. The latest report says that $1 billion dollar figure is actually not even enough for the city's infrastructure.
"While the city has funded over $253 million since 2006 for capital improvements, this figure does not come close to the nearly $1.5 billion identified in the Capital Projects and Proposed Infrastructure Improvement Programs that is needed to catch up."
"The system is in such poor shape that even if you fix a link, once you fix it, the next weak link breaks and you have to go in and fix the next one. Then next six feet will collapse and so on and so forth. Until we have a strategy for approaching this in a responsible way it's just going to keep getting worse."
One example of that found in this report and under your tires is what we should be spending according to the city engineer on roadway infrastructure in the city. It states the city needed to spend a little over $13 million a year on roadways in the city. In 2012, the city barely spent a million dollars and hovered around $4 million for several years, never coming close to what was needed.
Which is why the streets are notoriously awful. But, the city engineer says there is some glimmer hope.
"I think that we've made more progress in the last 2 or 3 years than I had seen in the 20 years before that," Westerman said.
"The major problem for this city is not that it's made mistakes. The major problem for this city is that it does not have the capacity to self correct. That's what needs to happen. People need to start meeting and saying how do we start correcting this?"
The State of the Municipal Infrastructure report is something that is now mandated because a group of citizens pushed to get these figures on paper for all to see where the city stands in terms of infrastructure. It is prepared twice a year by the city's engineering and environmental services department.