Wednesday, January 03, 2018

We love our stupid city

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I don't know about y'all but I am feeling all 300 of those years myself.  Ready or not, though, it's time to play the Tricentennial game in earnest. That means more tourism-oriented marketing like that banner the Columns Hotel is flying in the photo above. It also means lots and lots and lots.. and also lots more commemorative events.  If the "Katrina 10" exercise we went through a few years ago is any sort of template, expect these to be a mix of crass commercialism and cynical political opportunism with, sure, one or two worthwhile things thrown in here and there.

There is at least a partial list of activities at the city's Tricentennial website which reads, in part,
To celebrate 300 years of rich history, diversity, cultural traditions and resilience, the City of New Orleans will celebrate 2018 like no other.  To accomplish this, Mayor Mitchell Landrieu formed the 2018 NOLA Commission to allow input for events and programs that will honor the anniversary of the founding of New Orleans.  A variety of special events, concerts, fireworks and completion of major infrastructure projects will take place in 2018.  We invite you to join us in celebrating this special anniversary as only New Orleans can do.
Many of the events listed seem to be either only tangentially related to the Tricentennial theme or are regular annual events that have been shoehorned in. Not that there's anything wrong with that.   A cursory look through brings up some neat stuff, though not a lot of details.  Apparently there will be "Mardi Gras themed fireworks" on Twelfth Night.  There are more "Tricentennial fireworks" on April 22 and again on May 6 at the close of Jazzfest. The site also lists the New Year's Eve fireworks but not the Fourth of July for some reason.  Anyway... there will be fireworks.   This HNOC exhibit looks interesting. In March there will be a "Tricentennial Symposium" which raises an eyebrow. The description reads only, "Lectures and cultural programming will take place throughout the city and explore the 300-year history. Open to the public." I found a little more detail here but only a little. 

But these aren't the only ongoing events celebrating the "cultural traditions and resilience" of New Orleans. Here's one that was omitted somehow. The SELA drainage work, which was authorized in 1996 and so has been ongoing for about 7 percent of the city's history, is hustling to get a busy intersection complete in time for parade season. 
Construction crews began hammering away at the intersection of Magazine Street and Louisiana Avenue on Tuesday (Jan. 2), kicking off road reconstruction work that's set to close the busy Uptown intersection for a month.

Part of a years-long US Army Corps of Engineers effort to install a drainage canal on Louisiana Avenue, the closure now in effect is detouring vehicular traffic away from the entire block of Magazine leading up to the intersection. The closure is scheduled to last for about 30 days, according to a news release issued by the Army Corps last Tuesday.
Some of the area business owners quoted in that story have some funny ideas about redesigning the streets when this is finished. Constantine Georges wants more angular parking on the Louisiana neutral ground. Hopefully that gets tossed in the same bin where the city lost its plan for landscaping Napoleon Avenue when work finished there.  Nothing has happened there since these strips of turf were laid back around last Mardi Gras.

Finishing Napoleon

It turns out they did notice one thing, though.
City Hall late Tuesday evening released the following statement: "During inspection of the Napoleon Avenue SELA project, DPW (the Department of Public Works) discovered that the conduit for the traffic signal interconnect between St. Charles and Magazine that was in place prior to construction had not been replaced. The Corps and its contractor are in the process of replacing the conduit which should be compete by the end of January."
So this morning, they're digging it back up.  The story doesn't say whether or not there will be street closures there again. But I wouldn't try to get across Uptown without some advance scouting and maybe a passport for while.

Digging it back up

Also celebrating "300 years of rich history, diversity, cultural traditions and resilience," is the Sewerage and Water Board which came up with this fun activity for everyone to play at during this week's freeze. 
The S&WB also asked residents to take some advice about how to keep water running without putting too much demand on the system.

"If residents must run their water, the Sewerage & Water Board urges them to run only the faucet farthest from their property's main stop valve," Rainey said in the statement. "The stream should be no more than 1/16 of an inch wide, about 'pencil lead thin.'"

Residents are also being asked to turn water off when temperatures rise above 32 degrees. As of 8 p.m. Tuesday, temperatures were hovering at 37 degrees, but the area is under a hard freeze warning overnight, with temperatures predicted between 21 and 27 degrees.
Look for special S&WB measuring pencils branded with the Tricentennial logo available for distribution later this year. 

Also of note in that story, we must have missed it when former T-P reporter Richard Rainey went to work for the water agency recently headed by Paul Rainwater. Rainey is named as the S&WB spokesperson in the article.  There has been some controversy over the progress of Mayor-elect Cantrell's transition team lately.  We do hope whoever is advising her remembers to throw in a few names that are also cringeworthy puns on their departmental functions when they get down to making these appointments.  This is a year to honor cultural traditions, after all.

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