NEW ORLEANS -- A strong north wind from the latest cold front sent waves crashing over the seawall along Lakeshore Drive.
It happens every winter, and the soil behind the seawall is badly eroded by the waves. The clean-up can cost the Orleans Levee District over $100,000 a year.
"The waves overtop the top of the seawall and takes the mud that's right behind it and throws it out into Lakeshore Drive, and we have to close Lakeshore Drive," said Orleans Levee District's Gerry Gillen.
A year after the groundbreaking, crews are close to completing a $6 million project to stop the erosion and give the lakefront a new look.
Between the Lighthouse and Mardi Gras Fountain, a concrete cap is keeping waves from washing the soil away.
"Just the little bit of progress to date, some of these northerners, it's really protected a lot," said Gillen.
But the concrete surface creates a new walking path for lakefront visitors, complete with new benches and wheelchair access.
"Oh, it's gonna look terrific," said Gillen. "We do have some landscaping and decorative security lighting that's going out there. This is the second most visited tourist area other than the French Quarter."
This week pre-construction work is starting on the second phase, the badly scoured area at Franklin Avenue.
Jerry Gillen said the first stretch should be completed in about a month and the second phase in about 10 months.
But over the next five years, the plan is to have the entire stretch of the lakefront redone. That's five and a half miles.
"A nice walking path, lighted for the public to use, and just again, make this a real tourist attraction for the city," said Gillen.