Two-Way Traffic Returns to Canal Street Near Hard Rock Site
NEW ORLEANS — Yesterday, Mayor LaToya Cantrell today joined other City officials and business leaders to announce the recent reopening of two-way vehicle traffic on several blocks of Canal Street near the site of the October 2019 Hard Rock Hotel collapse.
Three construction workers were killed during the incident – and local businesses were shut down for months as leaders worked through the logistical and legal obstacles to demolishing partially collapsed building and clear the site. The pandemic, which began a few months later, made the situation more dire for businesses in the area.
Last April, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration released a report that places most of the blame for the collapse of the 18-story building on Heaslip Engineering LLC., which disputes the findings, along with 10 other companies working on the project. In August, the City of New Orleans sued Hard Rock owner Mohan Kailas and his partners at 1031 Canal Development LLC to recoup millions of dollars it has spent to deal with the aftermath of the disaster.
The legal repercussions of the collapse will continue for years, but opening Canal Street to two-way traffic again is a major milestone.
“The reopening of Canal Street has been a long time coming,” said Cantrell at the event. “There has been a lot of hard, thoughtful, and careful work put into this by all our agencies and partners. We wanted to get this done right. We’re happy that one of the busiest and most important streets in the City has been reopened. Even as we faced all the challenges that have emerged since the collapse, including the COVID-19 pandemic and a historic hurricane season, we continued to push those responsible for the collapse to clean up their mess and return our streets to the people.”
The City said two lanes of vehicular traffic on Canal Street are now open from Burgundy through North Rampart Street. The outside lane (closest to the collapse site) has been converted into a protected pedestrian pathway. Officials said they are working with the owners of the Hard Rock site to restore the sidewalk and streetscape to its pre-collapse condition.
Ramsey Green, the City’s deputy chief administrative officer for infrastructure said the next steps will be repairs to sewer lines, water lines and streetcar lines on Rampart and Canal. The Regional Transit Authority said it is working to restore service to the Canal streetcar line by late summer 2021 and the Rampart line by the end of the 2021.
At the nearby Saenger Theatre, a roof replacement and other repairs are expected to be complete in July. The theater is due to host the Broadway in New Orleans series, which is scheduled to begin in November.