Drainage construction to affect viewing at Fat Tuesday parades

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wwltv.com

Posted on January 22, 2013 at 7:23 PM

Updated Tuesday, Jan 22 at 7:41 PM

Paul Murphy / Eyewitness News
Email: pmurphy@wwltv.com | Twitter: @pmurphywwl

NEW ORLEANS -- Drainage construction along Napoleon Avenue in New Orleans may affect where you watch the parades on Fat Tuesday.

The sounds of pile driving and heavy equipment fill the air on Napoleon between Claiborne and St. Charles.

It's not exactly the festive music Carnival revelers are used to hearing as Rex and the Krewes of Elk and Crescent City march down the street.

"I've been here 25 plus years, loved going out with the kids, grandkids now," said Zora Wainwright who lives just blocks off the parade route. "Just a lot of casual nice family fun in this area that I've experienced."

Wainwright was disappointed to hear this year much of the area known for family fun on Mardi Gras morning will be off limits.

The Army Corps of Engineers is digging up the Napoleon neutral grounds to install a new underground drainage canal.

The corps is suspending the work for long Mardi Gras weekend, but Napoleon will remain a large construction zone until the work is completed.

"We'll be shutting down the Napoleon Avenue construction, noon on Friday prior to Mardi Gras and the construction will be shut down until Wednesday morning following Fat Tuesday," said Lori Wingate, an Army Corps of Engineers project manager. "The equipment will be secured either behind the fencing or off of the project sites. We will have safety fences around any equipment that is out there presently."

King Logan from the Rex organization said it would be more disruptive to start the parade on the river side of Napoleon this year.

"In terms of people's traditional Rex parade and Mardi Gras truck parade, viewing would probably far more significant if we relocated the route entirely," said Logan. "We know it's going to be an inconvenience. We regret it. But, certainly in the long-range fortunes of the city it's important work that needs to be done."

While the construction on Napoleon may be a temporary inconvenience for some parade goers, according to the Army Corps of Engineers, what they'll get in return is permanent drainage improvements in their neighborhood.

"Their water will be off the streets faster and once our project is complete, the roadway will be repaved, so that the added, extra bonus on top of the improved drainage," said Wingate.

"It will be very nice if it works and the drainage is corrected," said Wainwright. "That would be great."

Despite the disruption, Logan says as always, Rex will deliver. This year's theme is "All Creatures Great and Small."

"From lions and tigers, to even mosquitoes and you can also look for some very special throws off of each float this year," said Logan.

The first four blocks of neutral grounds on the lake side of Napoleon are good to go, but it's a dirt surface instead of grass.

The Army Corps of Engineers says it will put down some hay or straw if that dirt turns to mud.

 

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