07 June 2008

Louisiana State Highways: 26 to 50

LA 26

Length: 76.16 miles

Western terminus: JCT US 171/190, De Ridder

Southern terminus: JCT LA 14, Lake Arthur

Parishes: Be, Al, JD

Multilane sections: None known

Multiplexes: None known


Located in southwestern La., even-numbered LA 26 tends more north-south than east-west, and has all the appearance of a slanted “L” on the map. Its main purpose is to link De Ridder with Jennings, and passes through a few other places of note along the way. The only exciting thing about this route is that at one time in the 1930’s, the portion from Elton to De Ridder apparently served as a routing for US 190. When one thinks about it, it does seem much more logical to route US 190 along that path. Oh well.

LA 27

Length: 132.46 miles

Northern terminus: JCT US 171 & 190, De Ridder

The other terminus: JCT LA 14, Holmwood (SW of Lake Charles)

Parishes: Be, Calc, Cam, Calc

Multilane sections: From LA 108 to US 90, Sulphur

Multiplexes: LA 108, Sulphur area; LA 82, Holly Beach to Creole

Ferries: Calcasieu River @ Cameron (with LA 82)


This route has the most convoluted, crazy routing of any Louisiana SR. Though generally trending north-south (if one throws absolute direction to the wind), the path of LA 27 actually is shaped more like an inverted “J.” LA 27 has apparently always been like this, at least since the 1955 renumbering; this was not a case of growth by accretion a la LA 182 (at least that explanation makes some sense). At one time, it was even crazier, if you can believe that; from the end I have labeled above “the other terminus” it continued north and east (!) along the present routes of LA 14 (multiplexed), LA 397, 3256, 3258, and I-10 (actually the south frontage road) to end at US 165 at Iowa. A uselessly long multiplex with LA 82 in Cameron Parish only adds to this route’s weirdness. I guess the person who wrote the route description that day in 1955 was smoking crack or something.

In any case, this road is an important regional route, though the areas it passes through are in the main relatively empty, and it serves as the link from the Lake Charles area to marshy, depopulated Cameron Parish (twice over, actually, since parts of it exist on either side of the Lake Charles area – that must be very confusing). Industries line the route from Sulphur southward to the Moss Lake and Prien Lake areas.

Suggestion: Get rid of the multiplex with LA 82. Renumber the “eastern” portion from Creole to Holmwood.

Business LA 27 – Sulphur

Length: 3.73 miles

Southern terminus: JCT LA 27/108, West Lake Charles

Northern terminus: JCT US 90, Sulphur

Parishes: Calc

Multilane sections: None known

Multiplexes: None

The portion of LA 27 that runs from LA 108 north through Sulphur was designated LA 3077 until 2002 or 2003, when it was decommissioned in favor of a rerouted 27. Business LA 27 occupied the former LA 27 routing through Sulphur south of US 90; the remainder north of 90 was given over to local control. Later it was re-renumbered as LA 1256 and the north end retracted further to the I-10 interchange. I have no idea why DOTD did all this.

LA 28

Length: 80.59 miles

Western terminus: JCT LA 8 east of Leesville

Eastern terminus: JCT US 84, Archie

Parishes: Vern, Rap, Las, Cat

Multilane sections: Various sections between Leesville and Alexandria; with US 71/165, Alexandria; with I-49 and US 167 freeways, Alexandria/Pineville

Multiplexes: US 71/165, Alexandria; I-49, Alexandria; LA 1, Alexandria; US 167 freeway, Alexandria/Pineville


Due to the existence of Fort Polk, this is a major, important highway. DOTD has been falling all over itself twinning sections from Alexandria westward, due to pressure to provide an improved strategic highway link to the Army base (always fear of base closing; besides, Fort Polk is a major employer in the area). Plans are to dualize the highway east of Alex also, to provide an improved link to US 84, itself also slated for widening east to Ferriday (no east-west US highways directly serve Alexandria, US 84 is as close as one gets). In any case, this highway would be important even without Fort Polk, since it is the major east-west route passing through Alexandria and the rest of central La. To underscore its importance, LA 28 is an NHS route, in addition to its other proud accomplishments. Part of 28 around Alexandria is even freeway-grade (the portions multiplexed with US 167 and I-49).

