Saturday, May 27, 2017

"Public access"

News is starting to break this week about the future of the New Orleans Public Belt Railroad and the Port of New Orleans.  Apparently the mayor is looking to kill a bunch of lingering birds with a single stone.
New Orleans officials are trying to orchestrate an elaborate swap that would turn over the city-owned Public Belt Railroad to the Port of New Orleans, and in turn would give the city the last two working wharves along the downriver end of the French Quarter, according to sources familiar with the talks.

The deal, if achieved, would accomplish two things: It would ease concerns among port officials about the future of the railroad, which is crucial to their operations, and which Mayor Mitch Landrieu's administration has been considering privatizing.

And by giving the city control of the last bit of working riverfront between the Central Business District and Bywater, it could potentially open up uninterrupted access for the public to a two-mile stretch of the riverfront in the city's historic center.
Yeah it could open up access for the public or it could open up access to prime real estate for developers looking to drop in more hotels and/or luxry housing we do seem to enjoy building around here.  We'll see how that discussion develops if this deal goes through.

Another interesting facet of this story has the Port looking to acquire the Avondale Shipyard to make up for the loss of the wharves. There had been a rumor going around about a long term plan to relocate all port facilities away from the Orleans Parish riverfront to sites in St. Bernard Parish and at Avondale.  This development doesn't necessarily confirm that rumor but it does lend it a whiff of credibility.  At a recent Dock Board meeting, the Port's CEO did say there are "multiple scenarios" under discussion.

Anyway, remember this controversial Florida Avenue expansion project?
In addition to the project’s likely property seizures, displacement of residents and construction nuisances, Campbell said that if Florida Avenue is rebuilt, the Ninth Ward will be subject to exhaust, noise and vibrations from trucks. Hazardous cargo will be a threat.

Louisiana’s Department of Transportation and Development has big aims for the project, however, saying it can connect Florida Avenue from Elysian Fields Avenue to Paris Road in a reliable manner. The project can provide an optimal, north-south connection from Florida Avenue to St. Bernard Port. A roadway bridge would be built over the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal, adjacent to the existing Florida Avenue Bridge. Area roads would be improved and newly aligned, DOTD has said.
The big picture goal of relocating the Port of New Orleans fits there as well. Just something to keep in mind.

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