Cyclists who use the bike path on the Mississippi River levee Uptown will have to find a detour starting Monday, June 29, as the bike path between Walnut and Fern streets will be closed until Aug. 20 to allow Entergy New Orleans to upgrade its electric power transmission system. The same section of the bike path will close again from Sept. 10 to Sept. 20 to finish that section of the $30 million project.
The upgrade includes replacing existing 230 kilovolt transmission lines with more advanced high-voltage wires in order to increase their capacity for providing electric power as well making the system more reliable and efficient, according to Entergy New Orleans President and CEO Charles Rice.
“To meet customers’ growing energy needs, a transmission system upgrade of this magnitude is required to move more power with greater efficiency,” he said in a news release.
“Progress is often inconvenient. We understand there is some fatigue in New Orleans regarding public infrastructure projects. … We are confident that the end product will be a technologically superior, reliable and advanced electric power transmission system that will help support and grow the region’s economy.” The fatigue he mentioned is in reference to traffic congestion caused by infrastructure projects that have closed lanes on St. Charles, Claiborne, Louisiana and Napoleon avenues.
The first closure deals with transmission lines from the Ninemile-Napoleon substation and will affect the area around Audubon Park and sections of Magazine and Annunciation streets. A second phase, which starts in October, will replace lines from the Ninemile-Derbigny substation and will take place in the Carrollton-Hollygrove area.
Entergy initiated the upgrades to prepare for deactivating the power-generating facility at Michoud, which has operated since the 1960s. It is scheduled for closure next year, but Entergy officials say the company is looking at Michoud as a possible site for a new power generating plant. The upgrades will be made on lines carried by large steel transmission poles (as opposed to wooden poles).
The project includes changing out nine segments of transmission lines, all in the same area, says Entergy New Orleans Communications Manager Yolanda Pollard. “For the purpose of the bike path itself … it will be July through October in the Uptown area.” Areas undergoing upgrades will experience street closures, no parking zones and restrictions on pedestrian and bicycle traffic, she says.
In an unrelated project, the river side of North Rampart Street will be closed to vehicular traffic for approximately three weeks (starting this week) between Ursulines and Gov. Nicholls streets as crews prepare the road bed for laying tracks for the North Rampart Street/St. Claude Avenue streetcar project. A single lane will carry traffic in both directions during the closure.