New Orleans’ Ninth Ward residents can cite many infrastructure developments their community desperately needs, such as improvements to the levee and a reliable bridge to the rest of the city. So, why does the state want to spend billions on a destructive freeway through the neighborhood that even truckers think is unnecessary?
“You say you come to inform, but there’s no information. You’re playing games with my home.” Schoolteacher and Ninth Ward resident Derrick Anthony Renkins Jr. was standing at a rancorous public meeting, passionately opposing the proposed Florida Avenue Roadway, a project that would funnel truck traffic through the Ninth Ward from neighboring St. Bernard Parish.
There were about 200 Ninth Ward community members in the Saint Mary of the Angels church that night to see what the Department of Transportation had planned for their home. This situation was unfortunately familiar for them. Ninth Ward residents continuously contend with infrastructure projects that disregard their well-being and ignore their input. It’s these polices that isolated the Lower Ninth Ward from the rest of the city, robbed it of public resources and caused it to suffer the worst devastation during Hurricane Katrina.
There was national recognition after Katrina that much of the storm’s destruction was human-made, and the US has moved closer to acknowledging the devastating impact of racist infrastructure projects and city planning. Former Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx admitted that “urban renewal” and highway building have harmed poor Black neighborhoods and recommended that future infrastructure projects benefit communities that “have been on the wrong side of transportation decisions.” Louisiana and the city of New Orleans have left this …read more