24 June 2008

Louisiana State Highways: LA 51 to LA 75

LA 51: See the entry for US 51, which is implied LA 51.

LA 52

Length: 2.73 miles
Southern terminus: JCT US 90, Boutte
Northern terminus: JCT LA 18, Luling
Parishes: St C
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: None
Street names: Paul Mallard Road

This surface road sees less relevance now that I-310 exists to the west. In its day, though, it connected US 90 at Boutte to the Mississippi River ferry crossing at Luling. The completion of the Hale Boggs Bridge in 1983, in the wake of a ferry/barge collision in 1978 that killed many people, rendered this route less important in the scheme of things. In an even earlier period (pre-1950s), LA 52 served as the route for US 90 in the area. (See History of US 90 for details.)

LA 53

Length: 1.64 miles
Southern terminus: JCT LA 44, Reserve
Northern terminus: JCT US 61, Reserve
Parishes: St JB
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: None
Street names: ??

Serves the exurban community of Reserve. The southern terminus is adjacent to the eastbank landing for the Edgard-Reserve ferry.

LA 54

Length: 2.33 miles (??)
Southern terminus: JCT LA 44, Garyville
Northern terminus: JCT US 61, Garyville
Parishes: St JB
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: None
Street names: ??
Serves the community of Garyville. Along with LA 53, its existence is short and sweet.

Most of the road has been rerouted onto a newer, more modern alignment in recent years, bypassing to the west the more urbanized alignment through Garyville center.

LA 55

Length: 14.21 miles
Southern terminus: End of road, south of Montegut
Northern terminus: JCT LA 24, Bourg
Parishes: Ter
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: None

Comprises a spur south from Bourg (in the Houma vicinity) to Montegut and more small fishing camps south of there, moving southward until the road dies in the marsh.

LA 56

Length: 25.46 miles
Southern terminus: Dead end at a marina parking lot, Cocodrie
Northern terminus: JCT LA 24 south of Houma
Parishes: Ter
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: None

This road comprises a spur southward from Houma to every Louisiana sportsman’s favorite fishing hole, Cocodrie. Cocodrie is not a true bayou community such as the others (Montegut, Chauvin) one drives through to reach it, but is really a collection of fishing camps which are occupied maybe two months out of the year, accompanied by a goodly number of marinas and boat launches.

LA 57
Length: 24.33 miles
Southern terminus: JCT LA 56, Cocodrie
Northern terminus: JCT LA 24, Houma
Parishes: Ter
Multilane sections: Within Houma
Multiplexes: None
Street names: ??

This is yet another one of the various similarly numbered state roads which radiate from the Houma conurbation southward into the Terrebonne marshes, following fingers of land formed by bayous and linking the small communities along the way. For most of its length LA 57 performs this task, traveling southward from Houma along the crest of the natural levee to the small fishing community of Dulac, where it intersects LA 3011 which comprises a spur to that community proper.

Logically the route would end there. But LA 57 then does something entirely different. Leaving the safety of the finger of relatively high ground through a barren, densely wooded area, it bursts into the forbidding marshland and blazes a novel and very twisting path directly through the flat grassy gulf of marsh which separates the various fingers from normally interacting with each other. Open water and marsh grass surrounds the narrow road as oil drilling rigs can be spied when looking in the direction of the Gulf, and the low line of fishing camps can be ascertained along the finger of land in the distance which terminates at Cocodrie. A traveler feels as he is traveling on a boat more than a vehicle as he drives along one of the most dramatic and fleeting expanses of state highway in Louisiana.

I rate this road as one of the state’s top ten drives by far.

LA 58

Length: 1.59 miles
Western terminus: JCT LA 56, Montegut
Eastern terminus: JCT LA 55, Montegut
Parishes: Ter
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: None

LA 58 comprises a short connecting road which links two parallel north-south routes in the Montegut vicinity. A pleasant and bucolic, if short, drive through farmland.

LA 59

Length: 11.75 miles
Southern terminus: JCT US 190 and LA 1087, Mandeville
Northern terminus: JCT LA 21 north of Abita Springs
Parishes: St T
Multilane sections: Center turning lane from south terminus to Abita Springs (?)
Multiplexes: LA 36, Abita Springs
Street names: Gerard Street, Mandeville to JCT LA 1088

The main highway between Mandeville and Abita Springs; presently located in a favored growth corridor, LA 59 has seen increased traffic loads in recent years. An addition of a center turn lane has helped somewhat, but businesses will continue to find favor with this route as a prime location. If LaDOTD doesn’t acquire enough land soon for four to six lanes, it won’t look pretty a decade hence.

