Port, City of New Orleans & Public Belt forge plan to add green space along river

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - A landmark agreement between the city, Port of New Orleans and Public Belt Railroad, to provide residents and visitors with more riverfront access, passes its first hurdle.

On a beautiful Friday afternoon, residents and visitors alike take in the beauty of the Mississippi. Plans set into motion Friday could soon create even more green space along the water for the public to enjoy.

Ryan Berni, deputy mayor of external affairs, comments, "This is a once in a generation opportunity to open the New Orleans riverfront to the public."

This morning, Port of New Orleans commissioners voted to approve a resolution that opens up talks with the city.

"All of the parties that came to the table willing to talk, I think came to an understanding of the mutual objectives of each party," Port CEO Brandy Christian, said.

The opportunity calls for the port to give the Governor Nicholls Wharf and the Esplanade Avenue Wharf to the city, in exchange for the city-owned Public Belt Railroad.

"I think in today's business, we move so many containers and the opportunity to move those by rail, really gives a lot more options to the port and really makes us much more competitive," Christian explained.

The two wharves are flanked by green space on either side including the recently opened Crescent Park. City leaders would like to use the Crescent Park model to come up with ideas for the wharves. The ultimate goal is to create a three-mile long stretch of riverfront.

"We're going to go through a design process. We're going to be engaging the community in the design processes over the next few months," Berni said.

The cost to convert the wharves into public space is about $15 million. The bulk of the money is expected to be contributed by the convention center.

Monday, the Public Belt Commission will vote on the preliminary plan before the deal gets sent to the city council. In all, it may take about a year before the plan is finalized.

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