NEW ORLEANS - The sound of jackhammers is not music to the ears of people who live and work along Harrison Avenue in the Lakeview neighborhood.
Crews just completed an expensive streetscape project there. It closed parts of the busy commercial corridor for about a year. Now contractors are back, blocking off lanes of traffic and redoing the fancy new brick crosswalks.
Neighbors like Maria Dazet say the situation is very frustrating. "I'm wondering why it took a whole year for them to put these bricks down and now they're pulling every single brick up," said Dazet. "What the heck is going on?"
A city spokesman says it appears the contractor did not install the brick crosswalks properly. He says the joint spacing and alignment of the bricks did not meet the Department of Public Works specifications.
Many of the bricks are cracked or broken. Lisa Stauder who runs a Harrison Avenue burger business says the bricks never looked quite right.
"There was no type of mortar or anything to cement it down," said Stauder. "It was just sand put down. With us being below sea level and the rain that we get, one good flood and I can see bricks floating down the street."
Lakeview shopper Cathy Daigle says local businesses will once again bear the brunt of the traffic delays on Harrison. "It was very inconvenient and very expensive for all of the businesses along here," said Daigle. "They took a big hit because people just didn't bother. They went out to Metairie. They didn't bother to do their shopping here."
The work renews public debate over whether the Harrison streetscape project was needed in the first place. "All this money was spent and there's so many other streets that need to be fixed that are in horrible condition," said Dazet.
The work is covered by the project warranty and the bricks are being replaced and/or reset by the contractor Durr Heavy Construction at no cost to the city. The repair job is expected to take about three weeks to complete. Durr did not return calls for comment.