NEWORLEANS - Mardi Gras can be a big challenge for drivers. Add in a Super Bowl and that challenge could magnify many times, especially those working in the Central Business District.
For those who work in the downtown area, Saturday marks the start of some major road closures, especially along Poydras in front of the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. The riverbound lanes of Poydras will be closed in front of the Superdome between Claiborne and LaSalle streets. In addition, the Poydras exit from Interstate-10 will be closed. The Dome's parking garages will remain accessible.
City officials said those who normally use Poydras to reach the CBD should instead use the Loyola exit from the Pontchartrain Expressway and then take Loyola Avenue into the CBD.
City officials point out that through the Super Bowl, parking will be very restricted in the CBD and French Quarter. They advise area residents who want to attend the various Super Bowl activities to plan to use public transit. Starting Wednesday, the RTA will be adding extra streetcars and buses to the routes serving the areas affected by the big game.
On Wednesday, as the big Super Bowl events start, traffic restrictions will begin in sections of the French Quarter. Basically, streets will be closed in the French Quarter between N. Rampart and Decatur and from Canal to Dumaine. French Quarter residents, business owners and customers will be allowed entry.
Those who live or work in the French Quarter can reach parking garages during Super Bowl week through access placards from the New Orleans Police Department Eighth District Station at Royal and Conti streets.
More information on the city's Super Bowl traffic plan can be found at http://new.nola.gov/superbowl/.
The first parades roll Friday, pushed up a week to avoid a conflict with Super Bowl activities. The Krewe of Oshun rolls along the Uptown route and will be followed by Cleopatra.
The city is also issuing reminders about parking restrictions during Mardi Gras. Ignoring them could result in booting, ticketing or towing, and violators could face hefty fines.
There is no parking along parade routes from two hours before to two hours after the parades. Violators could be towed and face a $75 fine.
Drivers are reminded to not block fire hydrants or park within twenty feet of a crosswalk, intersection or stop sign. Parking facing the wrong direction or blocking driveways or sidewalks is also illegal.
One of the worst results comes from parking in a handicap zone, which could earn a $500 fine.
There are also restrictions on parking recreational vehicles, and everyone should remember to avoid the residential parking zone. There is a potential $40 fine associated with these violations.
Parade-goers are reminded to not claim part of the neutral ground as private property and to not put furniture or portable toilets there.
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