Wednesday, June 12, 2024

More details emerge on New Orleans’ $40 million facelift ahead of Super Bowl LIX

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The first 10 floors of the derelict Plaza Tower will be wrapped with welcome signs. A giant mural will cover a portion of the city-owned parking garage across the street from City Hall, along with smaller ones on buildings scattered throughout downtown. Water line replacement and other utility work around the Hard Rock hotel collapse is now getting underway.

These are just a few of the infrastructure and beautification projects that are part of a $40 million package city officials are planning ahead of Super Bowl LIX in February. They include city wide graffiti abatement, interstate lighting, downtown road resurfacing and individual curb cuts and lamppost replacements. There are more than 400 projects in all.

“This is going to be long-lasting infrastructure improvements that we are putting forward,” said Joe Threat, the city’s infrastructure chief, speaking at a City Council committee meeting on Monday.







Joe Threat Sr., Deputy CAO of Infrastructure, speaks during a 2023 Hurricane Season press conference at City Hall in New Orleans, Wednesday, May 31, 2023. (Photo by Sophia Germer, NOLA.com, The Times-Picayune)




Threat and other officials discussed some of the project details after Mayor LaToya Cantrell last week dubbed this “the summer of Super Bowl,” and, along with Gov. Jeff Landry, promised to complete a slew of projects at breakneck speed before hundreds of thousands of visitors descend on New Orleans for a Super Bowl that will come just ahead of Mardi Gras.

On Monday, Threat and Michael Hecht, the executive director of Greater New Orleans Inc., who Landry tapped to coordinate city and state efforts, offered additional details about the projects and how the city plans to pay for them.

The city’s capital budget will cover most of the work, along with $7.5 million from the state. The city and state are separately paying for programmable LED lights on the Crescent City Connection, a $21 million project that will become an “instant icon,” said Hecht.

“Each of them are a chance to beautify ourselves,“ Hecht said. “Every single one matters and we’re attacking them all together.”







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Saints and Pelicans owner Gayle Benson, left, thanks New Orleans Mayor LaToya Cantrell for giving her a crystal award featuring a football on it as a way of saying thanks to Benson for her efforts in helping the city host the next Super Bowl. The New Orleans Super Bowl LIX Host Committee held an event on Wednesday, February 21, 2024. (Photo by Chris Granger, The Times-Picayune)




The work on the Plaza Tower and in other tourist-heavy areas will be among the more prominent projects, but work is extending beyond downtown areas.

For example, planners are eyeing the condition of routes between downtown and the New Orleans Lakefront Airport which caters to private jets. A bid package for road projects on Downman Road and Hayne Boulevard is now being finalized.

Decorative fencing is planned for highway underpasses, including around the city impound lot under Interstate-10 on North Claiborne Avenue.

“When people get their cars towed, they can go to a nice place to pick that car up and pay the fee,” Threat joked.







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Michael Hecht in New Orleans, Thursday, March 7, 2024. (Photo by Sophia Germer, The Times-Picayune)




The Earhart Boulevard underpass near Home Depot is a particular focus, with plans for new murals and greenery in the area.

People currently living in a cluster of tents in that area will be “rehoused in a humane way,” Hecht said.

“The parks and public spaces will range from things that you might not notice today,” Hecht said. “But once they’re beautified, then you will notice them and they’ll have a collective sense of a city which is welcoming for all of its residents.”

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