18 months after collapse, a New Orleans street reopens


NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans officials marked the return of two-way traffic to a major New Orleans thoroughfare Wednesday, more than 18 months after the partial collapse of a hotel under construction at the edge of the French Quarter killed three people and halted traffic and commerce on a section of historic Canal Street.

Canal Street separates the city’s business district from the French Quarter. With six lanes for automobiles and two sets of streetcar tracks on its broad median, it had been fully closed at its intersection with Rampart Street for more than a year since the partial collapse on Oct. 12, 2019, of a Hard Rock hotel that was under construction.

Traffic flowing toward the Mississippi River returned four months ago. At Wednesday’s news conference, Mayor LaToya Cantrell stood near the cleared site and heralded the recent return of traffic flowing away from downtown and the river, toward Lake Pontchartrain.

Three workers died in the 2019 collapse. Two of the bodies remained among the unstable remains of the building for 10 months. Demolition of the damaged building and the clearing of debris was a much-delayed process complicated by ongoing litigation, a cyber-attack on city computer systems, an active 2020 hurricane season and the coronavirus pandemic.

Much work remains in the area including street and utility repairs. Not all of the lake-bound lanes of Canal are open. A partial opening of the intersecting Rampart Street, another heavily traveled street with segments of one of the city’s newer streetcar lines, is expected next month, officials said.

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