no.bourbonclosure.051418

A sewer pipe improperly connected to a drainage line under Bourbon Street backed up into the bathroom of the True Religion clothing store in the Astor Crowne Plaza Hotel on Canal Street, revealing a problem missed during the months that crews were rebuilding the roadway and the pipes beneath it.

The oversight means contractors will, once again, have to tear up a portion of the first block of Bourbon, just months after that part of a project plagued by delays and cost overruns was thought to have been completed.

The work began Tuesday morning and will require crews to remove one of the concrete panels that make up the roadway, as well as a 10-foot section of the sidewalk on the river side of the street, said LaTonya Norton, press secretary for Mayor LaToya Cantrell.

It is expected to take about a week to tie the line into the correct pipe and replace the roadway, she said.

The sewer pipe had been tied into the drainage system "long ago when the bathroom was installed," Norton said.

The discovery of pipes that didn't show up in official records and were improperly connected to other lines in a haphazard manner was among the problems that caused delays with the street reconstruction project.

Contractors had tried to fix those errors as they worked on the project. However, this particular pipe was missed because "there was no flow coming from the line at the time of construction likely due to the fact that it services a single bathroom" and crews thought it had been abandoned, Norton said.

The Bourbon Street reconstruction — undertaken by Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration — was designed, in part, to fix and upgrade the pipes under the city's most famous entertainment street. It was the first time a full reconstruction of the street had been done in almost a century.

But as they worked, crews found far more problems than expected, including pipes like the one coming from True Religion that were tied into the wrong systems.

The need to sort out those issues plus rain delays resulted in a far lengthier and more expensive project than officials initially anticipated.

The first phase of the work, covering the 100 through 400 blocks of Bourbon, was expected to cost $6 million and last from April to June of last year. Instead, it wound up with a $10.3 million price tag and didn't wrap up until January.

This week's repair job is expected to cost about $25,000, Norton said. The city and the Sewerage & Water Board will be on the hook for the cost, since they were the ones telling the contractor which pipes needed to be fixed during the initial construction, she said.

The city expects to seek bids in coming weeks for the second phase of the project, which will involve completely rebuilding the next four blocks of Bourbon and the pipes beneath them. 

To prevent a similar problem with the next phase of the project, any pipes that do not appear in the S&WB's records will be inspected to determine whether they're active, Norton said. 

Follow Jeff Adelson on Twitter, @jadelson.​