The Alexandria area has seen a major realignment or two of LA 28 over the years. Originally it bypassed the city along MacArthur Drive on the city’s northwest side, then proceeded down Bolton Ave. to the downtown area. Later it directly entered the city from the west on Monroe Street, proceeded to Bolton Avenue/LA 1 and turned southeast, then turned northeast onto Murray Street (Bus US 165 from the 1950s-1970s), and proceeded to a defunct Red River bridge crossing. Once in Pineville, it traversed present Main Street/Bus US 165 up to Donahue Ferry Road (present LA 3100), then northeast along Donahue Ferry Road to Griffith Street (present Spur LA 3100) where it proceeded east again and merged with the present routing. In the ‘70s, LA 28 was routed further east along Bolton to the Winn/Fulton couplet, which funneled into a new Red River crossing that was the beginning (at the time) of the Alexandria-Pineville Expressway (former LA 3026, present US 167), and followed the freeway to the present split-off point. With the completion of I-49 through Alexandria in 1997, LA 28 was rerouted to its present alignment along the west portion of US 71-165/Macarthur Drive and the I-49 and US 167 freeways.

West of Alex, LA 28 apparently followed present LA 121, between the points where it crosses the present route, in Vernon and western Rapides Parishes up to at least the 1970s.

LA 29

Length: 54.19 miles

Southern terminus: JCT LA 13, Eunice

Northern terminus: JCT LA 114, Moreauville

Parishes: St L, Ev, St L, Av

Multilane sections: None known

Multiplexes: LA 95, Chataignier; LA 104; US 167 & LA 10, Ville Platte; US 71, Bunkie; LA 115, Bunkie to east (local name of Evergreen Highway); LA 107, Cottonport

This is the SR that ranked as the road with the highest rate of drivers apprehended for DWI in the entire state (just kidding).

LA 29 Spur – Ville Platte

Length: 0.13 miles

Southern terminus: JCT US 167/Main Street

Northern terminus: JCT US 167/Lasalle street

Parishes: Ev

Multilane sections: None known

LA 30

Length: 28.66 miles

Eastern terminus: JCT US 61, Gonzales

Northern terminus: LA 73, Baton Rouge

Parishes: Asc, Ibv, EBR

Multilane sections: Nicholson Drive portion in Baton Rouge

Multiplexes: None

LA 30 (aka Nicholson Drive) is a major arterial in the southern part of the Baton Rouge area, providing the most direct route between the downtown/government area and the LSU campus, and continuing southward to growing exurban areas in the city of St. Gabriel and Ascension Parish. Nominally it is an east-west route, but actually is crescent shaped and trends more north-south.

In the 1950s and early 60s, LA 30’s routing between the LSU area and St. Gabriel followed Nicholson Extension, Highland Road (old LA 42), LA 327 Spur (Gardere Lane), the present LA 327, and LA 75 along the river. At one time its northern end was far less arbitrary, extending north along a couplet of St. Phillip St./Lafayette St. (SB) and St. Louis Street/Third Street (NB), to Florida Street, thence west to terminate at a junction with US 61-190 at Florida Ave. and Margaretta Street (now N. Acadian Thruway).

LA 31

Length: 54.81 miles

Southern terminus: JCT LA 182, New Iberia

Northern terminus: JCT LA 182, Opelousas

Parishes: Iba, St M, St L

Multilane sections: None known

Multiplexes: LA 96, St. Martinville; LA 347 (twice), Arnaudville and Leonville

LA 31 serves the heart of Cajun country just east of Lafayette. Most of its length parallels Bayou Teche, and its winding route mimics the course of that waterbody. Breaux Bridge and St. Martinville are colorful towns of importance in the area that LA 31 passes through.

LA 31’s northern end was originally at US 190 in Opelousas (the old routing in town is now LA 3253). Later, it was moved to end at LA 182 via Creswell Lane. Recently, it was rerouted just to the east of I-49 to create a more direct connection; its old route was then designated LA 1244 from LA 31 to the east I-49 frontage road. This old routing was later obliterated to make room for development, specifically a relocated Evangeline Downs.

LA 32

No post-1955 numbered route in all of Louisiana has been of more mystery to this roadgeek than the decommissioned LA 32.

Decommissioned routes in the 1-191 (primary route) range are rare in La.; there are only four, potentially five, known instances – 7, 32, 166, 179, and a possible ‘SR 190’ in Hammond (presently LA 3260). Since 7 and 179 were decommissioned a mere decade or so ago (and replaced with US 371) their fates and former routings are known, and a matter of record. The fact that an LA 166 is missing from the sequence of SRs kind of gets lost between other gaps in the log present due to the existence of US 165 and US 167 in La. But the absence of an LA 32 was glaring to me. I racked my brains trying to determine if and where it existed. Finally a glance at the official route logs confirmed it – there was no longer an LA 32, its onetime existence lost to time.

