NEW ORLEANS — City officials released an updated map showing a greatly expanded evacuation zone for downtown New Orleans as they prepare to implode two badly damaged construction cranes embedded in the partially collapsed Hard Rock Hotel construction site.
The crane demolition is scheduled for Sunday afternoon, sometime from noon to sundown.
The new evacuation map released Saturday night widens the evacuation zone by several streets in all directions.
The demolition time has not yet been finalized, but city officials say it will take place around noon at the earliest.
The temporary evacuation zone extends from Basin Street to Dauphine Street and from Tulane Avenue to Conti Street.
Everybody in that zone will be evacuated. City officials have said they will go door-to-door to evacuate the area immediately around the collapse site. All utility service will be shut off for the evacuation zone ahead of the demolition, including electricity, gas, water and sewer services.
Anybody who needs someplace to stay after being evacuated is being asked to go to the Treme Recreational Center at 900 N Villere Street.
The temporary exclusion zone extends from North Villere Street to Royal Street and from Union Street to Toulouse Street.
The temporary exclusion zone is an area where nobody is allowed to be outside during the hours leading up to the demolition. That zone has been designated because city officials are worried about contaminants in the air and loud sound from the explosion.
A hard traffic closure will be in effect from Chartres Street to Robertson Street and from St. Peter Street to Perdido Street.
The hard traffic closure, which was not included in previous evacuation maps, is designed to keep all vehicles away from the area before and during the demolition.
City leaders hope to demolish the cranes with a series of controlled explosions that would drop them straight down without damaging gas and electricity lines and historic buildings.
Gas to a major utility line was being shut down and steps were being taken to protect that line and underground electrical lines that could be affected by falling debris.
If the operation is successful, Fire Chief Tim McConnell said, the towers will drop vertically and simultaneously. "Think of it like it's melting," he told reporters.
Experts, including some who brought down damaged buildings at Ground Zero after the 9/11 terrorist attacks, have worked around the clock since Saturday to devise a means of safely bringing down the cranes.
The construction project collapsed Saturday in blinding clouds of dust, killing three workers and injuring more than 20 people. Only one of three bodies has been recovered from the wreckage.
The cause of the collapse remains unknown. The Occupational Health and Safety Administration will investigate. Lawsuits are already being filed on behalf of the injured.