The section of St. Charles Avenue from the Garden District to the overpass is scheduled for a repaving project that will last until spring of 2018, and New Orleans officials are still working to determine the best configuration of the traffic lanes after the resurfacing is complete.
The $4.3 million repaving project — from Louisiana Avenue downtown to Calliope Street — began Jan. 9 and has a scheduled completion date of spring 2018, city officials told neighbors at a meeting Wednesday evening. The project will halt on Feb. 10, however, and workers will spend the next few days removing all equipment before the first Mardi Gras parades roll.
The project will include removing the top layer of asphalt from the road, repairing any damaged utility lines, replacing damaged sidewalks and driveway aprons, creating new accessible ramps at intersections, and repaving the road afterward.
“The reason for doing this is the poor condition of the asphalt surface,” said Alan Weber of the city’s Department of Public Works.
Workers from Boh Brothers will generally keep a single lane of traffic open on St. Charles Avenue throughout the process, though some temporary closures may be necessary, said Cheryn Robles of the Department of Public Works.
How the lanes will be configured when the project is complete remains under study, Robles said. The city’s transportation master plan calls for a “bikeway” on St. Charles Avenue, but previous traffic studies have found the vehicle count too high to support removing a traffic lane from St. Charles.
“The actual configuration hasn’t been determined yet,” Robles said.
The city is planning a new traffic study to update those numbers, but have had to time it carefully, Robles said. They can’t properly count traffic during holidays or special events like the All-Star weekend that represent unusual traffic loads on the street.
The project itself will proceed in six phases, starting with the nine blocks between Louisiana Avenue and Third Street, officials explained. Boh Brothers is actually starting with the second phase prior to Mardi Gras, but will switch back to the first phase when they return to work in March.
During Wednesday’s meeting at Christ Church Cathedral, neighbors asked why the city would even begin construction prior to Mardi Gras, if only to have to stop and remove the equipment for several weeks. The timing of the project, city officials replied, has to do with the requirements of the state money being used to pay for the project.
The repaving project is scheduled to continue farther Uptown on St. Charles Avenue next year, Robles said.