City Issues Update On Status, Path Forward For French Quarter Infrastructure Improvement Project
NEW ORLEANS — The City of New Orleans issued an update on the status and path forward for the French Quarter Infrastructure Improvement Project (FQIIP) which began on April 24. Due to significant rain delays, unforeseen site conditions and budget, the city has determined that it will take a phased approach to complete the project, reps said.
Phase 1, which is under way and includes fully reconstructing the 100 – 400 blocks of Bourbon Street and installing safety bollards, will be completed by December under the Department of Public Works’ maintenance contract. Phase 2, which includes fully reconstructing the 500 – 800 blocks of Bourbon Street, will be designed, bid and awarded through a separate contract with the goal of starting in May 2018. The plan for bollard installation in the 400 – 800 blocks has not yet been finalized; until that time, NOPD barricades will be used during major events, city reps said.
“Public safety and bolstering preparedness continues to be a top priority,” said Mayor Mitch Landrieu. “Although the French Quarter project has presented some challenges, we cannot ignore the tragedies that are happening all over the world. We must continue to make investments to ensure the safety of our residents and visitors, and that includes upgrading our infrastructure in vulnerable areas.”
The original estimate for the FQIIP was $6 million (city – $4 million and SWBNO – $2 million). The current estimate to complete Phase 1 is $6.343 million and Phase 2 is $7.022 million, bringing the total estimate for the entire project to $13.365 million (city – $7.879 million and SWBNO – $5.486 million). Both Phase 1 and Phase 2 are fully funded by the city and SWBNO, with the additional $3.879 million cost to the city coming from bond funds. Following are some of the scope changes and estimated additional costs:
• The increased number of drain lines and size to meet current design standards, custom-made connections and siphons in order to run drain lines underneath or around other underground utility infrastructure costs an additional $2.385 million.
• Additional offsets to run water line around other underground utility infrastructure, upgraded meter vaults and added valves for future maintenance costs an extra $2.025 million.
• Additional required point repairs, repair/lining of additional sewer service connection and installation of new sewer system cleanouts costs an extra $1.871 million.
• Changes to a full replacement of brick sidewalk due to the high number of new service connections and new underground conduit costs an additional $.7 million.
• Additional and continuous noise and vibration monitoring and survey support costs an additional $.4 million.
• Lesson 1: The aggressive project schedule put almost every activity on the critical path (meaning that there could be little to no deviation from the schedule for activities on the critical path) with little time built into the schedule for rain delays. June was the third wettest month on record with more than double the average annual rainfall. As of July 31, 15 work days had been lost due to weather delays.
• Lesson 2: The exact locations and size of almost all of the utility lines underneath Bourbon Street are either missing or inaccurately depicted on available as-built drawings. Exploratory trenching in multiple locations in each block is the only reliable way to verify where the utility lines are buried, how deep they are buried and how big they are. As of July 31, three work days had been lost due to necessary exploratory trenching to support field design and safe construction.
• Lesson 3: Space underneath Bourbon Street is even more limited than anticipated to support the installation of new underground utility lines that are in most cases larger to meet current design standards. Due to conflicts underground with multiple utility lines in a very limited space, there are no straight, standard utility line installations. Specialty utility line installations take longer and cost significantly more (three to four times more) than originally anticipated. As of July 31, eight work days had been needed to resolve unforeseen site conditions (i.e. utility conflicts with off-sets, siphons, custom-built manholes and other engineering measures).
• Lesson 4: The condition of the underground utility lines/ duct banks is even worse than anticipated. Sewer service connections from businesses connected to the drain lines and grease globs in the drain lines, which is a violation of the sanitary code as well as roof drain lines from buildings terminating underneath the street, but not connected to the drainage system, which is prevalent in about 20 percent of the businesses (in some cases allowing runoff to flow into utility manholes), which is a violation of the plumbing code. As of July 31, 11 work days had been lost due to unforeseen site conditions.
• Lesson 5: Continuous outreach during all phases of the project to set expectations, immediately address concerns, and communicate changes as they occur on site is critical to success.
“The FQIIP is highly complex with even more variables and complications than could have originally been predicted,” said Dani Galloway, interim director of Public Works. “We have learned a tremendous amount over the last five months and those lessons learned will be applied to the next phase to ensure that it runs on time and on budget.”
Phase 1 – Current Status
A full closure began on the 100 block of Bourbon Street on Apr. 24, followed by the 300 block on May 15, and the 200 block on July 5. A full closure of the 400 block will begin after the 100 block is re-opened to vehicular traffic.
• 100 Block – Weather permitting, the 100 block will re-open to pedestrian traffic on or around Aug. 23 and to vehicular traffic when fully completed on or around Sept. 8.
• 200 Block – Weather permitting, the 200 block will re-open to pedestrian traffic early to mid-October and to vehicular traffic when fully completed on or before Oct. 26.
• 300 Block – Weather permitting, the 300 block will re-open to pedestrian traffic mid-September and to vehicular traffic when fully completed on or before Sept. 30.
• 400 Block – Weather permitting, the 400 block will re-open to pedestrian and to vehicular traffic in December.
Streetlights – Current Status
To deter crime and improve the performance of the camera surveillance system, the city is enhancing the lighting on Bourbon Street and throughout the French Quarter as part of the FQIIP.
• 12 new, additional light poles are being installed around the perimeter of Jackson Square by the end of August 2017.
• 150 streetlights on Iberville, Decatur/ N. Peters, Bourbon and Royal streets have been converted to LEDs.
• An additional 750 LEDs are on order to convert the remaining streetlights in the French Quarter to LEDs by the end of September 2017.
Sidewalks – Current Status
The city is upgrading the sidewalks along the 800 – 1300 blocks of Decatur Street to be smooth, continuous and accessible as part of the FQIIP. Crews are currently performing work on the 1100 block of Decatur Street. The overall project is approximately 70 percent complete and is anticipated to be wrapped up in September, weather permitting.
The multi-million dollar FQIIP calls for removing and replacing existing water and drainage lines, repairing the sewer line, repaving the roadway in concrete, installing new sidewalks when necessary, streetlights and installing American with Disabilities Act-compliant curb ramps at intersections.
View a full description of the project and weekly updates here