Jan 3, 2013 16:13 N.O. says parade route to be cleaned N.O. says parade route to be cleaned Advocate staff photo by ELIOT KAMENITZ Crews are busy replacing streetcar rail ties on the St. Charles Avenue line, creating a mess on the neutral ground where thousands gather to watch Carnival parades. RTA says it will the area cleared up by the time the first parade rolls on Jan. 25. Pedestrians try to navigate the area near Josephine Street and St. Charles Avenue on Monday. Streetcar project to be suspended before Carnival BY DANNY MONTEVERDE| New Orleans bureau Jan. 03, 2013 Comments New Orleans — As Carnival parades prepare to roll down St. Charles Avenue in the coming days, one crew is making way for those other krewes. Workers have spent the past several months on a preventative maintenance project to replace crossties, track supports that are hidden under the grass, on the St. Charles line. That work has reached the neutral ground between Euterpe and Josephine streets, leaving it a muddy mess, with heavy machinery at various spots along the avenue and a place unsuitable for parade-goers. Regardless of how it looks now, RTA officials say, the area will be cleared in time for the crowds that will gather for the Krewes of Oshun and Cleopatra, the first parades in Orleans Parish, on Jan. 25. “The good news is the agency (RTA) was able to negotiate with its contractors a suspension of contract work,” RTA spokeswoman Patrice Mercadel. said The contractor working on the project has promised to have the site ready for revelers by Jan. 20. Work to complete the project will resume on Ash Wednesday, Mercadel said. The Phunny Phorty Phellows, the group that annually rolls down the St. Charles line to usher in the start of Carnival season on Twelfth Night, is expected to be able to continue its tradition Sunday. The streetcar will again roll down the entire length of St. Charles Avenue for the handful of days between the work stoppage and the beginning of the parades. Right now, buses carry passengers between Louisiana Avenue and the Canal Street-downtown loop. “Folks will be able to enjoy the parades on the streetcars and neutral ground,” Mercadel said of the temporary reprieve in service and clearance of work materials. The work to repair the crossties happens every 25 years, she said. It began last year on the South Carrollton Avenue spur and has continued down St. Charles Avenue as work progressed. After parades begin to roll, streetcar and bus service will again be affected. Riders who need information about modified schedules are asked to visit www.norta.com for information on updated schedules. Information can also be found on the RTA’s Twitter account at twitter.com/NewOrleansRTA or on its Facebook page at www.facebook.com/NewOrleansRTA.