City Park replacing closed-down roller coaster
A popular thrill ride for the city’s children since the late 1980s, City Park’s Lady Bug rollercoaster will begin to come down this week as crews prepare to install a $1.4 million replacement.
The new ride — a little higher and a little faster — will be paid for with Federal Emergency Management Agency funds since Hurricane Katrina’s floodwaters damaged the existing one.
The new rollercoaster, which will be able to hold 20 people, will take about eight months to manufacture and should be installed and opened by summer 2014.
“Everything is going to be brand-spanking new,” said John Hopper, the park’s chief development officer.
The rollercoaster operated after Katrina and passed annual inspections. However, a more recent inspection found corrosion on the structure that holds up the track, Hopper said, and the ride stopped running in January 2011.
That corrosion, it turned out, was due to saltwater that swamped the park during Katrina.
“That’s what led them to not certify it in 2011,” Hopper said.
The new Lady Bug rollercoaster will be a little larger than the existing ride, that opened in 1989.
It will reach speeds of 20 mph and heights of 30 feet, Hopper said — much the same as the ride parkgoers remember from previous visits.
The August 2005 storm flooded most of the 1,300-acre park. FEMA has obligated about $28 million to the park, including $3.3 million for Tad Gormley Stadium, $2.2 million for the amusement park, $5.4 million for building repairs and replacements and another $5 million for infrastructure repairs, including roads and utilities.
City Park is accepting sponsors for each of the new cars. Sponsorships are $25,000, with the money going to the park’s endowment, Hopper said.
Dot’s Diner has signed up to sponsor the first car.