City of New Orleans, S&WB to begin major street upgrades in the French Quarter

Street Upgrades in the French Quarter

NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The City of New Orleans embarks on another multi-million-dollar infrastructure project in the French Quarter. The Department of Public Works and Sewerage and Water Board will began a $4.3 million reconstruction (replacement of the roadway and underground utilities) project Wednesday March 17, 2021.

Public works is using lessons learned to help ease the stress on businesses and residents.

It is the latest block closed off for major infrastructure updates.

Hard Rock Construction LLC repaired a drainage line at Bourbon and Conti streets and then installed fencing around the 700 block of Conti Street roadway between Bourbon and Royal streets to close the block to vehicular traffic. It is the latest block closed off for major construction in the last few years.

Ramsey Green, New Orleans Deputy Chief Administrative Officer for Infrastructure, explained the project across the street from the construction site. He said, “It’s a lot of work, but we’re trying to do it in a strategic way.”

The first phase in 2017 shut down three to four blocks of Bourbon Street at a time causing headaches for businesses and dampening the atmosphere for tourists.

Jay Melton said then, “A lot of people try to avoid the construction areas and it does affect business. Anybody with a good GPS will either go down Dauphine or Royal.”

Alicia Addie said, “You come through and the streets are all torn up and the sidewalks are too and I was like nahhhhh.”

Green says they took in a lot of information from businesses and residents to help improve conditions during the much needed work. He said, “We opened up a wider, pedestrian path so people can walk back and forth. We have overhead lighting and all the fencing along the sidewalk is drilled into the ground rather than held up by a flimsy fence with sandbags.”

All businesses will remain open and accessible throughout construction.

Josh Hartley is the project manager with New Orleans Public Works. He said, “We learned that from phase one of Bourbon so we applied that to here as well.”

Utility work began in Summer 2020. Now road crews will follow a block at a time replacing underground water, sewage and gas pipes. Hartley said, “Most of these projects that we are creating here are generated from the complaints that we received from the public.”

Each block will be shut down about two months. Sidewalk work will take another month with the street open.

Green said, “The amount of work that we put out in 2020 during the pandemic alone was about $500 million which is huge to our economy, huge to the safety of our city and the beauty of our city, but people need to acknowledge that progress has a little bit of pain.”

In addition to the underground upgrades the finished project will leave behind smooth concrete streets and wheelchair accessible ramps at the intersections and crossings.

The total project is expected to take eight months.

Green says people can sign up with Roadwork NOLA for specific updates on work in their area.

“We are very excited to begin this much-needed project and to improve upon the great work that was done with the Bourbon Phase 2 project,” said Green. “We are upsizing the drainage, rehabilitating the sewer system, and improving the overall quality of life with new, smooth pavement. And we are approaching this project with safety, accessibility, and comfort in mind. As we continue, we look forward to learning from both residents and businesses alike to ensure our work enhances the beauty of the French Quarter and creates an overall healthier environment.”

“Each shared infrastructure project like this that replaces our city’s water and sewer lines is a step in the right direction to remedy our aging systems,” said Ghassan Korban Executive Director of the Sewerage and Water Board of New Orleans. “As always, we are a proud partner of the City of New Orleans and the Department of Public Works.”

The city shared the following details in a written release:

“Design Elements

The scope of work calls for removing and replacing the existing pavement, replacing and upsizing the existing drain lines and catch basins, replacing the existing water lines, repairing and/or replacing the existing sewer lines, replacing the existing low pressure gas lines with high pressure gas lines, replacing and/or repairing the existing underground electrical duct banks, replacing sidewalks and adding American with Disabilities Act (ADA)-compliant curb ramps at intersections and a mid-block crossing at Exchange Place, as well as bollards the length the block on the Esplanade side/4th Circuit Supreme Court.

Once construction is completed in the 700 block of Conti roadway (anticipated in June 2021), the fence will be removed, and work will begin on sidewalks. When all construction has been completed in the 700 block and Entergy Gas/Entergy Electric crews have wrapped up their upgrades in the 600 block of Conti Street, Hard Rock crews will shift their operations into the 600 block roadway Royal and Chartres streets.

  • Full Roadway Closure: 700 block of Conti Street will be closed to vehicular traffic beginning at 8 a.m. on Monday, March 15 and remain closed through the duration of construction on this block. Commuters are advised to detour from Bourbon Street onto Toulouse Street and then onto Royal Street.
  • Workday Closure: 600 block of Conti Street will be intermittently closed to vehicular traffic daily while Entergy Gas and Entergy Electric crews are upgrading their utilities. Intermittent closures will continue through the duration of the project. During the day, commuters are advised to detour from Bourbon Street onto Toulouse Street and then onto Decatur Street. The 600 block will reopen to vehicular traffic each night.
  • Temporary Closure: 300 block of Chartres Street will be closed to vehicular traffic daily while Entergy Electric crews perform work at the intersection of Conti and Chartres streets. During the day, commuters are advised to detour from Bienville Street onto Bourbon Street onto Toulouse Street and then onto Decatur Street. The 300 block will reopen to vehicular traffic each night.
  • Future Intersection Closure: At some point during the project, the intersection of Royal and Conti streets will be closed to accommodate utility upgrades. A traffic advisory will be sent ahead of that closure.”

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