NEW ORLEANS - With multiple construction projects underway, traffic can already be a nightmare in parts of Uptown.
Now, it could become even more of a mess, with lengthy lane closures set for major intersections.
Construction on Jefferson Avenue has been giving drivers headaches for months, prompting some to avoid the street altogether.
“You can't pass on Jefferson at all, even where they allow you to,” said Uptown resident Patrick Kelly. “The road has been torn up real bad.”
It's all part of a massive drainage canal being built Uptown as part of an Army Corps of Engineers flood control project, and the construction is about to expand.
“It's horrible. It's going to last awhile, but we're good,” said Julieann Wegmann, whose home falls next to the construction zone. Wegmann emphasizes that crews have been as accommodating as possible.
Starting June 2, crews will begin building a box culvert beneath the St. Charles streetcar tracks at Jefferson, Napoleon and Louisiana avenues, which could cause traffic headaches. Crews will work on each of those main Uptown intersections at the same time.
“It's going to be a pain, we have to drive on Napoleon now,” said Uptown resident Justin Wolfe. “We have to put up with it so we get a system that’s functioning.”
The three intersections will have important lane closures during construction.
The Army Corps of Engineers says there will be only Northbound traffic on Jefferson Avenue at St. Charles Avenue.
On St. Charles Avenue, two-way traffic will shift to either side of the tracks, depending on construction.
Napoleon and St. Charles will each be down to one lane at that intersection.
And St. Charles Avenue will be down to one lane at Louisiana Avenue, with temporary two way lanes on Louisiana shifting around construction.
It's all slated to last through Aug. 30.
“Three months of frustration,” said Kelley.
“I'm not looking forward to it, but you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do,” said Wegmann. “The city has to improve, and we can either complain about it or we can try to deal with it.”
Part of the reason construction is set for the summer is because that's when streetcar ridership usually slows. And the streetcar will be unable to run between Louisiana and Jefferson avenues during construction.
“The current plan is that we will do ‘bus bridges’ for that St. Charles Avenue interruption,” said RTA spokeswoman Patrice Mercadel.
The RTA is already running buses to pick up streetcar riders while it does maintenance on parts of the track. That work is scheduled to be complete in April, before the drainage project crosses the tracks.