The Maroon

Harahan residents respond to airport expansion construction

Trucks+have+been+hauling+sand+from+behind+the+levee+in+Harahan+to+Kenner+as+part+of+the+airport+expansion+project.+As+a+result%2C+residents+have+dealt+with+sand+covering+their+homes+and+vehicles.+Photo+credit%3A+Anthony+Alongi
Trucks have been hauling sand from behind the levee in Harahan to Kenner as part of the airport expansion project. As a result, residents have dealt with sand covering their homes and vehicles. Photo credit: Anthony Alongi

Trucks have been hauling sand from behind the levee in Harahan to Kenner as part of the airport expansion project. As a result, residents have dealt with sand covering their homes and vehicles. Photo credit: Anthony Alongi

Trucks have been hauling sand from behind the levee in Harahan to Kenner as part of the airport expansion project. As a result, residents have dealt with sand covering their homes and vehicles. Photo credit: Anthony Alongi

Anthony Alongi

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Harahan residents living along River Road aren’t getting much sleep these days with all the noise going on behind the levee.

That noise is the result of work being done late into the night as part of the airport expansion project at Louis Armstrong International Airport. Large trucks are filling up with sand and hauling it to the airport to act as landfill. Residents say it has been going on since early last year and has interrupted their quality of life in the neighborhood.

Vincent Adams, who lives on a nearby street, said that the night time disturbances sometimes makes it hard to get to sleep.

“I mean, it’s loud. Sometimes it’s like 8 or 9 p.m., and they’re still back there doing stuff. Which, they got stuff to do, that’s fine. But they got to do it at night? I’m up at 4 a.m. for work, and it can get aggravating, yeah. This is a neighborhood,” Adams said.

According to Adams, the construction has stopped for the last week or so but that it likely doesn’t mean that it won’t start up again.

“It’ll stop and start and stop and start with these small breaks. So I’m not counting on it,” Adams said.

The noise isn’t the only complaint that residents have about the work being done. A common gripe among residents is all the sand that is being spread throughout the neighborhood by uncovered trucks hauling sand from behind the levee. Residents, such as Lena Chevalier, said that the sand sometimes makes its way into their houses and yards, and the large trucks used to carry the sand rattle their property.

“My whole house vibrates when they roll pass the street,” Chevalier said.

Chevalier, who moved to Harahan over 15 years ago, said she has never had to deal with anything
like this.

“I’m not a complainer, but this isn’t a place where this happens. Harahan has always been really quiet, and that’s what I’m used to,” Chevalier said.

She said that the sand constantly making its way into her yard has prevented her from going outside and sitting on her porch, an activity that she looks forward to.

“I mostly stay at home on the weekdays, and I like to sit outside. Hopefully, something happens, so I don’t have to worry about getting sand in my face anymore,” Chevalier said.

Actions have been taken by residents to address the issues that they have had to deal with from airport expansion work.

Residents started passing out flyers to encourage them to call city hall with their complaints. So far, there have been more than 150 statements of complaints.

Charlie and Daphne Wassamire, who own a house directly next to the levee, said that the city is not enforcing its policies.

“There are noise ordinances in this city that are being ignored. There are air ordinances in this city that are being ignored. They want to do all this work at night, so they can get back and forth to the airport at night without any traffic slowing them down,” Charlie
Wassamire said.

Chasse Roth, who recently moved from his home near the levee in Harahan, said that the negligent circumstances from the levee work factored into his decision to leave.

“I didn’t move because of any of that necessarily. But I didn’t like what was going on around there. I had to sweep and mop sand all the time because it would get through my screens. Felt like I was living on the beach almost,” Roth said.

Roth said that he attempted to contact the Department of Environmental Quality multiple times but that nothing was being done
about it.

“I’ve left messages, and I even got them on the phone and made complaints. If I didn’t have a life I suppose I could call them all day,”
Roth said.

Roth said that the street is cleaned weekly to clear sand away but that it doesn’t do much to get the sand off of people’s homes. Roth also said that pressure washing had become a common practice among residents in the neighborhood.

“If they would push the road back more towards the river and covered the trucks with the sand that would take care of the sand. They work too close to the road, and you can hear everything. Some of it is an easy fix,” Daphne Wassamire said.

Some residents were able to speak to Harahan city council members at a meeting last year and received some vocal support for their cause, but so far nothing has happened.

“It’s an ongoing problem there right now, and I hope it’s taken care of soon. I have a lot of friends in that area all the way down the levee,” said Roth.“All they want is some peace and quiet around there.”

The Department of Environmental Quality could not be reached
for comment.

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Harahan residents respond to airport expansion construction