Fortunately I was able to determine where it once existed. The 1955 route log describes LA 32 as extending “from a point on LA 30 at Baton Rouge to the State Capitol Building.” What that route was, precisely, I am presently unable to say, though my research and knowledge of BR-area streets leads me to surmise that it was either N. 3rd or N. 5th Street from Florida St. to the Capitol grounds, in downtown B.R. This suggests that its total length was very short. Its classification in the route log as a C route, the lowest class, also bolsters this theory.

Frankly, I think this number, because of its numeric designation implying importance, should be reused somewhere - perhaps to redesignate some part of the schizophrenic LA 27, or for some other important highway.

LA 33

Length: 44.15 miles

Western terminus: JCT US 80, Ruston

Eastern terminus: AR border N of Marion – Continues as AR 129

Parishes: Lin, Un

Multilane sections: None known

Multiplexes: LA 822, Cedarton; LA 2 & 15, Farmerville

A true northeast-southwest diagonal route, LA 33 spurs north from Ruston toward the empty wastes of northeastern Lincoln and Union parishes, encountering the city of Farmerville along the way (home to a rare SR triplex).

LA 34

Length: 85.97 miles

Southern terminus: JCT US 71, Montgomery

Northern terminus: JCT US 80, West Monroe

Parishes: Gr, Win, Jac, Ou

Multilane sections: Couplet in West Monroe

Multiplexes: LA 1228 north of Atlanta; US 167 and US 84 in Winnfield; LA 148 north of Eros

Another diagonal route which serves a broad swath of Northern Louisiana, LA 34 originates in the town of Montgomery, and travels from there in a northeast direction, meeting US 167 and US 84 in Winnfield at a major junction. From there it progresses on its trajectory to the Monroe area, terminating in the central part of West Monroe just north of the I-20 junction.

LA 35

Length: 52.24 miles

Southern terminus: JCT LA 82, Forked Island

Northern terminus: JCT US 190, Lawtell

Parishes: Verm, Ac, Lafy, St L

Multilane sections: None known

Multiplexes: LA 92 north of Kaplan; US 90, Rayne; LA 98, Rayne; LA 95, Church Point

LA 35 passes through the heart of the Acadian prairie comprising the rice belt west of Lafayette, a beautiful region which disproves the twin notions that Louisiana is an ugly state, or that it is merely all swampland or piney hills. Towns of consequence served include Rayne, Kaplan (home of country singer and wannabe politician Sammy Kershaw), and Church Point.

LA 36

Length: 19.05 miles

Western terminus: JCT LA 21, Covington

Eastern terminus: JCT LA 41, Hickory

Parishes: St T

Multilane sections: None

Multiplexes: None

The forgotten state highway of Saint Tammany Parish, LA 36 is an east-west road which parallels I-12 about five miles to its north, serving a middle, mostly rural swath of the parish that has up to now miraculously avoided the plague of suburban sprawl and development. Between the above mentioned endpoints LA 36 passes through Abita Springs, a village which has managed to retain much of its rural, backwoods feel in the face of development pressures. The state, in an attempt to be ‘trendy’ and continuing a design trend of late the results of which can be found here and there, recently installed a traffic circle at the triple intersection of LA 36, 59, and 435 in the center of the town.

The original 1955 route was much longer on the west end: from its current west terminus LA 36 followed the current LA 21 west into Covington, then current US 190 west to a junction with US 51/190 in Hammond (at the current US 190/BUS US 51 intersection). This was short lived as US 190 reclaimed its once and current route soon after.

LA 37

Length: 42.67 miles

Southern terminus: JCT Wooddale Blvd., Baton Rouge (immediately west of cloverleaf junction with US 61/190, aka Airline Highway)

Northern terminus: JCT LA 10, Greensburg

Parishes: EBR, EF, St H

Multilane sections: From west terminus to just east of Sullivan Road intersection in Central

Multiplexes: LA 64, Central; LA 63 across the Amite River

Known to drivers as Greenwell Springs Road (or for those in the know, GSR), LA 37 moves on a northeasterly trajectory from the central part of Baton Rouge out toward the new (incorporated 2004) exurban city of Central, and further onward into the rural piney barrens of Pride, Baywood, and eventually St. Helena Parish.

