Work will begin this week on the resurfacing and sidewalk replacement on South Carrollton Avenue from Interstate 10 to St. Charles Avenue, a project expected to finish by August.
The project also will bring a bike lane, handicapped-accessible curb cuts at each cross street, and new curbs along the 2.2-mile stretch of road.
Though the project likely will create dreadful temporary traffic problems – down to one lane in work areas -it’s set to smooth out what has become a series of undercarriage-scraping asphalt hills and valleys.
The program is being paid for with federal relief money funneled through the South Louisiana Submerged Road Program.
In spite of the short notice and spotty notification, a number of interested residents attended a public meeting at Notre Dame Seminary Tuesday night to hear what the project manager had to say.
The tenor went from informative to incensed.
Four crews each working on a four-block segment are expected to take seven months to complete the street and sidewalk repair program, said Larry Blazek of HTNB.
The crowd expressed the greatest concern for the oak trees, which line a large portion of Carrollton Avenue. Part of the identity of the neighborhood lies in the sweeping canopy along the avenue, and residents have always been protective of their signature trees.
That concern was heightened with the distress suffered from Katrina’s floodwaters and subsequent power-line crews that made repairs.
With that in mind Barry Kohl, professor of earth sciences at Tulane University asked a number of detailed questions about the plan to safeguard the oaks.
After a few minutes of persistent questioning, Carl Panebiango from Hard Rock construction, the on-the-ground contractor, broke out of presentation style and went on the defensive. His assertion was that they were on a tight deadline and had met all the requirements. A heated discussion followed, with a number of residents trying to impress upon Panebiango the value of protecting the oaks.
A smaller, less intense discussion followed regarding the new bike lanes. Most of the residents seemed enthusiastic about the bike lanes and resigned to the general disruption to come.
What remains to be seen is how this will affect the heavily trafficked Carrollton area and the 3 schools along this stretch.