NEW ORLEANS — There's a traffic alert for people heading into the French Quarter. The intersection of Orleans and Bourbon Street is now closed to through traffic, so work crews can install new utilities in the area.
Frustration has been felt all over Bourbon St. as improvements continue to be made.
"Honestly, everyday I see that fence get closer and closer and it gets scarier and scarier," said bartender, Toby Lefort.
The project, which initially started under Mayor Mitch Landrieu, aims at replacing water, sewer and drainage lines, repaving roads and updating sidewalks.
"Everybody says it's worth it in the long run," Lefort said.
Divided into two phases, the first was behind schedule and over budget.
According to our partners at the New Orleans Advocate, it came with about a $10 million price tag. Now in Phase 2, the city says things are on track. Work currently is focused on the first part of the 700 block of Bourbon.
"Phase 1 we were able to learn a lot," said Sarah McLaughlin Porteous, the Director of Roadwork NOLA. "There were a lot of unexpected things that came up and we were able to learn from those and create a new framework for Phase 2 and that's working really well and we're on schedule. Well of course we learned how important communication is. So we're continuing to have engagements with the community and stakeholder meetings. We also learned how challenging it is to work with Entergy gas, Entergy electric, City's S&WB all in a very small space, so one of the things that we did was allow Entergy gas and electric to work ahead of the city’s project and that has really, I think, helped us stay on schedule.”
With Carnival ramping up and Mardi Gras a few weeks away, there are questions.
“It’s a big concern because of the fact that, everybody says it won't effect it, but it will effect it because once people are walking down and they see all this they'll maybe turn around," Lefort said about the impacts of business.
However, the city says there's a plan.
"So we actually built in a full demobilization into the contract, so that means there will be no sign of the contractor," McLaughlin Porteous said. "They'll have to back-fill any open trenches, there'll be no fences by close of business on Feb. 18. The contractor will return on March 7."
Construction is expected to finished this summer. And while that's still months away, those affected just hope it's done soon and with little delay.
“All I hope is that everybody realizes one thing, that the businesses are still open," Lefort saod. "We’re ready for you to come in and have a drink.”
While it won't be a full demobilization, the city says the contractor will also not be working for events like French Quarter Fest and Jazz Fest, when a lot of people are expected.