Archive for May, 2005


New Orleans Underground?


While the organized crime undercurrent of New Orleans is often publicized in the world news of late, another fact is rarely brought to light. Since the founding of the city, much of it has sunk lower than sea level, and has become a great deal like the Batavian Kingdom.

In a move to protect the historical treasures of this city, New Orleans Mayor, Anatole Desse, has garnered the support of the Département and the Préfecture to take steps.

Rather than building new and enormous dikes, a secondary solution is taken: Raise the ground level. In a bold move, Anatole Desse and the city fathers are proposing a construction such that ground level in the Quartier Français and the Vielle Ville is raised up one story, bringing ground level to 1 or 2 feet above sea-level.

This plan will be implemented in stages, beginning with the Vielle Ville and the Quartier Français. Construction will begin in the next (republican) year, and is expected to complete in the next 10 years.

There will be a vibrant underground community, with broad pedestrian streets while traffic goes overhead. In the outlying regions, where the difference is not so much, shop owners will have either steps up or down into their shops to meet the new street level.

This has raised some concern among the business sector, and the private sector as well. Most noteable in his defiance is Eugène Colère. “Levees have protected this city for years and years. This construction is a waste of public time, money and patience. Build stronger, larger levees. We don’t have furocanos that often!”

Others in the Quartier Français disagree with M. Colère. Yvette Delacroix spoke candidly, “M. Colère wants nothing to change in the area. He’s afraid that having his second floor become the first floor, bringing it that much closer to the rez-de-chaussée, and exposing his questionable business practices. I think that it’s wise for Nouvelle Orléans to think of its future, to put a final solution to the flooding that’s plagued us for so long.”

Plans call for rolling one-way streets as streets are built up to the new level. For landmarks, such as the numerous Catholic churches, protective high-walled plazas will be built, giving additional protection to these beautiful landmarks.

This construction is expected to cost in the total of 3 billion Ecus over the next 10 years, mostly funded from an increased tax structure and a higher allocation of Port Authority fees.