Drivers stunned, buinesses angry at five-month Freret St. closure

Bill Capo talks about the SELA project, which is causing traffic and frustration for drivers.

NEW ORLEANS – Drivers are frustrated about a major Uptown intersection being closed to traffic  – again.

The Corps of Engineers closed Freret Street in both directions at Jefferson Avenue Thursday, Sept. 8. A closure they say will last at least five months.

Drivers were stunned, saying they had no idea the closure was coming.

"For five months they're shutting down Freret right here at Jefferson?" said a driver named Rick. "It strikes me that no one quite knew what they were doing when they started this project, and they're making it up as they go along."

The closure will be so contractors can install a large drainage culvert underground according to the Sewerage and Water Board.

"It's nice that they're working on the roads," another driver said. "But it seems like it's taking a lot longer than it needs to."

At Freret Hardware, owner Ricky Torres is furious, though he tried to be diplomatic.

"It's brutal, it's killing business," Torres said.

Across the street at Dat Dog, tables normally busy at lunch time were empty.

"It really has a very strong impact," said Bill DiPaola, Chief Operating Officer of Dat Dog Enterprises. "You can see that in the parking, you can see that on the faces of the people that come here."

This project has been done on a piecemeal basis. A Corps spokesman said Freret was closed in January for sewer line relocation, again in April for pile driving, and now, again, for the big five-month project. No one wants to be detoured for a third time.

Heading downtown drivers can detour at Nashville or Octavia to Claiborne. Heading Uptown drivers can turn north on the one open lane on Jefferson to Claiborne.

"No, I'm not happy," said a driver. "It is almost like we're fenced in."

 

(© 2016 WWL)


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