The City of New Orleans provided an update on the work underway since May 2020 to explore pedestrian-centric approaches that will draw locals and tourists to the French Quarter. Mayor LaToya Cantrell recognized that the COVID-19 pandemic accelerated an opportunity for practical recovery planning that contemplates safety, equity, connectivity and efficiency and has the potential to result in a reimagined French Quarter.
“There are so many reasons why this is the best direction for the French Quarter, which is really the heart of our city. In terms of the environmental and social impacts, fewer cars means a reduction of air and noise pollution, it means more people walking and bicycling, and it opens up opportunities to introduce street furniture and landscaping – all things that can help to create a healthier lifestyle and environment while preserving the cultural fabric of the neighborhood,” said Mayor Cantrell. “I feel strongly that if done properly, creatively and in concert with anyone who wishes to participate in the process, prioritizing pedestrians is an effective and low-cost way to rejuvenate the French Quarter and promote livability in New Orleans more broadly.”
Mayor Cantrell tasked an internal team to begin the process of understanding how other cities around the globe are prioritizing pedestrians and developing pedestrianization concepts for the French Quarter, with the subsequent goals in mind:
The study area boundaries also include a stretch of Frenchmen Street in the adjacent Faubourg Marigny neighborhood. View initial concepts here.
The City’s Pedestrianization Team is comprised of the following departments: Chief Administrative Office, Vieux Carré Commission, French Market Corporation, Health Department, Department of Public Works, Mayor’s Office of Transportation, New Orleans Police Department, New Orleans Fire Department, Emergency Medical Services, New Orleans Homeland Security and Emergency Preparedness, Office of Community Development, Sanitation, Parks & Parkways, Safety & Permits, Mayor’s Neighborhood Engagement Office, Mayor’s Office of Communications, Intergovernmental Relations, Regional Transit Authority, City Planning Commission, Mayor’s Office of Utilities, and ADA Administration.
The City and District C Councilmember Kristin Gisleson Palmer launched an External Pedestrianization Team made up of French Quarter leaders to run in parallel with the City’s Pedestrianization Team, discuss pedestrianization approaches, and provide feedback and guidance on initial concepts.
“I’ve long believed that the status quo in the French Quarter is untenable, and a reduction of the car and truck traffic could improve the quality of life for residents while making a more sustainable setting for visitors. I recognized that such a project needed the input of key stakeholders early on, which is why I convened a working group of French Quarter residents and business owners who have been providing feedback to the administration’s team on a weekly basis. I look forward to further engaging with the public on the possibility of a safer, cleaner, more pedestrian-friendly French Quarter,” said Councilmember Palmer.
As part of this process, the internal and external pedestrianization teams identified a number of constraints to consider as part of the design process. These are issues that must be addressed in order to successfully implement any one or more of the concepts under development: ongoing and upcoming construction, operations of existing Royal and Bourbon pedestrian malls, street and sidewalk widths, parking, existing curb use designations, Accessibility (ADA), sanitation operations, pavement quality, delivery operations, zoning, safety/security, and workforce, to name a few.
The City will ensure that an inclusive and transparent co-design process is at the foundation of pedestrianization efforts. Earlier this month, a survey was conducted to gather some initial data about how people use the French Quarter, their top concerns, pedestrianization approaches, etc. In two weeks, there were 2,024 responses and the analysis highlights are as follows:
The data and analysis are being used to refine the design concepts that are under development. View summary results here.
The City plans to host a series of co-design charettes in fall 2020, during which representatives from the tiger team will work alongside stakeholders to ensure that final designs meet the needs of the users. Information regarding dates and times for co-design charettes will be posted on the French Quarter Pedestrianization Web Page.
Questions and/or comments about French Quarter Pedestrianization are encouraged and can be submitted anytime here.
Timeline and Next Steps