RTA project to shut down crucial NOLA traffic artery

The expansion of the Canal Street Streetcar Line to Canal Boulevard will shut down a busy mid-city intersection for four months, but the benefits should be huge for people taking public transportation.

NEW ORLEANS  -- Starting next month, an RTA construction project is planned to close down the spot where Canal Street and Canal Boulevard meet at City Park Avenue. 

It's part of plans by the Regional Transportation Authority to extend its street car line across City Park Avenue and to improve the existing transit hub, but drivers will feel the growing pains for the next four months.

As July 31 approaches, business managers and residents in the surrounding area are starting to get nervous about the impact.

"Once this project is done, all of this will be greatly improved for our riders," said Patrice Bell-Mercadel, RTA Communications Director.

But the plan has been controversial from the start. Residents are turning out at public hearings concerned over the cost and the space the new terminal will take.

RTA says the new designs take in consideration those concerns.  No green space will be taken away, while street synchronization could help everyone.

According to RTA, Navarre, Marconi, Orleans, and N. Carrollton Avenue will all be potential detours to get around.  However, what doesn't help is, the Wisner Bridge near Desaix and City Park is still shut down to construction. 

"If you can't go one way there's always another way," said Cecilia Hock, a long time Navarre resident. 

She isn't worried about getting through the detours as much as she is about impatient drivers.  She's hoping the project wraps up in November as planned. 

"(RTA) really means 6 to 8 (months)," she said laughing. 

But why did RTA wait until late summer and the busy back to school season to get started?  The answer, Bell-Mercadel tells us, is in the rails. 

"The rail is being delivered, and so we're starting the project, and we're going to get in and out of this corridor," Bell-Mercadel said. "We're very committed."

She added that the RTA is still working with businesses and residents to spread the word, but the project should wrap up right on time, barring any natural disasters.

© 2017 WWL-TV


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