Freret Street repair projects behind schedule

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wwltv.com

Posted on June 17, 2011 at 6:25 PM

Updated Friday, Jun 17 at 10:14 PM

Katie Moore / Eyewitness News

NEW ORLEANS - Mayor Mitch Landrieu included a number of city streetscape projects in his recent list of 100 projects that are fully funded and ready to go, but those streetscape projects are already behind schedule before most have even started.

That includes the one on Freret St.

Some business owners on the up-and-coming Uptown thoroughfare are concerned that planned construction will put them right back to square one.

Duston Lorio is one of them, managing a juice bar in the middle of the development on Freret.

“Freret is kind of like a shortcut, an Uptown shortcut,” he said.

In the past, he said it took bold signs to get people to stop in.

“The project, from what I've heard is slated for 180 days, which is a really long time. That's six months,” he said.

Last year Mayor Landrieu announced the Freret streetscape would start in April of this year. It's mid-June and there's still no sign of new sidewalks.

The Freret St. business boom is still in its infancy. On one hand, some say, why hasn't construction started yet? Yet on the other, some say it's too soon.

Adam Diderman is opening up a cheeseburger restaurant in the same area where the city streetscape project could begin in a few weeks. The $500,000 construction project will stretch from Napoleon to Jefferson Ave.

“It is unfortunate timing. But what's a couple months for the next ten, fifteen, twenty years,” said Diderman.

The most controversial part may be that the streetscape project is planned to make Freret St. look a lot like Oak St. City officials say it will have bump outs on the corners that don't have bus stops, making Freret more narrow in spots and reconfiguring parking. That is something some business owners say will make access more difficult.

The city has modified the plan to try and meet the neighbors needs, but construction is still scheduled to start in July.

Deputy mayor Cedric Grant says a number of issues have delayed the streetscape projects, including problems with bids going over budget.

Freret St. is also on the state's list for repaving. It's included in the second phase of Magazine Street-type repairs. But that phase of the project is delayed indefinitely because it is currently not funded.

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This story was developed in partnership with the Uptown Messenger. Read more about stories Uptown by clicking here.

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