NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Starting the second week of April, crews will rip up and repair eight blocks of Bourbon St., and business owner Earl Bernhardt sees that as welcome news.
"Bourbon St. is not going to smell bad anymore. You're not going to have tourists falling in potholes, and that part is going to be great," Bernhardt said. "Against the curb of the street is washed out. It holds stagnant water, and there's nothing in the world that smells worst than stale beer. It actually smells like regurgitation."
At a meeting Friday, New Orleans city planners displayed pictures from the inside of pipes underneath Bourbon St. showing sections of drain lines completely collapsed or blocked, requiring a full replacement.
Engineers classified the road conditions down in the blocks scheduled for repair from poor to very poor.
"The Department of Public Works made it really clear that the infrastructure, especially sub-surface infrastructure, is in dire straits and really these repairs are necessary," Vieux Carré Property Owners, Residents & Associates Executive Director Meg Lousteau said.
French Quarter residents and business owners welcome the overhaul but understand it could affect foot traffic and deliveries while construction is ongoing.
"We're just going to have to deal with it because it needs to be done so badly, so we'll just do the best that we can," Bernhardt said.
Crews will start at the foot of Bourbon at Canal St. and complete two blocks at a time for two months at a time until the 800 hundred block is complete.
During the repaving project, the city plans to put up fences along the sidewalks to keep pedestrians from falling into the street. While this repaving project is ongoing, the city is also involved in a traffic study where certain sections of will be closed to vehicular traffic on Bourbon St. and making it pedestrian only at certain times.
"The city is convening a public meeting to discuss the traffic study that's going to be done in response to the proposal to close Bourbon St. to vehicular traffic and that's not just at night. That's pretty much around the clock and to cross traffic," Lousteau said. "When you look at a map of the French Quarter and you look at the one way streets, you realize that everything would have to change in order to accommodate that, and we're really curious how that would work and what would be the implications of that kind of change."
The city wants to change traffic in the French Quarter to thwart potential terrorists who might try to drive vehicles into crowds.