With an evacuation zone in place in the heart of downtown New Orleans, city officials have rerouted traffic and public transit routes around the site of the Hard Rock Hotel, which partially collapsed while under construction on Saturday, October 12.
The crash killed at least two people working on the site and injured 30. The New Orleans Advocate–Times-Picayune confirmed that rescue workers recovered the body of Anthony Magrette, while crews are still searching for Quinnyon Wimberly and Jose Ponce Arreola.
Cranes that were damaged by the crash remain on the site and are still unstable. Officials, concerned that this week’s forecasted rain and wind could impact the vulnerable construction site, have urged an evacuation from buildings facing the Uptown side of Canal Street between Burgundy Street and Elk Place as well as the area surrounded by Conti, Bienville, and Burgundy streets.
In the event that an evacuation from the immediate site is deemed necessary, a series of alarms will sound along with radio messages urging workers to evacuate, according to New Orleans Fire Department Superintendent Tim McConnell.
Here is a list of street closures still in effect:
- Conti Street remains closed from Dauphine Street to Basin Street.
- Canal Street remains closed between Elk Place and Dauphine Street.
- Dauphine Street remains closed from Common Street to Conti Street.
- Common Street remains closed from Basin Street to Dauphine Street.
Canal Street is open in both directions between the Mississippi River and Dauphine Street.
Drivers traveling lake-bound will have to use St. Charles Avenue, Magazine Street, and Tchoupitoulas Street to travel Uptown.
Expecting heavy delays and jams around the closed streets, the New Orleans Police Department is asking residents to carpool and plan early commutes to limit traffic in the area.
All riverfront streetcar service remains suspended until further notice along the entire riverfront and Rampart-St. Claude lines.
The RTA is recommending riverfront riders take the 55-Elysian Fields or the 5-Marigny-Bywater buses instead.
The Canal-Cemeteries and Canal-City Park lines will continue from Liberty Street and City Park, but all service from Liberty to the Mississippi River is suspended.
Supplemental bus service has been added to support the closed Rampart-St. Claude streetcar line and the suspended portions of the Canal lines.
The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority has temporarily relocated its downtown transit hub to the agency’s headquarters at 2817 Canal St., a move that impacts 22 bus lines.
RTA’s A. Philip Randolph headquarters has set up an Emergency Transit Center, and the building’s lobby is open to riders waiting for their bus or streetcar.
The following bus lines are now operating from the temporary transit center: 15-Freret, 28-Martin Luther King, 32-Leonidas-Treme, 39-Tulane, 51-St. Bernard-St. Anthony, 52-St. Bernard-Paris Ave., 57-Franklin, 62-Morrison Express, 63-New Orleans East Owl, 64-Lake Forest Express, 65-Read-Crowder Express, 80-Desire-Louisiana, 84-Galvez, 88-St. Claude, 91-Jackson-Esplanade, 100-Algiers Owl, 101-Algiers Point, 102-General Mayer, 106-Aurora, 114-General De Gaulle-Sullen, 115-General De Gaulle-Tullis, 202-Airport Express.
The Hard Rock Hotel development received New Orleans City Council approval in 2011, but construction didn’t begin until 2018.
In 2013, developer Praveen Kailas pleaded guilty in an unrelated case in U.S. federal court for over-billing the state’s Road Home program and was sentenced to two and a half years in prison.
Kailas Companies, which is leading the Hard Rock project at the busy and historic intersection of North Rampart and Canal streets, continued with development plans.
Demolition of the existing former Woolworth’s building—a landmark of the Civil Rights movement thanks to the lunch counter sit-ins held there in 1960—began in 2014. Following its announcement of a partnership with Hard Rock in 2018, Citadel Developers and Kailas Companies began construction on plans for an 18-floor, 350-room hotel with 62 residential units.
More than 100 workers were on site when its top floors collapsed on October 12.
The cause of the collapse is still under investigation.