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Business owners brace for more construction on 'finished' block of Bourbon

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NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) -

You can expect more construction in the 100 block of Bourbon Street. City officials say they must make repairs after they failed to reconnect a sewer line during phase one. Now, business owners are bracing themselves after the first round of construction took a toll on their bottom line.

"When's it going to end?" 

Hustler Hollywood Store manager Laura Talbert is frustrated. She learned the city is planning more construction for the 100 block of Bourbon Street after months of lost business the first time around.

"We were being patient and we were pretty excited when it opened up again. We saw a huge increase in traffic," said Talbert. "It was a little disappointing because we just kind of started to forget about the construction and with summer coming on, the concept of being claustrophobic is a little intimidating."

Representatives with the city say the Public Works department has to remove a 10-foot section of the sidewalk to reconnect the sewer line because it didn't realize it was still in use. They say the line was never assessed because it was incorrectly tied to drainage instead of the sewer system.

"They should've caught it the first time," said Bourbon Street Alliance President Earl Bernhardt, who owns several clubs and bars. 

Bernhardt says he saw business drop 70 percent during construction on the 400 block.

"I think it's a real shame, because it really hurts the businesses so bad when they did it the first time," he said.

Yet, business owners say there is a potential up side - an end to the sewage stench.

"People were plugging their noses this morning," Talbert said. "There was a pretty significant sewage odor this morning. I don't know if that was the normal Bourbon Street odor."

"If it gets rid of that, maybe it's worth the inconvenience, but something has to be done. The street's in such bad shape, we can't continue to be a prime tourist attraction with that sort of situation existing," Bernhardt explained.

The construction is set to last a week, and after the first go-round took months longer than expected, folks like Talbert are hoping workers stay on schedule.

"We're hoping that it really does only last a week," she said. 

The construction is set to cost $25,000. The city says the Department of Public Works will split the cost with the Sewerage and Water Board. 

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