Canal Street collapse becomes tourist site as officials plan repairs

Canal St. collapses in downtown New Orleans

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Part of Canal Street caved in near Harrah's Casino on Friday afternoon. By nightfall, people were still coming to see it for themselves and take pictures.

The hole appears larger than an SUV.

"This is nothing short of incredible," said Mayor Mitch Landrieu during a news conference.

The mayor said the section of street that collapsed was over a tunnel that was constructed in the 1960s to allow traffic between Canal and Poydras streets. He said that with 40 percent of the city's water pipes leaking and the recent heavy rains, the structure beneath the ground, already compromised, gave way.

No one was hurt when the street collapsed.

Landrieu estimated that repairs would take three to six months at a cost of $3 million to $5 million and said the incident shines a spotlight on a much larger infrastructure problem.

That part of the street had been blocked off for more than a week when workers saw that a wall in the tunnel had started to buckle.

When asked if the hole could get bigger, Sewerage and Water Board Director Cedric Grant said that was a possibility.

The tunnel was originally designed to handle six lanes of high speed interstate traffic. It was begun in 1964 and was completed in 1966, along with the Rivergate exhibition hall. The tunnel would have connected with an elevated riverfront expressway, but those plans were ultimately rejected because of fierce opposition from preservationists who said it would damage the historic French Quarter.

Copyright 2016 WVUE. All rights reserved.