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'How am I going to stay in business?': Two major N.O. road projects postponed in the same week

"How are you going to do your work? How am I going to stay in business?" Blancher said, "And I think this is a legitimate thing for a business owner to ask for."

NEW ORLEANS — Roger Blais has lived on Magazine Street near Leake Avenue for 30 years. He said he's seen the curb in front of his home fall into a sinkhole and plenty of potholes. 

After receiving notices of scheduled work, he thought Thursday morning improvements would start. 

"Yesterday we got another notice saying they were going to start today," Blais said on Thursday.

Crews were planning to close Magazine Street near the Audubon Zoo between Leake Avenue and West Drive to remove pavement and an old streetcar that's beneath the road. 

"All of this stuff needs to be replaced. It's painful but it's got to be done," Blais said. 

But Thursday morning the City sent a notice that it would be postponed until next week. 

"We parked on the levee," Blais said, "I think everybody on the block anticipated it, and nothing happened." 

In a press release sent shortly before 9 A.M. on Thursday, the City said: 

"The City of New Orleans today announced that Department of Public Works (DPW) contractor, Hard Rock Construction (HRC), LLC, has postponed the temporary closure of the roadway of the 7000 to 7100 blocks of Magazine Street as part of the Magazine Street (Leake Avenue to East Drive) project. 

HRC is now anticipated to mobilize and begin work on Tuesday, Oct. 11. The closure will remain in effect until Friday, Nov. 11, 2022, weather permitting."

Nearby, another project earlier this week was postponed. 

Crews were supposed to shut down South Carrollton Avenue between Fig Street and Earhart Blvd. to begin roadwork. 

John Blancher, owner and proprietor of Rock n Bowl and Ye Olde College Inn, may be the reason why that was postponed indefinitely. 

"They were essentially telling me for two months nobody can get into your parking lot," Blancher said.

Blancher said he found out about the closure in front of his business on Friday evening through word-of-mouth and that he received no prior notice from the City or contractors. 

"You know we do a lot of parties and events at Rock n Bowl," Blancher said, "And I have commitments and contracts to service people. I've got wedding receptions coming up." 

Blancher contacted the City and his councilmember immediately and by Monday morning, the project was postponed until further notice. 

"I don't think it was thought out," Blancher said, "I think whoever finally decided to take a look at the situation realized it couldn't work." 

Blancher said closing all three lanes of Carrollton would have forced traffic to neighborhood streets that are in need of repairs or impassable. He said he was concerned about emergency vehicles getting through as well. 

Now, he's asking the City for a new game plan. 

"How are you going to do your work? How am I going to stay in business?" Blancher said, "And I think this is a legitimate thing for a business owner to ask for."

According to the City's press release, there are currently 57 roadwork projects are under construction with an estimated value of nearly $634M. 

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