Background: The New Orleans Regional Planning Commission is the government metropolitan planning organization (MPO) that provides both long-range and short-term transportation planning for the New Orleans urbanized area. The New Orleans Urbanized Area Metropolitan Transportation Plan 2044 (January 2015) represents the principal transportation long-range planning document for the New Orleans urbanized area. Short-term planning is represented by the MPO’s Transportation Improvement Program (TIP). The MPO amended TIP FY 2015 on December 8, 2015, to include the Florida Avenue Expressway project.
The Florida Avenue corridor has been under study since 1967. A 1985 environmental assessment (EA) proposed a fixed bridge be built across the Inner Harbor Navigation Canal (IHNC). In 1989, the Louisiana Legislature created the Transportation Infrastructure Model for Economic Development program, and the Florida Avenue Bridge was originally included in this program. However, the bridge was later placed on hold by the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development (LADOTD) due to the need for further studies and environmental concerns surrounding the project. A second EA was conducted in 2007 with the U.S. Coast Guard as the lead federal agency. However, due to budget deficiencies, LADOTD recommended a Stage 0 study be completed to identify potential cost-saving opportunities. The Stage 0 study was completed in 2013, and the scope has increased to include improving and extending Florida Avenue as well as a new bridge over the INHC adjacent to the existing Florida Avenue Bridge (Latitude 29.980764, Longitude: -90.022031).
Purpose and Need for Project: The purpose of the project is to provide a reliable Florida Avenue connection from Elysian Fields Avenue to Paris Road, provide an optimal north-south connection from Florida Avenue to the Port of St. Bernard, and build a new roadway bridge over the IHNC adjacent to the existing Florida Avenue Bridge. The primary need for this project is improved connectivity between major roadways and interstate routes that will facilitate the movement of goods within the New Orleans metropolitan area and provide reliable vehicular crossing over the IHNC.
Study Area: The study area is located from north of existing Florida Avenue south to St. Claude Avenue/W. St. Bernard Highway and from the west at Elysian Fields Avenue east to Paris Road.
The EA will involve investigating the potential for effects to cultural resources, threatened and endangered species, natural resources, and the human environment within the study area. The proposed project includes improvement to existing roadways and design of new alignment segments following LADOTD design criteria.
**Please see comment form below. Comments from the first Public Meeting will be accepted if postmarked or emailed prior to September 28, 2016. Please email comments to FloridaAveEA@gmail.com or submit by mail to Florida Avenue Project, P.O. Box 56845, New Orleans, LA 70156.