Magazine Street construction catches business owners by surprise

Magazine Street construction catches business owners by surprise

NEW ORLEANS, LA (WVUE) - If you've been by Magazine the last few days, you've likely noticed construction blocking off parts of the busy street. It started Tuesday and is expected to last through the end of January.

The project affects the popular corridor from Louisiana to Toledano, and while many are used to seeing road closures, business owners in the area say they weren't prepared for these closures.

It's highly unusual for this strip of Magazine.

"There is no one here. It's as quiet as I've ever heard it. Ever. Here," said President and COO of Dat Dog Bill DiPaola.

It's also the last thing business owners want a day from the start of the Carnival season.

"Prime money-making season," said DiPaola.

Locals say you don't have to look far to learn what's silenced this usually bustling street.

"Because they think 'road closed, business closed.' Well, how are you supposed to decipher that if you're from out of town?" said DiPaola.

DiPaola is all for the construction.

"Clearly, this needs to happen," he said.

Yet, not without the proper notification to business owners and residents.

"It hits the business community very hard and it hits the residents very hard," DiPaola said. "There had to be some way we should have known beforehand."

While Dat Dog isn't in any money trouble due to the road work, DiPaola says he lost several employees. They're employees he's confident he could've kept had there been more warning.

"We needed that. We all in the business community needed that for when we buy supplies, when we buy inventory, when we planned out labor and scheduling and hiring. Those things are absolutely necessary, and we needed that warning pretty badly because it's hard when you spend your money on inventory and then you have a tough thing like this happen, and now you got some bills to pay," DiPaola explained.  
FOX 8 News asked the Army Corps of Engineers why the late notice. Representatives say they usually give a month's notice once they have an approved schedule through the department of Public Works. But they say they weren't able to get the okay any earlier this time. They say, unfortunately, that meant they were not able to provide sufficient notice.

While he worries about the affect construction will have on visitor traffic, locals say they won't be deterred.

"It hasn't been a big issue with traffic. I usually walk which is a bit easier but, if you're driving, it could definitely throw you for a loop," said resident William Joyner.

"If there's a place you definitely want to get to, it's not going to stop you from getting to that place," said former resident Michelle Cowdrey.

Meanwhile, DiPaola says he's working with fellow business owners and city officials to make the best of an unfortunate situation.

"There is no way to achieve the things we want to achieve for each other, without each other," said DiPaola.

DiPaola says he hopes to get better, clearer markings for pedestrian walkways, signage along the road closed signs so people know the businesses there are open.

Construction is set to finish Jan. 31, but DiPaola says it will resume in May.