The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority is preparing to shut down the busy intersection at Canal Street and City Park Avenue for four months while it extends the Canal streetcar line by about a block.
The closure is scheduled to start July 31.
Officials acknowledge the project will cause some big traffic headaches, but they say the closure is necessary to complete the job more quickly and at lower cost.
The Cemeteries Transit Center project of the RTA and the Federal Transit Administration will replace the existing streetcar stop on the south side of City Park Avenue with a streetcar and bus transfer terminal just north of City Park Avenue.
At present, riders getting off the Canal streetcar need to walk across Canal’s dogleg intersection with City Park Avenue to get to bus stops on Canal Boulevard.
After the project is completed, the streetcars will continue across City Park Avenue to a new terminus featuring new bus and streetcar shelters connected by a covered walkway.
The RTA says improved traffic signals and crossings will make the terminus safer for both pedestrians and vehicles.
In the meantime, however, the closure is going to affect traffic on Canal Street, Canal Boulevard, City Park Avenue and Metairie Road through the project's completion, which is slated for Nov. 27.
The RTA said in a presentation prepared for public meetings last week that reducing the streets to one lane and allowing traffic to continue to flow through the intersection would increase the duration of the work to 18 months, cost more and jeopardize the $9.8 million in federal funding that's going into the project.
The existing plan will cause some pain for motorists and public transit riders but will get the work done sooner, the agency said. It said the four-month timetable is acceptable to the Federal Transit Authority.
The final cost of the project, which will be built by Boh Bros. Construction Co., is unknown, though the RTA has indicated it will fund whatever is not covered by the federal grant.
The construction will create detours for several RTA lines, including the 47-Canal/Cemeteries streetcar and the 27-Louisiana, 45-Lakeview, 60-Hayne and 91-Jackson/Esplanade bus lines.
Two Jefferson Transit lines, the E-1 and E-4, will be affected.
After a quarter-century of planning, fundraising and debating, the wait is over.
The Canal streetcar line, which also branches out North Carrollton Avenue to Esplanade Avenue, was completed in 2004, but the planned extension across City Park Avenue has been through several versions over the years. At one point it called for a large transfer station, but those plans met with opposition and have been scaled back.
Local store owners expressed concern about the project’s impact on their businesses at a public hearing last month.
The work comes at the tail end of another major project that has disrupted the flow of traffic on the other side of City Park, the oft-delayed reconstruction of the Wisner Avenue overpass.
The state Department of Transportation and Development says that project, which began in 2015, is slated for completion in September.
The RTA has set up a hotline for questions about the Canal Street project at (504) 620-0036.