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Here's how the French Quarter could change after the coronavirus pandemic

Concepts like outdoor cafés, space for tables for restaurants, bike routes and even parklets could be the French Quarter of the future.

NEW ORLEANS — During a time when the French Quarter is seeing less people and cars, the city of New Orleans is seeing a new vision for it.

“We’re in a very unpredictable dynamic crisis right now and we have to do something about it in a myriad of way and this is one of those ways involving the core our city,” said New Orleans deputy CAO for infrastructure Ramsey Green.

Green says it’s a project spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic. The goal is to find ways to use public spaces, like streets and sidewalks, to help struggling businesses and people to get around while staying socially distanced.  

“Our residents, our local businesses, they need to be able to do business despite this pandemic,” said Green. “What we’re trying to do is figure out a more efficient use with some of the public space that largely isn’t being used in the way it was pre-COVID.

Taking cues from cities around the world, concepts like outdoor cafés, space for tables for restaurants, bike routes and even parklets could be the French Quarter of the near future.

“It’s more about a decision about how the land is used rather than it is a construction project for the use of the land,” said Green.

During designated hours there would be pedestrian malls on Bourbon, Royal and Frenchmen Streets.  More permanent ones would be next to the French Market and on Orleans Avenue.

To do this, some sidewalks would be expanded, interior streets would be slowed to 15 miles per hour, some street parking would be eliminated, and some streets would be closed to traffic. Green says it’s not a complete ban on cars, just a more pedestrian focus.  

“It’s all concepts and some of them are really popular and some of them are not and we get that,” said Green.

Green says these concepts came to be after surveys and discussions with business owners and residents, turning concerns into designs.

“This is not an arbitrary decision of government, this is a codesigned effort,” said Green.

With these concepts not being massive construction projects, expected cost is between one and two million dollars. The hope is to begin implementation by the end of the year. To look at the concepts, click here.

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