The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority broke ground in late January on a $41.5 million addition to the city's streetcar system.

Courtesy of the New Orleans Regional Transit Authority
The New Orleans Regional Transit Authority's $41.5 million addition to the city's streetcar system will add 3.2 miles of tracks on a 1.6-mile route.

The project will add 3.2 miles of tracks on a 1.6-mile route running from the base of the Central Business District to Elysian Fields Avenue.

Archer Western Construction of Chicago is the general contractor on the project and will perform 9,500 linear feet of utility relocations, asphalt and concrete pavement restoration, traffic signalization upgrades and new landscaping. The contractor will also install 3.2 miles of overhead catenary system, 192 foundations for lighting and will construct a traction power station.

A single-lane track, which will share the roadway with vehicles, will be constructed on each side of the median. Archer Western will also build streetcar stops consisting of double-sided shelters fitting the historical aspects of the corridor. Street lights and poles will be installed using refurbished and replica historic fixtures.

Martin Pospisil is Program Manager for Rail Expansion and Capital Projects at Transdev, the company which manages the operations at RTA. Because the project is being constructed at one of the city's busiest intersections, they will install rail with a new system that saves time by insulating and waterproofing rails off-site before they're installed.

"This new design of insulating the rail will really save a lot of time because they won't have to do it on-site," says Pospisil.

On July 12, the city will shut down streetcar service and part of the intersection on Canal Street for 30 days while contractors work around the clock to wrap up the intersection as quickly as possible. Other segments of the line are being constructed in a fashion to minimize traffic issues.

"We really put a lot of effort in planning on how to minimize the impact of construction on residents and businesses," he says.

Archer Western recently worked on the RTA Loyola streetcar line and has completed more than $1 billion in construction projects in the region in the past nine years.

The project is part of a $3.5 billion, long-term program that would add 33 miles worth of new streetcar lines in the city.

The Rampart line project is expected to be completed in the third quarter of 2016.