Aug 052016

LaToya Cantrell

After revelations that the most recent plans for Tulane Avenue reduce the amount of trees and lighting to be installed, City Councilwoman LaToya Cantrell says the problem stems from competing city and state regulations and pledged to find a resolution.

Cantrell’s full statement is below:

Many of our residents have recently raised legitimate concerns about the Tulane Avenue Corridor Project. When the plan was first introduced in 2011, it featured lush landscaping and ample lighting, which would have made the corridor safer and more inviting for not only residents, but also for shoppers and tourists. When Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LADOTD) recently presented an update of the plan to the Tulane-Canal Neighborhood Association, however, it did not include the additional landscaping or brighter LED lighting.

First, I want to assure my fellow District B neighbors that my office and I are committed to working with the Tulane stakeholders (residents and business owners), the Regional Planning Commission, the LADOTD, and the City to ensure that Tulane Avenue is beautifully landscaped and illuminated with the promised lighting.

Second, I want to assure our residents that this is a process issue and not a resource issue, which has been suggested. No money has been diverted from the project and funding is still in place for lighting and landscaping.

Let me explain.

When the project was first being planned, it was assumed that Tulane Avenue would be designated as a city street, because the State intended to shed some of its municipal routes—like Tulane Avenue—to local responsibility. The City’s standards for landscaping streets differ from the State’s standards, and allow for more trees.

Tulane did not become a city street as expected, so the State standards remain.

What that means is that we either meet those standards, or create an agreement with the State to waive them. I am going to do whatever I can to make sure we work with the state to create the beautiful streetscape that all of us want for Tulane.

Last month’s presentation from the LADOTD came as a surprise to all of us. I feel the community hasn’t been receiving enough timely information regarding the project’s progress, nor has it had an opportunity to weigh in and make valuable suggestions and comments. As of today, the Regional Planning Commission has committed to holding regular community updates until the project’s completion.

The Tulane Avenue Corridor Project should result in a grand avenue with more space for pedestrian and bicycle traffic, an inviting green environment and a much safer and brighter streetscape. Working together, we will make sure it does.

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