The BR urban section is four lanes undivided, and the section past Joor Road/LA 946 out to Sullivan Road is a wide road with sealed shoulders and features a nice green center mall (appearing quite similar to LA 39/Judge Perez Blvd. in St. Bernard Parish). In contrast, from Sullivan Road northeastward LA 37 is a narrow, twisting two lane road with a 45 MPH speed limit and lots of logging truck sharing the pavement. In St. Helena Parish the road enters hill country and becomes particularly undulating.

Pre-1955 LA 37 followed an almost exactly similar route to today’s routing (a rarity) except its terminus was near downtown BR, approaching via North Street. The sweeping ninety degree ‘right turn’ curve at Foster Drive and North Street (which I use every day to drive to work, woo hoo) is a vestige of this 1930s-era alignment.

Historically the western end of post-1955 LA 37 was located further within Baton Rouge. For most of its history LA 37 followed GSR to its west end, then turning south on Foster Drive to end at Government Street/LA 73. The original 1955 terminus was US 61-190/LA 73 at Florida Blvd. and Foster Dr., LA 73 having a different western end at the time. This portion was decommissioned in 2000 in exchange for Bluebonnet Blvd./LA 1248 being assumed into the state system. Many vestiges of state control remain on the decommissioned segment, including approach signage for intersecting state roads which are not generally found on non-state highways, and drainage grates with “L.D.H.” stamped on their faces (for Louisiana Department of Highways).

It’s fun to live on a decommissioned state highway. I wish more people in this state could.

LA 38

Length: 48.64 miles

Western terminus: JCT LA 10 west of Darlington

Eastern terminus: JCT LA 430 somewhere in the wasteland north of Franklinton

Parishes: St H, Tan, Wa

Multilane sections: None known

Multiplexes: LA 441, Easleyville; LA 450 and LA 1055, Mt. Herman

I wish so many damn routes in this state weren’t backwoods rural roads traveling from nowhere to nowhere.

LA 38 is a prime example. Traveling through mostly pine barrens on an east-west trajectory which closely parallels the LA-MS border, LA 38 serves few major destinations and passes through only one town of consequence – that spawning place of a certain pop Antichrist, Kentwood, which is about as far from Hollywood as you can get and explains much of Britney’s white trash origin/behavior.

LA 39

Length: 54.08 miles

Southern terminus: End of the World Marina @ intersection of Miss. River and Bohemia Spillway levees, Bohemia

Northern terminus: JCT I-10, New Orleans

Parishes: Pl, St B, Or

Multilane sections: From junction with Bayou Road in Poydras to north terminus

Multiplexes: LA 46, Poydras to St. Bernard community

Street names:

Plaquemines line to Poydras: St. Bernard Parkway

Poydras to St. Bernard: Bayou Road

St. Bernard to Orleans line: Judge Perez Drive

New Orleans: North Claiborne Avenue (southbound uses North Robertson Street from Mandeville Street to Poland Avenue)

The original road to Chalmette, LA 39 figures highly in the road system of St. Bernard and eastbank Plaquemines Parish. It retains a higher profile than the older road, now LA 46, in moving traffic from New Orleans into Chalmette and points east. South of Poydras, LA 39 serves the depopulated but bucolic east bank of Plaquemines Parish, following the line of the levee for the most part to its terminus at the End of the World Marina in Bohemia.

LA 39’s original alignment from New Orleans to Poydras has been truncated and altered. The original north terminus was at US 90 at Claiborne and Canal and followed North Claiborne from there to Elysian Fields, but the LA 39 designation was removed from the section of Claiborne under I-10, presumably with the completion of the elevated structure around 1968-69, the route being cut back to the point where Claiborne veers off from under I-10 at exit 237. (North Claiborne is still state road in that segment, but officially as frontage roads of I-10.) From there, the original LA 39 routing followed what is now the route of LA 46 from that road’s west terminus at the intersection of Elysian Fields and Claiborne to the Poydras community. The present North Claiborne alignment was improved over a number of years and made more viable as an alternative corridor with its downriver extension as Judge Perez Drive. This alignment became the ‘new’ LA 39 ca. 1965 after temporarily existing on the state payroll as the now-decommissioned LA 3082. (Archival photos/film footage of Hurricane Betsy’s flooding of the Lower Ninth Ward in September 1965 will show the original LA 39 signs along North Claiborne. Those same signs stood in place for years; presumably they have now washed away with the next devastation to ruin the neighborhood – Hurricane Katrina.)

