The Maroon

Jefferson and Freret intersection closes again — this time for three months

Construction+continues+along+Jefferson+Avenue+in+Uptown+New+Orleans.+The+intersection+of+Jefferson+Avenue+and+Freret+Street+is+expected+to+be+closed+for+the+next+three+months.+Photo+credit%3A+Katelyn+Fecteau
Construction continues along Jefferson Avenue in Uptown New Orleans. The intersection of Jefferson Avenue and Freret Street is expected to be closed for the next three months. Photo credit: Katelyn Fecteau

Construction continues along Jefferson Avenue in Uptown New Orleans. The intersection of Jefferson Avenue and Freret Street is expected to be closed for the next three months. Photo credit: Katelyn Fecteau

Construction continues along Jefferson Avenue in Uptown New Orleans. The intersection of Jefferson Avenue and Freret Street is expected to be closed for the next three months. Photo credit: Katelyn Fecteau

Melody Bigelow

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For students like Joseph Sweet, the stress of going back to classes is not the only challenge for the upcoming school year. Over the next three months, students, residents and business owners will face difficulties as road work on Jefferson Avenue continues. Living there, Sweet has adapted to the controversial construction.

The road construction on Jefferson Avenue, part of the Southeastern Louisiana Drainage program, has been going on for the past five years. During the last 24 months, construction has reached the Freret intersection. Although the Southeastern Louisiana Drainage program is focused on long-term benefits, the execution of the project is causing headaches for those in the community.

“You have to park your car blocks away from your house, and in New Orleans, you hope it will still be there in the morning,” Sweet said.

While many students may just open their front door and walk to the sidewalk, Sweet has to climb through the chain link fences that surround his home. The construction on Jefferson Avenue has altered the way residents leave their home, park their cars and even get packages delivered.

“It’s like I’m trapped,” Jessica Greenwood, a resident nearby to the construction, said.

Due to the construction, Greenwood has to take a detour on her drive to work. Instead of driving straight to Claiborne Avenue, Greenwood takes Freret Street to Napoleon Avenue and then drives to her job in Mid City.

Like residents, business owners on Freret Street are also dealing with impacts from the road closure. Restaurants like Liberty Cheesesteaks are experiencing a decline in customers coming from the university area, though they did report an increase in delivery orders.

“It was pretty slow during the school year because that whole area was blocked off, and then they unblocked it and we got a huge influx of customers, and then they blocked it off again and now it’s slow again,” Stephan Belle, manager at Liberty Cheesesteaks, said.

The road development on Jefferson Avenue is part of a city-wide construction project. Although the project is currently an obstacle in the community, its main goal is to improve the city’s flood relief system.

The project was started after substantial flooding in May 1995 claimed seven lives and flooded 35,000 homes. Currently, the Southeastern Louisiana Drainage program is taking place in Orleans and Jefferson Parishes while the funding for St. Tammany has not yet been allocated. Of the 20 funded projects in Orleans Parish, 13 are completed, while Jefferson Parish has 53 of 59 finished.

Jefferson Avenue and the Freret Street intersection is set to be closed for three months. Sweet has a different expectation on how long it will take.

“I think it’ll take longer, maybe five months as opposed to three,” Sweet said.

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Jefferson and Freret intersection closes again — this time for three months