Construction on Severn Avenue near Lakeside Mall in Metairie is finally coming to an end.
By the end of Monday, all traffic lanes between West Esplanade Avenue and Veterans Memorial Boulevard should be open and clear of traffic cones, according to Jefferson Parish Director of Public Works Mark Drewes.
Completion comes just in time for the start of the busy holiday shopping season.
The multimillion-dollar project, which involved tearing up pavement and installing six-foot-wide drainage pipes, began in June 2020 and was due to be completed in September 2021.
But a series of unexpected setbacks, including two hurricanes, a labor shortage and supply chain issues, delayed its completion. Meanwhile, businesses along the busy thoroughfare have suffered.
“This has pissed off and hurt a lot of businesses,” said Tommy Cvitanovich, owner of Drago’s Seafood Restaurant and chairman of the Metairie Business Development District. “Should someone be fired? Absolutely.”
Here’s when Severn Avenue is due to reopen and why it’s taken so long
With the delays, the cost of the project went from $11.6 million to about $14 million, Drewes said. The parish government is responsible for 20% of this, with the federal government covering the rest.
“This project, it was an inconvenience, obviously,” Drewes said.
Still, he called the final product a “first class road” and a “vast improvement” that should last 20 to 25 years with minimal maintenance.
“It’s not just aesthetically pleasing, but there’s now drainage that will prevent Severn from flooding, which is a significant improvement,” Drewes said.
Jennifer Van Vrancken, a member of the Jefferson Parish Council, whose district includes the area, said a number of constituents questioned the addition of bike lanes in the hallway.
In order to qualify for federal funding, the parish had to include housing for cyclists, she explained.
Cvitanovich, for his part, said the bike lanes don’t make sense.
“I think it’s the most ridiculous thing in the world to have a bike lane that’s only a third of a mile long,” he said, adding that the only thing that separates cyclists from traffic are the cement bumpers, on which the cars are already driving.
The proposal left artist Kyle Nugent “bursting with excitement”.