LA 40

Length: 53.16 miles

Western terminus: JCT LA 43 southeast of Montpelier

Eastern terminus: JCT LA 41, Bush

Parishes: Liv, Tan, St T

Multilane sections: None

Multiplexes: LA 445 east of Loranger; LA 25, Folsom; LA 437 east of Folsom; LA 21, Bush

LA 40 traverses the empties of northern St. Tammany Parish and cuts across the center of Tangipahoa Parish. Places of consequence served include the towns of Folsom and Independence, and the community of Loranger (where a certain Carl I know lives – no, not that Carl).

LA 41

Length: 23.22 miles

Southern terminus: JCT US 11 and LA 3081, Pearl River

Northern terminus: JCT LA 21, Bush

Parishes: St T

Multilane sections: Northern end between LA 40 and LA 21

Multiplexes: None

LA 41 makes a winding path along the rural eastern tier of St. Tammany Parish, tying the Slidell area to Hickory, Talisheek, and finally intersects LA 21 at Bush, with further access from there to points north in Washington Parish.

Spur LA 41 – Pearl River

Length: 2.47 miles

Southern terminus: JCT I-59 @ exit 5A, Pearl River

Northern terminus: JCT LA 41 north of Pearl River

Parishes: St T

Multilane sections: None known

Multiplexes: None

A short and worthless spur which enters the main part of the town of Pearl River, connecting it to the northward thrusting LA 41.

LA 42

Length: 47.77 miles

Western terminus: JCT LA 30 at the LSU campus, Baton Rouge

Eastern terminus: JCT LA 22, Springfield

Parishes: EBR, Asc, Liv

Multilane sections: Western end to just east of W. Lee Drive intersection; between both intersections of LA 427, southern EBR Parish; multiplex with US 61; between southern junction of US 61 and JCT LA 73, Prairieville

Multiplexes: LA 427, southern EBR; US 61, Kleinpeter to Prairieville; LA 16, Port Vincent to French Settlement

LA 42 is a road which ranges over all roadway types: urban thoroughfare, suburban trafficway, rural highway. Commencing at Nicholson Drive/LA 30 directly adjacent to the main LSU campus, LA 42 follows Burbank Drive through most of south BR. Burbank Drive is a newer roadway which was constructed parallel to Highland Road (the original LA 42) in the 1970s, and most of which is two lanes undivided, but constructed on a four lane ROW for eventual buildout (which thank heavens, is finally happening). At Siegen Lane/LA 3246 Burbank ends and the designation reverts to Highland Road for the balance of its journey to Airline Highway/US 61. The segment of Highland from Siegen Lane to Perkins Road/LA 427 is gloriously beautiful, with many fine homes displaying their arboreal splendor, but don’t get too distracted by them because the roadway, while comfortably wide, is hilly, winding, and suboptimal overall.

LA 42 meets Airline Highway and steals a ride on its alignment, crossing Bayou Manchac into Ascension Parish and the Prairieville community, where it sets off on its own to the east through a rapidly developing exurban area. The two-laned segment between Prairieville and Port Vincent is safe from my perspective (though busy), but it has a bad reputation in this regard due to one allegedly nasty curve near Galvez that seems to carry a propensity for claiming a young life every few months or so.

At Port Vincent the road crosses the Amite River on a narrow, obsolete swing span drawbridge and enters Livingston Parish. Through the rest of Livingston Parish, LA 42 remains a winding but unremarkable rural road.

There have been two historical variants of the configuration of LA 42’s western end:

Before Burbank Drive was constructed, the LA 42 designation followed Highland Road northwestward all the way to the LSU campus, then veered west via a short road ridiculously named “Nicholson Extension” and came to its Nicholson terminus at a wye junction that has recently been reconfigured into a regular “T” intersection.

And before that time, LA 42 ended at the intersection of Highland Road and Gardere Lane (current LA 327 Spur), with LA 30 approaching from the south on Gardere and assuming its ‘second generation’ route toward LSU on Highland Road.

LA 43

Length: 44.47 miles

Southern terminus: JCT LA 42 NW of Springfield

Northern terminus: Mississippi state line – Continues as MS 568

Parishes: Liv, St H

Multilane sections: None known

Multiplexes: LA 16, Montpel

Yawn. Another boring and pine shaded hill country road serving small communities and settlements in the Florida Parishes, LA 43 provides an unremarkable but stable north-south link between the towns and communities of Springfield, Albany, Montpelier, Greensburg, Easleyville, and via its Mississippi extension, Gillsburg.

