NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - The sounds from construction on Loyola Drive in Kenner will end Wednesday (May 15), when the road to access the brand-new Armstrong International Airport.
The $6.8 million project, which began January 2018, was needed to accommodate the capacity increase as a result of the airport expansion.
Dolores Fulton works at a Family Dollar on Veterans and Aberdeen and said Wednesday marks a welcome completion.
“We constantly have to deal with the jackhammering and stuff,” Fulton said. “Customers have complained about all the rubble all the dust. Every time we have a windstorm dust is thrown around. It’s thrown in people’s faces.”
The year-long project is ending on schedule, according to Scott Boyle, the assistant district administrator operations with Department of Transportation and Development.
“This was our way of being proactive and doing everything we could to lessen the impact of that additional traffic from the airport that was going be flowing through the Loyola corridor,” Boyle said.
Boyle said crews widened Loyola drive between Veterans Boulevard and Interstate 10. DOTD created two southbound left turn lanes in addition to the existing one. The project also added two left turn lanes from Veterans towards Aberdeen Street that will head drivers towards the new terminal.
“Anytime there’s a new change, there is a slight learning curve in just seeing and experiencing a slightly new configuration,” Boyle said.
The lanes will open the same day the North Terminal was originally set to open, but it’s delayed once again, and is now set to open in the fall.
“We made a commitment based on dates that were established about the airport,” Boyle said. “We made a commitment to have our project completed by May 15th, and it’s very important we honor our commitments.”
In a statement, Kevin Dolliole, the director of aviation for the airport expressed his appreciation for the project’s completion.
“The completion of the interim roadway project at the Loyola and Veterans intersection is a major milestone. We are grateful to DOTD for working with the City of Kenner to prioritize this project and deliver it to us on schedule,” Dolliole said.
Fulton said although she’s relieved the project is done, there was no use in complaining about it while it was going on.
“It’s one of those things where it’s like, you either have to make peace with it, or you know, cry and complain,” Fulton said. “There’s nothing you can really do but make peace.”
Boyle said they are still working on designs for a flyover interchange that would cost between $95 and $125 million dollars.
“We’re anticipating issuing a notice to proceed sometime in August of 2019 with groundbreaking and construction to begin in the spring of 2020,” Boyle said.
Dolliole added the completion of the project gives drivers time to adjust to the change ahead of the terminal’s opening.
“The public will have some extra time to get accustomed to the new route so we can be more prepared for the terminal opening," Dolliole said.
The exact date the terminal is set to open is not known, but officials said it will be sometime in the fall of 2019.