NEW ORLEANS – The $10 million project to make sweeping changes to Tulane Avenue has been delayed and businesses along the roadway are concerned that the increase in traffic and the difficulty in getting around are doing damage to their business.
Justin Pitard owns Avery’s on Tulane Avenue. The eatery opened five years ago. It has seen a sharp drop in sales since construction began in 2015.
“Roughly a 30 percent decline,” Pitard said. “This slow October so far is roughly a 50 percent decline.”
The project was supposed to be finished by August 31, but construction continued past that date. Pitard now says they are hearing that the work may continue until the end of the year.
“I would be happy if they just paved the road,” said Patrick Brown, the co-owner of 504 Craft Beer Reserve. “They made a tremendous amount of progress when they first started with the curbing. But once that finished it has just kind of sat there. We really haven't seen much."
Walter Brooks, the director of the Regional Planning Commission, told the Mid-City Messenger that the delay was due to “issues encountered in the field.” Tulane Avenue is part of a U.S. Highway and must meet federal standards. The project is now estimated to be completed before the end of the year.
Until that time comes, Pitard and other business owners hope they can survive to later thrive on a new and improved Tulane Avenue.
"These are all mom and pop places and we need your help,” he said. “It's been a struggle. It's been about long enough and we've paid our dues so come eat."
Improvements to the corridor are supposed to include landscaping. The Regional Planning Commission said they are working to build a consensus between the city and the state before moving ahead.