Project Location: LA 6-B between Rue Touline and Rue Lafayette Streets in Natchitoches, LA
The goal of the project was to reconstruct 6 blocks of a 104 year old brick street in the National Natchitoches Historic District. This is the oldest permanent settlement in Louisiana and the Louisiana Purchase territory. This district is also a National Historic District; therefore the project had to accommodate local merchants, the city of Natchitoches, the Federal Highway Administration, the National Park Service (NPS), and the State Historic Preservation Office. Unique aspects of the project include the incorporation of historic preservation activities into design, construction and construction monitoring on the project, and collaborative decision making efforts with the Mayor's Task Force.
The NEPA process took 5 years due to local historic preservation organizations and National Park Service concerns about changes to the streetscape within the historic district. The Mayor of the city formed a task force consisting of DOTD and NPS staff, merchants, and members of the local historic preservation organizations. The task force discussed issues such as compliant curb cuts, brick strength, and the use of new material to make up for deficits of existing brick during construction. A Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) was developed that included 20 stipulations. A total of 11 organizations signed the MOA as concurring parties. The National Park Service agreed to pay for Historic American Building Survey photography in order to record the brick patterns on Front Street.
Natchitoches' long history of occupation requires that the project have archeological monitoring during earth-moving construction activities and utility trench excavation. Two stipulations in the MOA specifically addressed archaeology. The contractor and the archaeologists coordinated their activities to keep the project on schedule while recording information about the historic resources located beneath the street's surface. Bricks were removed by hand prior to the initiation of construction activities; as many of the 104 year old bricks were reused when the street surface was re-laid in the same unique patterns which pre-existed. The majority of the 300,000 existing bricks (5 different sizes) were found to be either embedded in concrete or sealed by tar and were cleaned individually. ADA compliant access was added to the sidewalks by retrofitting and crosswalks were added to the street.