Sep 102012
 

A piece of plywood covers a hole in the cement at the corner of Freret and Jefferson. City officials are debating whether this “bumpout” installed during the streetscape project impedes traffic and should be removed, said leaders of The New Freret business association. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

City officials remain unsatisfied with the quality of the work done to the sidewalks at corners along the Freret corridor, but they have yet to decide what exactly they will fix or how long the repairs will take.

The project was intended to be a cosmetic makeover of the Freret corridor similar to the work done on Oak Street, installing large rounded sidewalk corners to make crossing the street easier for pedestrians, new landscaping and even promotional signage. Individual items were slowly stripped out of the project over time, the start date was delayed for months, and Monday night’s meeting marks the fifth in a row over a 15-month period in which the Freret merchants have expressed concerns about ongoing problems with the project.

Since well before its start, the businesses have felt shut out of input on the design of the improvements, the timing of the construction and even basic information such as a start datewere shocked by how long individual businesses were blocked as repairs to single corners dragged on for weeks, and three months ago began asking why corners were having to be rebuilt multiple times.

A brick lies in the handicap ramp at the corner of Freret and Valmont, one of the new “bumpouts” built as part of the corridor’s streetscape project. City officials say a number of repairs need to be made before they can accept the work as finished. (Robert Morris, UptownMessenger.com)

Now, most of the corners are have been filled in, but Department of Public Works director Col. Mark Jernigan told The New Freret business and property owners association on Monday evening that the project is still unfinished. City officials just recently walked the length of corridor and inspected each corner, compiling a large list of needed repairs, he said.

“There’s still some things at each of the corners that need to be done,” Jernigan says. “I’m still not happy with the quality of work that’s been done.”

Technically, the contract calls for the project to be complete by Sept. 19, but Jernigan expressed doubt that he would be able to close it out by then.

“We’ve got some more work to do before I feel comfortable enough where the city’s going to accept the project from the contractor,” Jernigan said. “We have some work to do, and we’ve got a longer list than we had three weeks ago.”

That list is still being prioritized, Jernigan said, so it has yet to be decided how long that work will take.

“The workmanship on my corner was really bad,” said Chip Apperson of High Hat Cafe, which was blocked for a full month around the busy Jazz Fest time. “If things start to crumble next year, who do I go to?”

The contract has a year-long warranty after it has closed, Jernigan replied — but he reiterated his pledge to ensure that each corner is properly finished before closing the contract out.

Monday night’s meeting also included short presentations from City Council candidates Dana Kaplan and LaToya Cantrell. See below for our live coverage of the meeting.

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  • Freret Resident

    In my opinion, the bumpouts do stick out too far into the street – it’s not wide enough when a bus or a large truck is oncoming, and cars entering Freret from side streets have to make extra-wide turns to clear the bumpouts, putting them in danger of collision. Many cars run over the bumpouts to avoid collision or because they misjudge the width – leading to blown tires, as well as the quickly-crumbling bricks seen in the pictures accompanying this article. The bumpouts have also reduced the amount of available parking on the street. Furthermore, the bumpouts don’t do much to make Freret more walkable – no one slows down for the crosswalks as they are not well-striped (or in most cases, there are no stripes whatsoever, as seen in the pictures above), and there is no signage. It would’ve been much cheaper to just re-stripe the crosswalks so cars can actually see them, and take it a step further by installing those “State Law – stop for pedestrians at crosswalks” signs, or adding flashing lights at pavement level.

  • dave

    it’s true: terrible craftsmanship. It took about ten workers and 3 months to do 1 corner on Valmont and Freret… and it’s broken already… what kind of shady contractors made this shiz

  • a local contractor

    This is what happens when an out of state contractor can’t get the job done correctly. Now the Freret street people are left with bad work

  • Nr

    Who is the contractor?

    • steven

      F.H. Paschen, S.N. Nielsen. They are doing the neutral ground improvements on S. Claiborne as well, so issues likely ahead there.

  • Tony Sneakers

    That is Concrete, not cement. Concrete is made from cement. It also consists of cementitious materials such as fly ash and slag cement, water, coarse aggregate and fine aggregate…

  • uptownjeff

    I agree about the bumpouts. They are terrible, and driving down Freret is a hassle because of them. Whoever’s in charge of this project did an awful job. I would be irate if I was a Freret business owner.

  • Joseph Dingineer

    These contractor clowns are the worst! Carrollton Ave is turning to poop because some HardRock clowns did such a crappy job. Freret will probably be worse. At least the work on Carrollton Ave held up for the first year. After 5 years, we will have the real picture. Please also check out and find out who the designers were and which engineering firm is pretending to do the inspection. Hold them accountable!!

    • Kellie

      Joseph,
      you are correct! the bottom line is there was an architect and engineer signing off on the project- as far as I am concerned they have some issues they need to resolve. the engineer was out of baton rouge and the architect never actually did a site visit….looks good on paper but not a reality.
      Kellie

  • Donna m Laspesa

    I was visiting from Chicago 2 weeks ago and enjoyed all the new businesses on Freret. But the way that the new bumpouts are constructed caused me to trip over the step down onto the handicap access several times. In every other city I’ve ever been in these are constructed at a gradual slope, not an abrupt step down -dangerous!! Not to mention the bumpouts come very far out making it difficult to navigate a turn without hitting the curb. Carpetbaggers got the best out New Orleans with this contract, and they’re going to take their $$$ and run!