LA 44

Length: 50.10 miles

Western terminus: JCT LA 42 east of Prairieville

Eastern terminus: JCT US 61, Laplace

Parishes: Asc, St J, St JB

Multilane sections: From just south of I-10 junction in Gonzales to western terminus

Multiplexes: LA 938, Gonzales

For most of its length LA 44 serves as the east bank Mississippi River Road, from Burnside east to Laplace where it veers inland for a short distance only to terminate.

For a road of its length, naturally LA 44 displays different characteristics along the various portions of its route. Through Ascension Parish this erstwhile east-west road follows a straight due north-south alignment along a section line, slicing through the exurban mess that the once lovely Ascension prairie has become, and straight through the decrepit heart of the growing outer suburb of Gonzales. From Burnside eastward the road winds and twists with the river levee, displaying some gorgeous and picturesque scenery and serving the many fine industrial facilities which line the river in those parishes, as well as passing through the river communities of Convent, Paulina, Lutcher, Gramercy, Garyville, Reserve, and finally Laplace where it meets the exurbs again, this time of New Orleans.

LA 45

Length: 24.09 miles

Southern terminus: Junction with local road, Lafitte

Northern terminus: JCT LA 18, Marrero

Parishes: Jef

Multilane sections: From Ames Blvd. in Estelle to northern terminus

Multiplexes: With LA 3134 over Intracoastal Waterway bridge

Street names:

Lafitte to Jean Lafitte: Jean Lafitte Parkway

With LA 3134: Lafitte-Larose Highway

Crown Point to north terminus: Barataria Blvd.

This route takes on a variety of personalities along its course, similar to other roads that emanate from New Orleans only to dead end in the swamp. The northern part of LA 45 from LA 18 to the Estelle area, is a four-lane divided arterial through suburbia and is nothing special. Look for the remains of the former Belle Promenade Mall on the east side of Barataria (LA 45) just north of Lapalco. From Estelle south to the Crown Point community, it is a two-lane highway, underused and neglected, having been bypassed as the main route south by Leo Kerner Parkway (formerly Lafitte-Larose Highway – gotta love those self serving politicians, but then again the road served neither Lafitte nor Larose, since it was never constructed that far) aka LA 3134. The swamp preserve unit of Jean Lafitte National Park is accessible from this portion of road and is interesting if you like swamp tours (bring bug spray).

The route technically crosses the Intracoastal Waterway on the high-level bridge near Crown Point, but for some reason all the LA 45 trailblazers on the bridge and its approaches are (crudely) marked with “TO” above them. (The bridge also comprises the southernmost existing part of LA 3134.) I guess this is because the highways around there have been altered from the original setup with the construction of 3134, and DOTD doesn’t know how to properly handle it. The old crossing, now defunct, was west of the present bridge, at a slight but sharp southerly jog in the road that is now designated as part of LA 301 (old 45 continued south to the bridge from there).

South of the Intracoastal Waterway bridge, LA 45 becomes the major highway into the incorporated village of Jean Lafitte and the Lafitte community, with a connection to the Barataria community (LA 302). Fishing is the major activity here, though the area is slowly becoming a favored location for suburban living. The end of 45 is at an intersection with a local road in Lafitte, one block west of a right-angle turn.

LA 46

Length: 29.19 miles

Western terminus: JCT LA 39 & 3021, New Orleans

Eastern terminus: End of pavement, Shell Beach @ shore of Miss. River Gulf Outlet Canal

Parishes: Or, St B

Multilane sections: From west terminus to JCT LA 47 in Chalmette; from east JCT LA 39 near St. Bernard to JCT LA 300 at Reggio

Multiplexes: LA 39, Poydras to St. Bernard community

Street names:

New Orleans: Elysian Fields Ave., St. Claude Ave.

Arabi: St. Claude Avenue

Arabi to Poydras: St. Bernard Highway

Poydras to St Bernard: Bayou Road

This is one of my all time favorite state highways. Known for the most part as St. Claude Avenue in New Orleans and St. Bernard Highway from Arabi to Poydras, this road runs the gamut from inner-city ghetto to suburban arterial to rural backswamp highway. Since my grandparents lived in Chalmette, I got to see a lot of this road from an early age. The old Kaiser Aluminum plant was an especial favorite of my younger days; I would count the colored things in the steel sarcophagus as we drove by, and also the tank cars on the parallel rail line.

