Driving and parking in the French Quarter will get more difficult after July 4, when several streets are scheduled to be repaved. Burgundy, Dauphine, Royal, North Peters, St. Louis and Toulouse streets, as well as Esplanade Avenue, will be resurfaced over the next six months. Curb repair and new street tiles will be laid and corner sidewalks cut to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
The biggest street repair program in the Quarter since the 1984 World's Fair is part of the federal "Paths to Progress" program, funded by the Federal Highway Administration and the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development. The project, which will be completed in two phases, will be carried out by Plus Concrete Inc. for $11.1 million.
At a June 26 community meeting at the Old U.S. Mint, French Quarter residents and merchants had plenty of questions for project officials, which included District C City Councilwoman Kristin Gisleson Palmer and Director of Public Works Mark Jernigan. Work is scheduled to be done in one- to three-block increments between the hours of 8 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., with parking reopened in the evenings.
Despite requests from homeowners, Jernigan said the city would not suspend its current Tuesday and Thursday street-cleaning and towing in the Quarter to provide parking relief. "We need to make sure the streets remain clean," Jernigan said. As to why those streets and not others had been chosen, Palmer said they were federal aid routes and therefore the only ones eligible for federal monies.
Confusion arose over whether sidewalks would be part of the repair. That part of the project would have to be funded by the city and the Regional Planning Commission.
Jernigan told the crowd that the original plan to fix the sidewalks was scuttled after the proposed Hospitality Zone taxing district was shelved in May — drawing boos and groans from the crowd. But Palmer, who arrived late to the meeting, said it was her understanding with Deputy Mayor Andy Kopplin that funding for sidewalk repair had been found. (Mayor Mitch Landrieu's office did not respond to Gambit's request for clarification.)
Street repairs will be suspended during two big tourism weekends — Satchmo SummerFest in August and Southern Decadence/Labor Day in September. The project is scheduled to be completed by Dec. 14. For more information, call the project hotline at 800-574-7193 or visit the website at www.pavingLAroads.com.