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French Quarter street construction causing headaches

Street construction is causing quite the headache for French Quarter drivers, residents and businesses.  Constant detours and construction noise have become almost unavoidable throughout the Quarter, but for some it's just a reminder of the price of progress.

Everywhere you turn in the heart of the French Quarter, DOTD crews are milling, stripping and repaving stretches of streets from one end of the Quarter to the other.

"Since I've lived here, they've never done any street repairs, but it needs it," said Poncho Laperle, owner of Lamina Sterling.

Laperle says he's looking forward to the end result. His jewelry shop that's been on the corner of Royal and Dumaine for 22 years.  "Hopefully it will get everybody out here, and start walking on the nice sidewalks," said Laperle.

"Most of my traffic is foot traffic anyway, so it's like we don't get many locals shopping in the Quarter anyway, so it's not like they're driving in. The worst part is me getting to work sometimes," said Laperle.

And for many, that's the main issue: driving and parking in the Quarter.  Residents and businesses owners are trying to live through the temporary inconveniences but say it's turning into a major hassle.

"We have gotten a number of complaints from residents and businesses who are inconvenienced at best by the sheer volume of street repairs that's going on in the French Quarter," said Meg Lousteau, executive director of the group Vieux Carre Property Owners, Residents & Associates (VCPORA).

It's the largest French Quarter project in almost three decades.  Royal, Dauphine, and Burgundy are all being resurfaced from Canal to Esplanade.  10 other sections, including parts of Toulouse, Decatur, and St. Louis, are set to be complete before Christmas.

The street repair project is part of the "Path to Progress" initiative, a federal and state venture. More than $8 million come from federal funding sources, while $3 million is matched by the City of New Orleans.

"There is a lot going on, and we understand from the contractor, from the city, that the speed at which they're trying to do the work is really unprecedented.  They're trying to get a lot done in a short amount of time, so the inconvenience is kind of compressed time-wise for a lot of people and that's magnifying the effects," said Lousteau.

"It's just a moving project, they're going as fast as they can, trying not to impede too much," said Annie Flettrich, executive director of the French Quarter Business Association.

Laperle says he'll deal with the temporary headache in exchange for a major French Quarter upgrade.

"When it's done, it's going to be nice, I can tell," said Laperle.

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