NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - Uptown parade revelers could be in for major headaches this year. That's because drainage work is limiting where people will be able to stand.
If you're a Carnival regular, you probably have a favorite spot to catch the parades. For many people, it's Napoleon Avenue.
"There's tons of people that set up every single year on the neutral ground," said Napoleon Avenue resident Kevin Burke.
But drainage work being done by the Army Corps of Engineers will put a big cramp in tradition.
Mayor Mitch Landrieu says, "For all the dads out there and the moms that are pulling, you know, those ladders around, you might want to go take a look and you might want to make a plan."
The entire neutral ground of Napoleon is off limits. Drainage work is also being done on Jefferson at St. Charles, limiting viewing areas around that intersection, as well.
"This year particularly is going to be a challenge," Landrieu said.
Lt. Col. Austin Appleton with the Army Corps of Engineers explains, "While it may not seem like it now, we are confident the benefits these areas will gain in flood risk reduction, overweighs the impacts and inconveniences many of you are encountering daily."
For Jim Hunter, a bartender at Ms. Mae's bar, that means lost revenue. "It's hard to keep regular business here let alone Mardi Gras business," Hunter said.
The bartender says the traffic congestion due to the construction is driving away customers, and he predicts that if people can't congregate on the neutral ground along Napoleon, things will only get worse.
"It's really going to ruin Mardi Gras down this direction, I'm afraid," Hunter commented.
Kevin Burke says there aren't too many open spots for people to stand. "Unless you live on this side of the street, you can't really set up here," Burke explained.
So Burke predicts St. Charles Avenue will be more crowded than usual, with people vying for open spots to set up ladders. But don't try to plan too early, the mayor warns. "Let me say this because it's started already, everybody's out there grabbing your space, that doesn't work. You can't rope off areas of the neutral ground."
And make sure the ladders you set up are 6 feet from the curb and not fastened together, because that's a safety hazard.
Because of all the drainage work and construction, Landrieu says there will be no parking along the parade route on St. Charles, Napoleon and Tchoupitoulas.
The Army Corps says it's in the process of cleaning up Napoleon Avenue a bit ahead of Mardi Gras and is trying to reduce its construction footprint as much as possible.