Documents Show Shreveport ‘Misplaced’ Over 1,000 Miles Of Road
Maybe we should check the couch cushions at Government Plaza? Because according to official city documents, the City of Shreveport has lost over 1,000 miles of city streets.
Before we get into this, all of our numbers are coming from the City of Shreveport's Comprehensive Annual Financial Report for 2020. This document contains information for the city through December 31st, 2020. So changes that have taken place during 2021 will not be reflected.
This document is over 175 pages, and has all kinds of incredible nuggets on how bad the City's finances are. We won't get into all of that right now, we're just going to focus on what it says about the City's roads.
For that, we're going to flip to pages176 and 177, where we find the list of assets held by the City. The title is Capital Assets Statistics By Function, Last Ten Years...a fancy way of saying what does the city own that is worth money. When we talk about "wealth", whether its a person or a business, their assets are taken into account. So these pages are included to show the "wealth" of the city, to offset how much the city owes in a way.
On these pages you will see how many Police Stations, golf courses, hotels, number of "water accounts", buses, playgrounds, tennis courts, (and a bunch of other stuff) that the City owns. For our focus today, we're going to look at how many miles of streets the City claims in their assets.
Streets are listed here by the mile, and back in 2011 (when this document starts tracking), the City of Shreveport claimed 3,326 miles of streets in their assets. As of 2020, that number shrunk to 2,275...a loss of 1,051 miles. Just a little less than the roadway to get from Government Plaza in Shreveport to The White House in Washington, DC (1,192 miles), or enough to get to Bowie, New Mexico (1,031 miles), or Cheyenne, Wyoming (1,058 miles).
That is A LOT of missing road.
Now we wanted to know what happened, so we asked three different Shreveport City Council members. Who they are doesn't matter. What does matter is that they call had the same answer, all independent of one another. They all said some form of "It has to be a typo". Which would make a lot of sense...except
The number listed for miles of streets changes often in this report. Here are the miles per year listed in the document:
2011 - 3,326 miles
2012 - 3,326 miles
2013 - 3,326 miles
2014 - 3,326 miles
2015 - 2,700 miles
2016 - 2,730 miles
2017 - 2,732 miles
2018 - 2,734 miles
2019 - 2,518 miles
2020 - 2,275 miles
This picture might be too small for some to read, but here are the numbers inside the report...
So was the typo from 2011 to 2014? Or is the typo now? Does Shreveport actually have over 3,000 miles of streets in the asset portfolio, or was it never that high?
This whole thing might seem pretty benign, but in a way its not.
This is an official city document, one that is over 10 years in the making. This is delivered to City Officials who make major decisions on the future of Shreveport based on what's written inside this. These numbers impact real changes. So if something as seemingly obvious as miles of streets can be off as much as 1,000 miles, what else is off?
This one sticks out as a big red flag, but what about the ones that don't stick out? What if there are elements in here that are just off by a bit, but there are a lot of them. Being off by $1,000 once in a document this big isn't a huge deal. But if that $1,000 mistake happens 100 times, now we're talking about a big number.
So where did the road go? Did Shreveport de-annex a large section of the city we weren't aware of? Did they tear up large sections of road and no one noticed? Maybe they don't want to claim un-drivable roads in their assets? That one would maybe make the most sense.