In an attempt to finally address a longstanding backlog and fill the tens of thousands of potholes across the city, the New Orleans Department of Streets has announced it will allow residents to “adopt” a pothole free of charge and use it as a burial plot for their loved ones.
“Buying a burial plot today is extremely expensive — so is filling in a pothole,” Cecil “John” DeLuca, Department of Streets spokesman said.
“But if you adopt a pothole, you don’t have to pay thousands for a plot and we don’t have to pay thousands for the equipment and crews to fill in the potholes. It’s a win-win for the citizens and the city.”
According to the city’s press release for the new Burial Plot Pothole Program, the deceased would have their name placed on the sidewalk at the closest street corner to wherever they are buried, displayed in the blue and white porcelain letters that are so iconic in older parts of New Orleans. There would be no charge to the surviving family members. Though, for a fee, the intersection may be honorarily named for the deceased.
Deluca said families would have to agree to cover their loved ones according to the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development roadbed standards and must agree to maintain the site in perpetuity or pay for a “Perpetual Care” agreement with the city.
Though preference for pothole locations will be given to family members whose relative has died as a result of violence in the city, generally the spots will be given away on a first-come, first-serve basis, and will have to be filled immediately.
“Don’t adopt a pothole for yourself thinking you can wait 30 years before using it,” DeLuca said. “If you, a friend, or a family member goes into the hospital unexpectedly and the doctor says it doesn’t look good, give us a call. The warmer the body the better it will form to the roadbed.”
Mayor LaToya Cantrell said she is excited for the program to get underway and will help showcase to the nation that the city is a problem solver.
“Traditional thinking is not going to answer our city’s challenges,” the mayor said. “We needed fresh, out-of-the-box ideas, and, ironically, the solution ended up being people who are usually in boxes. Bones are some of the hardest things in existence, especially when still connected to tendons allowing flexibility.”
“This will provide an innovative approach to finally fixing our streets while also offering help to citizens when it comes to increasingly unaffordable burial costs. People can literally become a part of New Orleans. It’s truly an exciting time to live — and now die — in New Orleans. I’m proud of this pioneering program and believe it will become a blueprint that other cities will follow.”
Public records show three individuals – a Mr. Lee, a Mr. Beauregard, and a Mr. Davis – have already been signed up for the pilot program.