NEW ORLEANS -- It's billed as one of the largest infrastructure investments in the French Quarter in nearly 30 years. State and city leaders kicked off a more than $11 million project on Thursday, to repair ten street segments in the Quarter, including Burgundy, Dauphine, Esplanade, Toulouse and St. Louis Streets, among others.
"We haven't had this kind of infrastructure investment in the French Quarter since the World's Fair [in 1984]," said City Council Member Kristin Gisleson Palmer, whose district includes the Quarter. "So, that, in and of itself, can speak to the need that we have down here."
With nearly nine million visitors a year, both the French Quarter and the City are preparing for an even larger influx of people during next year's Super Bowl.
"With all the events going on in New Orleans, we're trying to enhance and improve the areas for citizens and the tourists that'll be coming to the city," said Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development Secretary Sherri LeBas.
The French Quarter repairs begin on Monday and come on the heels of other street improvements, which are set to begin in the Ninth Ward and New Orleans East. It's part of a $90 million program called "Paths to Progress," which combines federal, state and local money. Those funds will be spent on more than 60 road segments in both New Orleans and parts of Jefferson Parish during the next two years.
While the work is welcomed by some in the French Quarter, concerns remain about how to deal with the construction through December.
"We're ready to get started," said Carol Allen, president of the Vieux Carre Property Owner, Residents and Associates (VCPORA). "Of course, parking is going to be a nightmare and we understand getting in and out of your own homes or businesses is going to be difficult. I think people are ready to go with this, but I think people have a lot of concerns. It would be great if those are heard, to try and make this easier for everybody."
For a list of all of the streets in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes that will be repaired under the "Paths to Progress" program, click here http://www.pavinglaroads.com/schedules/