Esplanade to drop 2 lanes, add bike lane

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER --    Work on Esplanade Avenue from Claiborne Avenue to Bayou St. John has restricted traffic on the roadway to one lane Monday, March 25, 2013.
Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- Work on Esplanade Avenue from Claiborne Avenue to Bayou St. John has restricted traffic on the roadway to one lane Monday, March 25, 2013.

Drivers who travel down either side of one stretch of Esplanade Avenue have undoubtedly noticed the crews that began to work on the street earlier this month.

Once those crews leave in about three months, the avenue will be reduced from four lanes to two between Moss Street and North Claiborne Avenue, while a bicycle lane and a wider parking lane will take the place of the lanes that are being lost.

The work is part of the Paths to Progress program, which was announced last spring.

The state dedicated $90 million in transportation improvement funds to New Orleans and Jefferson Parish. Work in the city has been completed in the French Quarter and parts of eastern New Orleans and is ongoing in various other areas.

Construction on the Esplanade project began March 4 and is expected to be completed in mid-June, according to Bryan Jones with HNTB Corp., the company that is overseeing Paths to Progress on behalf of the Louisiana Department of Transportation & Development.

The scope of the work on Esplanade Avenue includes:

The largest change will be the reduction of the avenue from two travel lanes on each side to one.

Jones said that decision was made by the city’s Department of Public Works. The existing travel lanes were too narrow, Jones said, making the reduction necessary.

The overall cost of the project is $3.02 million. About $60,000 of that is a split between the New Orleans Regional Planning Commission and the city’s Department of Public Works. Those dollars are paying for the bicycle lane striping and new signage, Jones said.

The cost difference is being paid for by the Federal Highway Administration Emergency Relief Program funds.

The work on Esplanade Avenue is ongoing as the city prepares to host the Allstate Sugar Bowl Crescent City Classic on Saturday.

However, the road race, the route of which includes the avenue between where it begins at the Mississippi River and where it ends at City Park, will not be affected by the ongoing construction.

A dozen badly patched areas of Esplanade are being stripped as part of the work. While they are being cleared several inches below the surface, they will be filled with gravel and other material and will have cement poured over them. Once dried, the concrete will have blacktop laid over it.

Crescent City Classic officials said that process will be completed before the 35th annual race, and all of Esplanade’s four lanes will be open from Decatur to Moss street.