Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Bike path along Lake Pontchartrain in Metairie (LA) open during levee construction


       UPDATE:  Since the post below was written, the road over the levee from Hammond Highway in Bucktown to the lake side of the levee has been paved.  It appears that the only gravel stretches on the path are the two graveled accesses over the levee where the bike path runs under the Causeway.  However construction continues and gates blocking the path to permit construction equipment to be moved could be closed without warning.

       The ten-mile long levee in Metairie (LA) along Lake Pontchartrain is being lifted (raised).  The construction has had only a minor effect on access to the paved path used by cyclists, runners and walkers between the levee and the lake.  The path, actually the maintenance road for the levee, is open from its eastern terminus at Bucktown to the western end at the edge of Kenner as it was before construction began.
          But because all crossings over the levee are now coarse, chunky loose gravel (except for the crossings at the Bonnabel Ave. and Williams Blvd. which are still asphalt) bikers with bikes equipped with skinny tires might want to walk over these stretches.  This is no small sacrifice especially if walking wearing bike shoes with Look-style cleats protruding from the soles.
           Other than the gravel crossing aggravation, the ten mile path is still a nice ride.   The berm between the lake and the levee--a flat, treeless, grassy plain through which the trail runs--looks to be less than 100 yards wide.   (At the Kenner end, the path takes a sharp left turn running along a high concrete levee wall at the back of a subdivision for two miles.  This is normally open to recreational use but the day I rode the path to the end in Kenner a gate closed off this section.)
            There are subdivisions almost the entire way from Bucktown (just across the parish line from New Orleans) to Kenner but they are screened from view by the levee, with only the leafy tops of tall trees and the roofs of the taller houses showing to path users.  To be savored during the ride is the lack of traffic noise, or any noise except for the rush of wind in your ears and the hum of your tires as you spin along feeling surprisingly apart from one of the most congested cluster of people in the state just a few yards away.
As the Lake Pontchartrain bike path crosses over the levee to go under the Causeway, on the levee the path is gravel.  The appears the be the only current stretch of gravel on the 10-mile path but the levees are still under construction and there are several gates along the path that may or may not be open permitting use of the path depending on the construction that day.