Officials, residents discuss future of Claiborne Ave. corridor

Published: Oct. 8, 2013 at 1:57 AM CDT|Updated: Oct. 15, 2013 at 2:22 AM CDT
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NEW ORLEANS - The Claiborne Avenue corridor is an area with a storied past - one longtime residents speak of fondly.

"It used to be a wonderful neighborhood," said Treme resident Frances Williams.

On Monday, Williams and others gathered to learn more about a federally funded study that aimed to find the best path forward to make the communities along the corridor more livable.

City officials said one area of concern stands out.

"One of the things we're trying to really focus on is the relationship between transportation and community revitalization," said Bill Gilchrist, the city's director of place-based planning. "It's an approach that has not been as practiced as it should have been and we want to make sure that for the future of livable Claiborne community that we're really leveraging both land use, culture, economic investment, with transportation systems."

A key point of debate has been whether or not to tear down the elevated I-10 that towers above Claiborne.

Some believe it would remove an eyesore and spur business development, while others say it would have a major, negative impact on traffic.

According to Gilchrist, multiple options are still on the table, ranging from ramp modifications to total removal.

"There's no preferred alternative stated now," he said. "We're looking at viable alternatives that then can go into a next phase."

With the nearby medical corridor coming on line over the next few years, some believe the stakes are higher than ever.

Rev. Dwight Webster with Christian Unity Baptist Church wants to see a fair path forward, especially when it comes to the many African-American businesses that have been lost over the years.

"We may not be able to bring them back, but we can create a climate where competent, qualified black business can be there, can be thriving, and it can cater and serve the whole populace," Webster said. "The potential is so awesome and so great."