Construction slows business on Magazine Street


Alexandria Whitten

The closed portion of Louisiana Ave. blocking traffic from Magazine Street. Construction is expected to be finished in 30 days, according to the Army Corps of Engineers. Photo credit: Alexandria Whitten

Alexandria Whitten

Since July 5, a portion of Magazine St. from Delachaise St. to Louisiana Ave. has been closed to through traffic as the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers works on the drainage and canal system through the intersection of Louisiana and Magazine for the Southeast Louisiana Urban Flood Control Project (SELA).

Construction on a canal under the neutral ground of Louisiana Ave. has been in progress since July 2014. The SELA Drainage program works to improve New Orleans infrastructure by constructing more canals and pumping stations to reduce street flooding in the city, according to the Sewage and Water Board of New Orleans’ website.

The road closure and construction has made Magazine St. noticeably quieter and more difficult to navigate, and businesses are feeling the effects.

Carol, an employee of Pack Rat Shipping Services, noticed business has slowed down and said her customers are complaining about the road closure.

“We normally will stay busy, even during the summer. Because of the construction, we are dead. Most businesses are closed because, why bother? We could probably close too because it’s so dead.”

Mark Diamond, owner of Kevin Stone Antiques and Interiors, has already taken a week off because of the road closure and is planning on taking off in the future. He hopes the results of the construction of Louisiana Ave will be as beautiful as Napoleon Ave.

Even businesses that are not on the closed portion of Magazine St. are feeling the effects of the construction. An employee at Antiquites d’Europe agrees that the road construction is slowing down business in an already low-trafficked time period.

Unlike businesses closer to the construction, the employee said they were not notified of the road closure, “The owner didn’t know. I feel they should have least left a notice in the mailbox.”

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers assure that they notified residents and business owners of SELA projects through social media, press releases and public meetings prior to construction.

Rene Poche from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, said, “For this closure we had been in contact with business owners since the last closure in December. We emailed them monthly to let them know when we expected this closure to occur and passed out door hangers a month prior to the closure two blocks on each side of Louisiana Avenue on Magazine Street.”

Victoria VerHagan, Director of Marketing at Dat Dog, said they received a months notice through email and a letter. She was glad the construction is happening in the middle of July rather than a busier month for restaurants.

“We experience a low period anyway in the summer,” VerHagan said.

Some restaurants, like Dat Dog, are also creating special promotions to bring more customers in during the road closure.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers said that the closure is anticipated to last four weeks after beginning on July 5. However, “Constable Pete”, an officer from the New Orleans Constable’s Office stationed on the corner of Delachaise Street and Magazine Street, said he heard the construction will be completed August 17.

He mentions the upset that the residents, businesses and their customers experience throughout the lengthy construction.

He said, “They complain about the construction. They complain about street flooding. The construction is to get rid of the flooding. We are trying the best we can.”