Monica Hernandez / Eyewitness News
NEW ORLEANS - Cynthia Barrow makes the long walk down Forstall Street in the Lower 9th Ward just about every other day to catch the bus. But with her cane, it's never easy.
"I'm handicapped myself, but I'm headstrong," said Barrow. "I'm going to go forward."
Because of the bumpy, narrow sidewalks and lack of handicapped accessible ramps, Barrow, like others, is often forced to travel in the road. But that will soon change.
A $90 million project from the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development called Paths to Progress is aimed at resurfacing streets, repaving sidewalks and building and accessible ramps for those with disabilities.
The project will span 60 thoroughfares throughout Jefferson and Orleans Parish.
Forstall Street will be one of the first to see construction, which is set to begin this month. Improvements will run from Claiborne Avenue to the river, and are scheduled to be complete in the fall.
"Just about everyone I see in wheelchairs they're riding in the streets because they can't ride on the sidewalks, so it's needed. Really needed," said Barrow.
But even Barrow said, while she will appreciate the improvements, aside from making sidewalks ADA-compliant, other roadways are in greater need of repair.
"When you go to side streets where people are living, it's terrible, you can really mess up your car a lot," said Barrow. "[Forstall Street] is in pretty decent shape."
On it's website, the DOTD said roads were chosen "based on the post Katrina and Rita visual and structural testing and evaluation analysis... Roadways selected were required to be a part of the Federal Aid route."
Paths to Progress isn't the only street improvement project either underway or set to begin in the Lower 9th Ward.
Construction equipment sits on Caffin Avenue. Dr. Angelique White Williams said it's a welcome sight. She's a member of Hartzell United Methodist Church across the street.
"I'm glad the Lower Ninth Ward is getting the attention," said Williams." I think it's a very good thing."
The project is aimed at improving drainage and repaving streets along the thoroughfare.
"Sometimes when it rains you would have people who refuse to go down Caffin Avenue," said Williams.
Along North Claiborne and St. Claude Avenues in the Lower 9th, crews are building walkways and landscaping the neutral ground.
But there's still a long way to go. On Flood Street, a massive pot hole Saturday forced cars to avoid the block altogether. Meanwhile, officials said improvements are in the works for Galvez from the Industrial Canal to the parish line.
"There's a dire need for it, because of all the conditions of the street, you're constantly getting flat tires," said Burnell Cotlon, a longtime resident of the Lower 9th Ward, of all the street repairs.
The city secured $68 million in FEMA funding for new street repairs earlier this year. Councilman Jon Johnson plans to meet with city officials Monday to work on a construction schedule for the street improvement projects.