Major roadwork on the first eight blocks of Bourbon Street will start Monday under a revised schedule that will see two blocks at a time shut down through the rest of the year, but with breaks for major festivals.
Workers will replace many of the pipes and utility lines that lie under the street, completely repave the roadway and fix the sidewalk. City officials said the work is necessary because of the poor condition of the pavement and multiple problems with the underground lines.
At the same time, crews will also be doing work on streets and sidewalks in other parts of the French Quarter.
Public Works Director Mark Jernigan, addressing a meeting of French Quarter residents and business owners Tuesday night, said the project is a challenging one but that the city hopes to complete it on a tight schedule that will take into account festivals that draw unusually large crowds to the city’s most famous tourist strip.
“Our goal is to get half of Bourbon Street completely done by Labor Day and the rest by the end of the year,” Jernigan said.
The updated schedule for the $6 million project will see work leapfrog down the street. Each segment is expected to take about 60 days.
Crews will work on the 100 and 300 blocks starting on Monday, taking a break at the end of that work to accommodate the Essence Festival.
After that, crews will work on the 200 and 400 blocks before pausing for Labor Day and the Southern Decadence festival.
The first eight blocks of Bourbon Street will be torn up and completely rebuilt in a major r…
Work will then move to the 500 and 700 blocks before stopping for Voodoo Fest.
The last segments, the 600 and 800 blocks, will be done at the end of the year, with a break for Thanksgiving weekend and the Bayou Classic.
That’s a change from the original schedule, which would have seen the work begin at either end of the eight-block stretch and move steadily toward the center.
Crews will work from about 8 a.m. to sunset Monday through Saturday.
The plan drew some grumbles from those who live and work in the area, who worry that it will interfere with their businesses and worsen parking issues. Some called for financial assistance to businesses that would be affected, but city officials said that is not in the plan.
While some business owners at the meeting suggested a Sunday to Friday schedule, to ensure construction isn’t happening when tourists are out in big numbers on Saturdays, Jernigan said that would not be possible because many of the companies that deliver materials needed for the project are not open on Sunday.
While each block is under construction, chain link fences will be erected to keep people out of the roadway. Sidewalks will remain open, with boards placed over areas of the sidewalk that need to be dug up; the boards will allow access to the businesses nearby.
Because of the closures, trash will have to be hauled to "corrals" at the end of each block for pickup, and deliveries will be limited to the early morning and evening hours.
During the work, crews will replace and upgrade drainage lines and water lines, repair the sewerage lines and work with Entergy crews to repair and upgrade gas pipes and electrical conduits before resurfacing the roadway with 8 inches of concrete, Jernigan said.
It will be the first time a full street reconstruction has been carried out on Bourbon since 1928, when many of the existing pipes were first installed, he said.
The repairs are needed to make sure the drainage infrastructure is up to current standards — which call for it to be able to handle storms that have a 10 percent chance of occurring in any given year — and to make sure there is enough pressure in the water lines for hydrants on the street, city Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness Director Aaron Miller said.
Elsewhere in the French Quarter, other crews will be repaving and making repairs to gutters on St. Ann, St. Peter, Madison, Chartres and Conti streets and patching and repairing intersections on Iberville Street.
Sidewalk repairs will also be made on Royal, Decatur, Ursuline and Gov. Nicholls streets and along the perimeter of Jackson Square.
The Bourbon Street reconstruction comes as the city is also studying plans to permanently close parts of Bourbon to vehicular traffic, turning it into a pedestrian mall with bollards blocking access to the roadway.
That proposal, part of a citywide security plan, is aimed at preventing terrorist attacks such as the one in Nice, France, where a terrorist drove a truck into a crowd of people celebrating Bastille Day.
The Landrieu administration's proposal to bar vehicles from most of Bourbon Street faced nea…
The pedestrian mall plan has been more controversial than the discussions about rebuilding the street, with many business owners worrying about deliveries and residents raising concerns about how it would affect their ability to get around in the Quarter.