By Sharon Lurye, Uptown Messenger
Mid-City residents can expect to see major changes coming down the road as a $24.4 million roadwork project begins in one week.
As outlined in a public presentation held virtually on Tuesday night, the project will start in early March and last at least until the fall of 2022.
Planned improvements will include repaving and patching roadways, repairing damaged sidewalks, installing sidewalk curb ramps for people with disabilities, and repairing or replacing waterlines.
The area covered, labeled as Mid-City Group B, will stretch east to west from Broad Street to City Park Avenue and north to south from Orleans Avenue to the Interstate 10. The city has hired Infinity Engineering Consultants as designers and Hard Rock Construction for the roadwork (no relation to the ill-fated Hard Rock Hotel downtown).
This is not the only major roadwork happening in the city, or even just in Mid-City. New Orleans is spending over $2.2 billion over eight years on sewage and road improvements across the city, much of it funded by FEMA.
“There are more than 200 individual projects, so every neighborhood around the city should feel a positive impact,” said Ainsley Fischer, project manager at the Department of Public Works, at the virtual meeting. “All of these programs combined will create thousands of construction jobs,” she added.
But while residents will welcome better roads, they will also have to be patient with some inconveniences for the next year and a half — such as noise, dust, excavated roads and limited parking.
Kim Turner, a community outreach specialist with Roadwork NOLA, promised there will be no construction equipment on green areas where people tend to congregate, such as the neutral ground.
“We will not stage any equipment or materials on green space,” she said.
Turner also said that in most cases residents will be notified if there are any changes to mail, garbage or recycling services. She urged people to e-mail her at email@example.com or call 504-658-ROAD if they notice any unexpected disruptions to these services, or for any other questions.
“There are times that the project team is not aware that sanitation is unable to get down your street, so please, please, please feel free to contact me,” she said.
The presenters also said that there will be “minimal” disruptions to water service, and that notification will be sent to residents two days in advance if roadwork is expected to impact these services.
Chris Blum, president of the Mid-City Neighborhood Organization, noted that there were still a few unfinished sites in the Mid-City Group A roadwork project, which began in July 2019 and was originally scheduled for completion this fall.
He asked if there was a timetable for completing those sites, noting in particular that there was some unfinished paving work at the 4000 block of Ulloa Street.
“With that being a bus route, that’s a pretty high priority to get that working,” Blum said. “That’s a large, heavy vehicle hitting multiple self-inflicted road hazards.”
Fischer said that “we should have paving done relatively shortly” on Ulloa. She said she would double check with the contractor at this week’s progress meeting to get a more exact estimate of when that road would be repaved.
As for other sites in Group A, “we’re looking to have those roadways repaved by the end of March as we’re rolling over into Group B,” said Nakeila Polk, another community outreach specialist.
Blum also asked about progress on an excavated corner at Cleveland Avenue and Norman Francis Parkway.
Fischer said that would also be completed “shortly,” and said that workers needed to repair a drain line that had collapsed underneath the site.
“We need to make sure that we are completing the repairs correctly and not just paving over something that’s broken,” she said.
Reporter Sharon Lurye can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.