The most ironic thing about LA 46 is that today’s routing is much expanded from the original 1955 route, but comprises very little of it. Originally, LA 46 began at the present LA 39 junction in Poydras and extended east along Bayou Road (now part of LA 300) to the Reggio area, where it resumed its present course to Yscloskey. Its eastern end used to be at Old Shell Beach on the shore of Lake Borgne, until the construction of the Gulf Outlet Canal in the 1960s cut off the easternmost portion of the road; LA 46 then had to be truncated to its present end at the canal bank. Most of Bayou Road was bypassed by a new 4-lane in the 1980s; the old road had (and still has) a nasty reputation for accidents. The unbypassed portion is that multiplexed (not very well, either) with LA 39 in the Poydras area.

At one time LA 39 used to follow the present LA 46 route from Poydras into New Orleans. When Judge Perez Drive (present divided highway portion of LA 39 through St. Bernard Parish) began construction in the 60s, it was known for a time as LA 3082. As it was extended east, it took on the LA 39 designation, and LA 46 replaced or was cosigned with 39 along the St. Bernard Highway route. Judge Perez didn’t reach its final end at Bayou Road until the 1980s, apparently; for years it ended at Colonial Drive in Violet, that connector (a two-lane [one in each direction], divided residential street through a subdivision) being designated LA 3146 in the interim. (Why not LA 39?) Only with the completion of Judge Perez was 39 removed from a multiplex with 46 north of Poydras, and the transfer was complete.

LA 47

Length: 16.19 miles

Southern terminus: JCT LA 46, Chalmette

“Northern” terminus: Junction with Downman Road, New Orleans

Parishes: St B, Or

Multilane sections: Entire route

Multiplexes: I-510 (for the entire length of that route), eastern New Orleans

Street names: Paris Road from south terminus to Little Woods community in New Orleans (at ‘kink’ in route), except with I-510 multiplex (the entire length of 510 replaced a portion of Paris Road); Hayne Blvd. from Little Woods to “north” terminus

Better known as Paris Road, LA 47 serves as the sole northern outlet for an area comprising all of St. Bernard Parish and the eastbank of Plaquemines Parish. It is one of the few state routes in La. that cosigns with an interstate, and the entire length of said interstate at that. A feature of this route is the “Green” Bridge (so called because of its original color) which crosses the Intracoastal Waterway in eastern NO near the NASA Michoud facility. I-510 officially begins at the northern end of this bridge, since the bridge itself is not up to Interstate standards.

The Hayne Boulevard section through eastern New Orleans, paralleling the lakefront, is notoriously unsigned and may just as well be a local road as far as signage and the public goes. In fact signage dies out just north of the I-10/510 junction; the reassurance shield just north of that interchange is the last you will see on ‘northbound’. It is pathetic and embarrassing, to say the least; but then again, why should Hayne be a state highway, which ends at no other state road (Downman Road used to be a state maintained road, but state control was relinquished long ago)?

The segment from Chalmette northward to the Green Bridge crosses open marshland at-grade and is one of my favorite portions of Louisiana state highway. Boat launches and marine related industries make their home on this desolate and fast moving stretch. Before the 1960s, this section was a two lane road, and traffic crossed the IWCC on a pontoon bridge. The original road was located just to the west of the modern four lane highway and can be seen in places as a frontage road; in most other places it has been submerged by the rapidly advancing marsh. Most of Paris Road in eastern NO was two lanes (and densely wooded) until well into the 1980s, in fact right up to the point when construction began on I-510. The I-10/510/Paris Road interchange is much older than the current 510 freeway, anticipating the future freeway by about 30 years (I-510 opened around 1993 or whereabouts).

I-510 seems like a pointless Interstate (and probably is), and exists only because it comprises one of two surviving segments of the Dixie Freeway/I-410, a proposed southern bypass of New Orleans which would have bridged the Miss. River twice and cut through much open and essentially undevelopable wetland on the Westbank. (Hurricane Katrina, for all its horror, could have been worse – a lot worse.) The Dixie Freeway in turn was the compensation for the cancelled Riverfront Expressway/I-310. The other completed segment of the Dixie Freeway proposal is the current I-310, which has proved much more useful seeing as it actually crosses the river and connects major interstate (small ‘I’) thoroughfares.

