State spruces up NO for Super Bowl

Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- The state of Louisiana is spending about $13 million to spruce up roads and landscapes in New Orleans before the Super Bowl on Feb. 3. Here workers install a new fence Friday  under freshly pruned trees along the Pontchartrain Expressway. Show caption
Advocate staff photo by JOHN McCUSKER -- The state of Louisiana is spending about $13 million to spruce up roads and landscapes in New Orleans before the Super Bowl on Feb. 3. Here workers install a new fence Friday under freshly pruned trees along the Pontchartrain Expressway.

New Orleans highways, streets in the French Quarter and landscaping near Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport are getting about $24 million in improvements to spruce up the city for the Super Bowl on Feb. 3.

Nearly $13 million is being spent mostly to upgrade the Interstate 10 corridor between the Mercedes-Benz Superdome and the airport, where thousands of out-of-towners will arrive.

The list includes landscaping improvements along Airport Access Road, work on the road itself and a stretch of upgrades on Interstate 10 between the St. Charles Parish line and Williams Boulevard, a common route for entering and leaving the airport.

In addition, $11.3 million has been spent on resurfacing, repairing curbs and removing damaged sidewalks on eight street segments in and around the French Quarter.

“The significant improvements will be long-lasting and provide direct benefits for the many businesses, residents and tourists of the French Quarter,” Sherri LeBas, secretary for the state Department of Transportation and Development, said Friday in a prepared statement.

Most of the improvements are being paid for with federal funds.

New Orleans will be in the spotlight for days in advance of the Super Bowl, which is one of the most-watched television events of the year.

While the city is hosting its 10th NFL championship, this is the first one since Hurricane Katrina wrecked the city in 2005, and another chance to highlight improvements since then.

The work includes new and improved fencing along Interstate 10, painting underpasses along heavily traveled interstate routes and upgrades at New Orleans Lakefront Airport, where lots of private airplanes carrying NFL owners and others will be arriving.

Most of the work was already on the drawing board aside from the game, Mike Stack, who is District 2 administrator for DOTD, said in an interview.

“But we just accelerated them,” Stack said.

Federal funds are paying for 90 percent to 95 percent of each project, he said.

The dollars are limited to certain types of projects, which means they were not moved from road or bridge repair funds to finance the improvements.

The biggest of nine improvements — $4.7 million — is aimed at improving I-10 between the St. Charles Parish line and Williams Boulevard.

It is expected to be partially complete by game day.

Another $1.9 million is being spent for improvements on Airport Access Road, including overlay and concrete repairs, leading to the Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport.

That work began in November and is expected to be mostly done by the Super Bowl.

About $805,000 is being spent to refurbish landscaping along the same road and along I-10.

In addition, $717,942 is being spent to refurbish and replace landscaping and fencing on the I-10 corridor between the Jefferson Parish and Orleans Parish lines — near the City Park Avenue exit — and the Mercedes-Benz Superdome.

Those upgrades began in November and are set to be done by the middle of this month.

The work at Lakefront Airport involves a new overlay on the parking lot, some of which will be done before the game.

Stack said that work costs about $200,000.

Restriping on ramps around the Superdome and the Claiborne Overpass is also planned.

Interstate signs near the stadium are being replaced.

Officials also plan sweeping and litter pickup in and around downtown New Orleans before the game.

Stack said a security perimeter will be in effect in an area near the Superdome starting about one week ahead of the contest.

He said that will include lane closures, mostly on city streets, and may also affect Claiborne Avenue.

The improvements in the French Quarter are being financed from a fund called Paths for Progress, which pays for better roads in Orleans and Jefferson parishes.

The improvements were managed by DOTD officials and began in July.

Aside from sidewalk and other improvements some of the $11.3 million was used to add ramps to comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act and to add white street name tiles at project corners.

Bicycle lanes were also added to each of the eight segments.

Those upgraded are:

  • Burgundy Street between Canal Street and Esplanade Avenue.
  • Dauphine Street between Canal Street and Esplanade Avenue.
  • Esplanade Avenue between North Peters Street and N.orth Rampart Street.
  • Toulouse Street between Decatur Street and Dauphine Street.
  • Toulouse Street between Dauphine Street and N. Rampart Street.
  • St. Louis Street between Decatur Street and Dauphine Street.
  • St. Louis Street between Dauphine Street and N. Rampart Street.
  • Decatur Street between Saint Louis Street and Dumaine Street.
  • North Peters Street between Canal Street and Saint Louis Street.
  • Royal Street between Canal Street and Esplanade Avenue.