Claiborne Avenue Alliance

New Orleans, Louisiana

Illustration of the air pollution impacts that community members experience.

Looming over the historically-rich Tremé neighborhood in New Orleans, the Riverfront Expressway section of Interstate 10 casts any ugly shadow. In the 1960s, against the wishes of the predominately African-American working class community, the hulking highway was built along the sweeping wide swath of North Claiborne Avenue. To make way for the overhead highway called “the bridge,” over 400 trees were cut down, 500 homes leveled, and thriving businesses closed. Once known for its grand oaks and azaleas, bustling arts and business scene, North Claiborne Avenue is in crisis. Neighborhoods flood from toxic highway run off, houses shake from the thundering trucks nearby, walls are covered in diesel particulate matter, and residents worry about their health living next to an urban highway.

This video was produced by the Congress for the New Urbanism and tells the history of Claiborne Avenue.

Founded in 2017 to “reclaim, restore, and rebuild” communities along the Claiborne Corridor, the Claiborne Avenue Alliance is a coalition of volunteers, residents, businesses and organizations advocating together for improved environmental, social, and public health conditions. Coalition leader Amy Stelly is a professional urban planner, but her passion for reclaiming the once vibrant neighborhood is personal.

Tactical urbanism posters prepared by the Claiborne Avenue Alliance. The Claiborne Corridor lost its identity as a vibrant and uniquely beautiful place when its broad tree canopy was bulldozed for the construction of I-10. 

“I decided as a kid I would grow up and take down the highway,” the New Orleans native said.

Her dream is to replace the crumbling highway with the wide median that existed before, along with a rebuilt St. Bernard traffic circle, augmented by green infrastructure and safe mixed-use development, specific to the community’s needs.

The Claiborne Avenue Alliance, in cooperation with the Thriving Earth Exchange, the LSU School of Public Health and Public Lab conducted a comprehensive study of the environmental and health impacts of the I-10 corridor. The

The Claiborne Avenue Alliance, in cooperation with the Thriving Earth Exchange, the LSU School of Public Health and Public Lab conducted a comprehensive study of the environmental and health impacts of the I-10 corridor. The levels of air, soil and noise pollutants were estimated or measured to occur at levels exceeding health-based standards for children, residents or workers, according to the study.

To help address food concerns in the neighborhood, CAA worked with Anthropocene Alliance to get a Kresge Foundation Covid-19 grant in order to establish a community garden.

Anthropocene Alliance has provided travel grants for CAA members to network with other grassroots advocacy groups, and recently, connected award-winning artist/photographer Kasimu Harris with CAA to chronicle the area’s plight.

In hopes of improving her community – for her community, and not outside real-estate speculators – Stelly is working on the development of a land trust. She wants a conservancy to control the median. 

“No one in government can assure people things will be equitable, and folks are definitely afraid of gentrification.”

Amy Stelly.

Written By Kerri McLean

Links

Biden Seeks to Use Infrastructure Plan to Address Racial Inequities.

Cities Want to Tear Down these Urban Highways and Biden Can Help

Urban Highway Removals Could Get Federal Help

‘The Monster’: Claiborne Avenue Before And After The Interstate | WWNO

New Orleans needs a champion | The Lens (thelensnola.org)

Claiborne Avenue – Then and Now | wwltv.com

Plan for blighted Claiborne Avenue: ill-conceived, exclusionary, lacks due diligence | The Lens (thelensnola.org)

Advocates Rally to Tear Down Highways That Bulldozed Black Neighborhoods | The Pew Charitable Trusts (pewtrusts.org)

Freeways Without Futures 2019 | CNU

Thriving Earth Exchange Project

Highways to Boulevards | CNU

Contact
Amy Stelly

Website/social media
https://www.claiborneavenuealliance.com/

Climate impacts
Flooding
Air pollution
Water contamination

Strategy
Nature-based solutions
Halting bad development
Fighting industrial contamination

501c3 tax deductible
No

Accepting donations
No

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