Engineers call for New Orleans reconstruction advisory panel

The American Society of Civil Engineers has called for the creation of an independent, federally funded reconstruction panel to serve as the primary advisor to New Orleans officials on rebuilding the city and immediate surrounding areas.

“The panel would not have direct oversight,” said Marla Dalton, executive director of the Infrastructure Security Partnership, which was established after 9/11 as a forum for public and private non-profit organizations to collaborate on issues regarding the security of the nation’s built environment. “It would bring together technical experts to help oversee the construction.”

The recommendations of the panel would include strategies to minimize the impact of future storms and other hazards.

ASCE says the panel’s technical experts should be fully integrated with any federal agency involved in the rebuilding effort and would provide an objective review of all design and construction issues related to reconstruction, but would not have the authority to mandate solutions. The panel would consist of experts from engineering, architecture, planning and other construction-related fields.

TISP, which helped plan the panel, is in talks with Louisiana Gov. Kathleen Blanco to found the panel, and Dalton says the group hopes it will be funded by the Federal Emergency Management Agency.