NEW ORLEANS — Mayor LaToya Cantrell today joined other leaders and community stakeholders to mark the progress of the $5.5M Martin Luther King Jr. (St. Charles – S. Claiborne) Patch Mill Overlay project that will re-imagine 14 blocks of a vital corridor in Central City. Mayor Cantrell also took the opportunity to celebrate the residents and small business owners in the area who will benefit from the work but might feel adverse impacts during the construction period.
“This project is a long time coming, and I know that our residents, as well as business owners in this community, are excited about the improvements,” said Mayor Cantrell. “Without a doubt, I know that this transformation will positively impact our community here in Central City and our businesses that we all depend upon. We also need to ensure that we invest and help them to be the best that they can be for the City of New Orleans.”
The scope of this work will include repaving the road, repairing sidewalks, adding ADA-compliant curb ramps and high-visibility crosswalks and installing protected bike lanes. The project stretches from South Claiborne Avenue to St. Charles Avenue and is on track to be completed by summer 2023. About 80 percent of the construction is funded through the Federal Highway Administration Surface Transportation Program and administered through the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LaDOTD), with 20 percent coming from local dollars.
“I’m so proud that the Federal Highway Administration was able to deliver the majority of the funds to make this project possible,” said Congressman Troy Carter. “By investing in the walkability and safety of this neighborhood, we are also investing in the future of this neighborhood and business district. Even as construction begins today, I encourage community members to continue patronizing these local businesses and shopping local.”
“DOTD is proud to continue partnering with the City of New Orleans to improve infrastructure,” said LaDOTD Secretary Shawn D. Wilson, Ph.D. “It is important to ensure our community continues to meet the needs of residents by enhancing not only our roadways, but walkability and bicycle access where possible. In 2009, DOTD adopted a complete streets policy with a goal of balancing the mobility, health and safety needs of all users of the transportation system.”
“Helping businesses continue to operate smoothly during planned interruptions, like the resurfacing, safety and transportation improvements on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard., is one way to keep our local businesses here, providing services and products that keep local dollars recirculating through New Orleans’ economy,” said Maryann Miller, New Orleans Program Manager, StayLocal. “StayLocal is excited that this resurfacing project will increase access for people who walk, ride a bike, take the bus or drive their cars to these Central City businesses, and to the rest of the city – inviting residents and visitors to return to dine and shop here again and again.”
The project is being implemented in coordination with FEMA-funded projects elsewhere in the neighborhood, including Central City Groups A & B. In District B, the Department of Public Works (DPW) currently has 13 active projects in construction valued at $171 million, including:
- Projects currently in the Bid & Award Phase – eight valued at $34M
- Completed projects since May 2018 – eight valued at $18M
DPW also is working with other City agencies to deliver a comprehensive project. This includes identifying and repairing damaged streetlights and protecting the street trees during construction. The New Orleans Police Department (NOPD) 6th District is adding foot patrols to ensure that residents who may have to move their cars from the street during construction can do so safely.
“I want to thank Mayor Cantrell for her leadership, our residents and small business owners for their patience, as well as our project team as we move forward to complete this work in a timely, safe and efficient manner,” said Joseph Threat, Deputy Chief Administrative Officer and Chief Resilience Officer. “We will continue to coordinate with our other nearby FEMA projects, as well as with the residents and businesses throughout construction.”
“As a community advocate based in Central City, PlayBuild NOLA’s mission is to transform urban spaces into dynamic play and learning environments to empower kids to design their futures. We are excited about the plan to make Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard a safer space for all of our residents but especially our children who walk and bike on or across the street every day. We also appreciate efforts to keep the community engaged and lifting up our small businesses,” said Angela Kyle, Founder, PlayBuild NOLA; member, New Orleans Complete Streets Coalition.
“We are happy to be here to serve as a neighbor in the community and a member of the New Orleans Complete Streets Coalition. We’re excited that the improvements on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard will make our streets smoother but also safer and more accessible. All week we see neighbors walking the block, riding their bikes and taking the bus. We hope this project makes is better for everyone; that defines Complete Streets. As a business owner, I appreciate the outreach and engagement the City is doing to not only keep us informed of the progress but also to hear our concerns as we experience any adverse impacts,” said Meagen Moreland-Taliancich, Co-Founder/Chief Brand Officer, Happy Raptor Distilling in Central City; member, New Orleans Complete Streets Coalition.
Since May 2018, the City of New Orleans has completed 134 projects worth $425 million; there are 56 projects under construction with an estimated total value of $604 million.
The project team includes contractors HNTB (construction engineers), and Boh Bros. Construction Co., LLC. Happy Raptor Distilling (1512 Robert C. Blakes Sr. Drive), located half a block from Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, provided complimentary lemonade to the event participants. Mayor Cantrell was also joined by leadership from NOPD’s 6th District as well as the New Orleans Fire Department, both of whose stations are located on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. Other officials included District 93 State Rep. Royce Duplessis, Chris Welty of LaDOTD, Mark Van Hala of the Sewerage & Water Board of New Orleans and Michael Karam, Director of Parks & Parkways.
Representatives from several other businesses and organizations were in attendance, including RicRack NOLA, Southern Food & Beverage Museum, Bike Easy, Blue Krew/Blue Bikes and Opportunities Academy.