Hearing on Bourbon Street changes gets rowdy, heated

Hearing on Bourbon Street changes gets rowdy, heated

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - French Quarter residents and business owners packed a public hearing on the city's proposal to make Bourbon Street a pedestrian-only zone, many of them getting angry after the city only allowed them to voice their concerns and questions on comment cards.

"You can't take this 10x13-block area and screw with it more than you already have," said French Quarter resident Casandra Sharp. "You're creating problems, you're making up problems. There is a veil here and the veil is the city is not keeping our city clean. The Quarter is filthy, the hands of the police are tied, we have tourists here that are bothered when they go up and down the streets, and all of this is just a charade."

During the meeting, AECOM, the engineering firm hired to study traffic flow and create potential plans for the project, admitted that its ideas wouldn't make everyone happy.

"So we have four terrible ideas now to show you about how to close the side streets. If you have a better one, there is a job waiting for you at AECOM or the city," said AECOM employee Derek Chism.

Business owners think any closure of Bourbon could hurt their bottom line, especially the dozens of horse-drawn carriages in the Quarter.

"If the bollards will not go down or if they're permanent, they will basically put the carriage industry out of business. Every French Quarter tour the carriages provide they have to traverse over Bourbon," said Malachi Hull with Royal Carriages.

In fact, some carriage drivers think it could end up costing tourists even more.

"We would have to go to Canal, we would have to go way down to Ursuline. We do half-hour and hour tours. It's based on the time, it's going to add time and people are going to get less for their money," said carriage driver Robin Coffey.

Delivery drivers think it puts even more on their already heavy workloads.

"You're going to upset every bar and every delivery company. I mean taxicabs, Ubers are one thing. Drivers, they can still get around, but delivery trucks, they're rolling 200-300 cases into a barroom, and rolling a block sometimes through the French Quarter is killer. So having to roll three or four blocks - people aren't gonna want to make deliveries," said delivery driver Derek Arceneaux.

The city said all of the proposals are still a work in progress and nothing is set in stone. It said it will consider Tuesday evening's public comment as it goes forward in the process.

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