The Napoleon Avenue neutral ground between Claiborne Avenue and Magnolia Street is in the process of getting a face lift, one designed with both beauty and floodwaters in mind. The new trees and walkway may look like simple landscaping to a passerby, but is actually what the Army Corp of Engineers calls “green space restoration,” a technique that has been shown to reduce flooding. The restoration is part of the Army Corp of Engineer’s Southeast Louisiana Flood Control Project, a $2 billion set of infrastructure improvements meant to reduce the risk of flooding in the event of heavy rain. This is the same project that oversaw the installation of a canal under Napoleon Avenue, the construction that disrupted Carnival celebrations for many in New Orleans. A portion of this neutral ground lies on the parade route and is prime space to set up camp for parade viewing.
Each of the Lundi Gras parades this year did what they do best: The Krewe of Tucks served up raunchy, high-concept satire; the Krewe of Proteus evoked the grandeur of aquatic mythologies; and the Krewe of Orpheus produced its immensely popular spectacle of light and music. Tucks, rescheduled after Saturday’s rainout, rolled with the ironic theme of “Tucks Gets Culture,” meshing an Art History 101 course with lowbrow jokes and biting commentary. Proteus followed with a theme of “Mythologica Aquatica,” celebrating watery legends from the world over. Finally, Orpheus offered adoring crowds celebrities like Poison frontman Bret Michaels, singer Cyndi Lauper and actresses Hillary Swank and Mariska Hargitay as well as the “Nonsense and Tomfoolery” theme. To see reaction and photos from parade-goers, see our live coverage from Twitter using the hashtags #Tucks, #Proteus and #Orpheus.
Most of the intersection of Magazine Street and Napoleon Avenue will be closed Thursday so a sewer line can be moved, officials announced. The 4300 block of Magazine, which is the downtown block from Napoleon, will be closed to traffic in both directions from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m. while the Sewerage & Water Board works, according to an announcement through the city email system. One northbound lane of Napoleon will be closed as well, the announcement states. City buses will be detoured around the closed section, the announcement says.
Massive drainage projects slated to begin in six months should alleviate some of the Uptown’s flooding woes, and new construction technology should make the work on Jefferson, Napoleon, Louisiana and South Claiborne avenues less damaging to surrounding homes than previous projects, engineers and officials said Tuesday evening. Each of the four Uptown projects — on Louisiana, Napoleon and Jefferson from Claiborne to Constance Street, and on the uppermost portion of Claiborne from Lowerline to Jefferson Parish — will involve a new, larger box culvert underneath the neutral ground alongside the existing underground drainage canal, said Ron Spooner, a New Orleans Sewerage and Water Board administrator. Napoleon will begin first, in April, followed by South Claiborne in May, Jefferson in January 2012 and Louisiana later that year, Spooner said. Promised by Congress since devastating rains caused $1 billion in flood damage in the New Orleans area in 1995, the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Program has already completed major drainage improvements in Hollygrove, Broadmoor and along a central portion of South Claiborne Avenue. Each of the new projects will last years, but once complete, they will reduce rainfall accumulation for Uptown homes by anywhere from 4 to 16 inches, depending on the exact location in the neighborhood, Spooner said at a preliminary meeting Tuesday night at Loyola University to begin addressing residents’ concerns.