On January 31, 2006, less than six months after Hurricane Katrina, John Shires, then Director of the Department of Public Works, issued a letter to Mr. Frederic Theodore LeClercq, President of the Newcomb Boulevard Association (“NBA"), granting “approval to proceed with the closure of the street [Newcomb Boulevard] at Freret.” Later in 2006, Newcomb residents erected a privately-funded wrought iron fence at the Freret Street end of Newcomb Boulevard. The fence blocks all traffic between Newcomb and Freret, except for pedestrian traffic on the sidewalk.
Shires issued his permit without any notice to, or consideration by, the New Orleans City Planning Commission or the New Orleans City Council. The closure was approved without attempting to implement lesser remedies, such as speed bumps, as recommended in a 2005 City-financed study by Urban Systems, Inc. The USI study did not recommend closing the street as a remedy for the residents’ complaints of cut-through traffic and speeding by university students. Nor did the USI study include a traffic impact analysis (“TIA”) to determine the effect of closing Newcomb Boulevard on other streets in the area. According to the City, such analyses are required by DPW procedures, and a TIA is certainly required under CPC Rules governing the sale and closure of public streets.
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