NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - For the past two years, one of the French Quarter's most important streets has resembled a war zone. But now, it's more beautiful than ever as the new $41 million, Rampart-St. Claude streetcar line returns for the first time in decades.
It was not a pleasant sight as the RTA replaced the old Rampart line.
"We've avoided it as much as possible," said New Orleanian Les Lane.
Work on the 1.6-mile stretch of Rampart Street and St. Claude Avenue between Canal Street and Elysian Fields Avenue is complete and service will begin Sunday.
It has been a difficult two years for some business owners who say they lost tens of thousands in revenue during construction.
"It caused a lot of disruption, but we're willing to do that because the end project will be a benefit," said Ace Hardware manager David Blazak.
"It's high time to see some energy and time spent in this neighborhood," said Michael Wilkinson with French Quarter Realty.
With the new service, Marigny residents can take a streetcar all the way to the Superdome if they like, or make connections to get to City Park, the riverfront, or Carrollton Avenue.
"It's amazing. The road is perfect - it's a super speedway, in a way," said Lane.
Though the new Rampart streetcar line is being universally well-received, there are concerns about some of the lingering impacts of the construction phase.
"We got big cracks in both of these windows over here," said Blazak.
Blazak said his requests for compensation for window damage have so far fallen on deaf ears.
"They had me submit bids, and now they're saying we're not going to pay for it," he said.
Construction damage aside, the new line is expected to boost real estate values.
"I think Rampart Street will change, and I'd like to see some of the old clubs come back," said Lane.
Though this line is new, it replaces one that was torn out in favor of buses back in 1949.
"I think it's going to help along St. Claude, which has been rebuilding anyway, and it's an extra kick for them," Wilkinson said.
And there could be even more of a kick in the future as the RTA looks into possibly extending the new line all the way to the Lower Ninth Ward.
The new line will operate from 6 a.m. to midnight, with a "red lady" streetcar rolling by every 20 minutes.
As for the window damage, this afternoon the RTA said it was working with the contractor to make repairs.