The future of Claiborne Avenue, New Orleans

On December 6, more than 120 New Orleans residents attended “Local Street Networks and the Future of Claiborne Avenue.”  The event presented research and reflections from both local and national experts that helped residents understand the impact of — and sparked renewed interest in — removing I-10 from New Orleans’ urban fabric. CNU and the Claiborne Corridor Improvement Coalition issued a preliminary study last year that discussed alternative visions for the corridor, particularly as an urban boulevard option in lieu of the elevated highway. Although the City of New Orleans received TIGER II funds ten months ago for a transportation study on the Claiborne Corridor, it has yet to release its request for proposals. The Coalition’s event sought to encourage momentum on the progress already made.

Councilmember Kristin Palmer and CNU President & CEO John Norquist kicked off the evening  speaking about their local and national experiences with elevated highways.  Next, John Renne from University of New Orleans presented on his students’ research and community survey based around a potential teardown project.  Also at the event, Jonathan Tate’s students from Tulane University presented architectural renderings that showed the many possibilities for the Claiborne Corridor. 

Addressing concerns

The featured speaker was Eric Dumbaugh, professor and program coordinator for the Master’s of Urban and Regional Planning at Florida Atlantic University who has also contributed to CNU’s work in Designing Walkable Urban Thoroughfares. The national street design expert delivered a lecture that outlined common transportation arguments  against highway removal projects. Dumbaugh’s presentation successfully addressed many questions about traffic flow impacts on the street grid, congestion concerns, and pedestrian safety. Dumbaugh’s speech opened up a dialogue  among community members present and stoked a  debate about creating a livable, sustainable urban environment.

The evening ended with comments from Bill Gilchrist, Director of Place-based Planning in the Office of Mayor Mitch Landrieu. Gilchrist reaffirmed the city’s commitment to the Claiborne Avenue community and updated the audience on the current progress of the City’s TIGER II grant.  The City intends to release a request for proposals for professional services to assist the City in a transportation study within the next several weeks.  

CNU and the Claiborne Corridor Improvement Coalition organized the event, with support from the Ford Foundation, the Greater New Orleans Foundation, the Louisiana Endowment for the Humanities, Tulane University’s School of Architecture, and the University of New Orleans’ Merritt C. Becker Jr. Transportation Institute.  If you have questions about this event series or would like more information about Highways-to-Boulevards in New Orleans, please contact CNU Program Manager Caitlin Ghoshal at cghoshal@cnu.org.

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