LA 48

Length: 29.19 miles

Western terminus: JCT US 61, Norco

Eastern terminus: JCT US 61, Metairie

Parishes: St C, Jef

Multilane sections: From intersection with Williams Blvd. in Kenner to east end of US 90 multiplex @ junction of Jefferson Hwy. and Central Ave. in Jefferson

Multiplexes: US 90, foot of Huey Long Bridge to Central Avenue in Jefferson

Street names:

Norco: Apple Street

Destrehan, St. Rose: River Road

Kenner: Reverend Richard Wilson Drive (3rd Street prior to 2007)

River Ridge, Harahan, Elmwood, Jefferson (with US 90 only): Jefferson Highway

Jefferson to Metairie: Central Avenue

I spent most of my life living mere blocks from this route, so of all routes this is the one with which I have the most personal experience….

What can be said about the legendary Jefferson Highway? Other than it closely parallels the Mississippi River except at its ends, not much, really. Most of it is suburban in nature, and therefore rather boring. Large segments exist without any reassurance signage. In River Ridge there is not one LA 48 shield, and there are few others elsewhere save at major junctions.

Yet the highway mutely and diligently serves its purpose, transporting commuters to their jobs in the city and the industrial estates, soccer moms to and from play dates, housewives to the grocery and pharmacy, young people to their friends’ homes, students to school and college…I personally traveled the road under that guise for many years. Further out in Saint Charles Parish, it follows the levee through the growing exurban communities with the same resolve that it always has for hundreds of years.

The highway was originally entirely two lanes but the segment from Jefferson to Kenner at Williams Blvd. was twinned in stages through the 1950s, in tandem with the development of the area from farmland into first generation suburbia. One noticeable routing feature is the “S” curve in the old town center (or what remains of it) of Harahan, where the four lane highway makes two sharp 90 degree turns and dodges lakeward for one block before continuing its river-paralleling trajectory, passing Harahan City Hall in the process.

As a road its divided segments feature two lanes per carriageway (three lanes east of the S. Clearview Pkwy./Huey Long Bridge junction), a grassy center mall (or neutral ground as the folks in NOLA say), sealed shoulders, and open drainage ditches – a semi-rural configuration which anachronistically survives into this modern era. The last resurfacing of the divided section (minus the US 90 multiplex segment) occurred in 1991.

The two lane segment commences at Williams Blvd. in Kenner and passes through some of the oldest, Blackest, and most rundown sections of south Kenner before entering St. Charles Parish, meeting the levee, and assuming its role as the River Road.

Each end terminates at US 61/Airline Highway, meaning the road travels ‘inland’ to begin and end, and in sort of a way functions as a long loop off of Airline Highway. Central Avenue, the easternmost segment, is a two lane urban roadway which is sort of forgotten, and which the shortcut value therein is sharply reduced due to the absurdly hazardous eight track railroad grade level crossing underneath the Earhart Expressway (which LA 48 passes under without intersecting).

At one time of course Jefferson Highway was the original LA 1 (until 1955), and from 1926 to the middle 1930s comprised the routing for US 61, and later US 51 and 65, until the Airline Highway was completed through the area.

LA 49

Length: 3.90 miles

Southern terminus: JCT US 61, south Kenner

Northern terminus: Junction with Joe Yenni Blvd./44th Street, north Kenner

Parishes: Jef

Multilane sections: Entire route

Multiplexes: None

Street names: Williams Boulevard

Entirely located within the city of Kenner, this is a very busy arterial and is Kenner’s de facto main street. Also serves as the major freight connector to the airport from the east (since trucks are not allowed on Airport Access Road). It is a five lane commercial arterial from West Metairie to Veterans (four travel lanes with a center turn lane, a rarity in the NOLA area), a four lane divided residential roadway from West Metairie south to Airline, and an extremely congested six lane boulevard north of Veterans to the lake.

The portion of Williams from Airline to LA 48 was once part of LA 49, but was decommissioned in the early 1980s with then-Mayor, now Jefferson Parish President Aaron Broussard’s – sorry, the city of Kenner’s – lame-brained development of the Rivertown ‘historic district’ which involved heavy modifications to the road, eliminating its state standard quality, so that part of it is now an extremely narrow and slow moving two lane street with a concrete median strip and decorative lighting.

LA 50

Length: 0.85 miles

Southern terminus: JCT LA 48, St. Rose

Northern terminus: JCT US 61, St. Rose

Parishes: St C

Multilane sections: None

Multiplexes: None

Street names: Almedia Road

Though short, this road is an important connector between US 61/Airline Highway and LA 48, serving the St. Rose community just west of Kenner.