This route designation is located perilously close to I-59. (The Interstate came later.) A sign (for those idiots who can’t distinguish between different types of highway shields) at the EB I-12 off-ramp for the LA 59 exit denotes that I-59 is further ahead on I-12 and not accessible at that location.

LA 60

Length: 15.98 miles
Western terminus: JCT LA 16, Enon
Eastern terminus: JCT LA 10, Bogalusa
Parishes: Wa
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: None

I have always wondered why this road merited a two digit state highway designation, since it doesn’t directly connect two locations of importance. Sure, one end is in Bogalusa but it doesn’t meet anyplace of consequence as one moves west. Yet the state considers it a major collector road for some reason so maybe that is sufficient. I sense the political influence of the late longtime state senator BB “Sixty” Rayburn here…

Anyway, for the most part this road is boring, a standard hill country pine barrens highway, save the urban Bogalusa segment. Now it gets interesting. In Bogalusa as LA 60 approaches from the southwest and winds through the street grid, it makes seven – count them, seven – sharp and annoying 90 degree turns along the narrow and decrepit streets. What a wonderful and direct through route this is!

Bogalusa, by the way, is the city that time forgot, bypassed by the Interstate and even the US highway system, its economy in thrall to the huge paper mill which dominates the skyline. But lo, it is home to the only Hardee’s location that I am aware of in Louisiana – though from the looks of it, I did not gain much confidence that it would please my palate.

LA 61: See the US 61 entry, as US 61 is implied LA 61.

LA 62

Length: 11.88 miles
Southern terminus: JCT LA 10, Sheridan
Northern terminus: Mississippi state line north of State Line – Continues as local road
Parishes: Wa
Multilane sections: None (are you kidding?)
Multiplexes: LA 438, State Line

This is the second of the low-numbered, yet very unimportant state highways in Washington Parish in the 6x range. In this case, there is not even the saving grace of terminating in a city or town. The road simply begins at a random point on LA 10 between Franklinton and Bogalusa, travels north on a substandard roadway through piney wasteland, and degenerates into a narrow county road at the state line (underscoring its uselessness as a state highway). Communities served include Pine and State Line, but they are little more than clusters of rural dwellings centered on the intersections with the other useless state highways hanging about.

LA 63

Length: 52.96 miles
Southern terminus: JCT LA 444, Verdun
Northern terminus: JCT LA 67, Clinton
Parishes: Liv, St H, EF
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: US 190, Livingston; LA 16, Watson to Pine Grove; LA 37 across the Amite River

LA 63 skirts the edges of the Baton Rouge area but up to now remains a rural highway, linking Livingston Parish with the scenic Felicianas (though rather indirectly). The basic route is a northwest trajectory from central Livingston Parish toward Clinton in East Feliciana Parish, and travels through farmland and woodland.

The major kink in the route is due to the lack of the highway having its own bridge across the Amite River, and the consequence that LA 63 must hitch rides on other state highways to complete the movement. This increases the required distance substantially.

BTW, there is now a US 63 in Louisiana, but its route in the state is entirely co-signed with US 167 and thus has no official existence on its own. Therefore “63” is the only number duplicated in the field (but not officially) as a state highway and US highway in La. Thanx, AHTD and ASSHTO – I mean AASHTO.

LA 64

Length: 22.74 miles
Western terminus: JCT US 61, Port Hudson
Eastern terminus: JCT LA 16 and LA 1026, Watson
Parishes: EBR, Liv
Multilane sections: LA 964 to LA 67, Zachary
Multiplexes: LA 1209, Zachary; LA 37, Central; LA 409, Pride
Street names (in EBR Parish, from W to E): Mount Pleasant-Zachary Road, Church Street, High Street, Main Street, Zachary-Deerford Road, Greenwell Springs-Port Hudson Road, Liberty Road, Greenwell Springs Road, Magnolia Bridge Road

Skirting the northern extents of the Baton Rouge metropolitan area, LA 64 remains to this day a largely rural road blazing a trail through the delightfully scenic northern tier of East Baton Rouge Parish. There is a substantial urbanized section through the growing bedroom community of Zachary, following Main and Church Streets. Toward the east end of the route there is a lengthy multiplex with LA 37.

The crossing of the Amite River (“Magnolia Bridge”) into the growing Watson exurban area is heavily used and will likely require improvements in the future. Being only one of three EBR-Livingston crossings, it is already a busy thoroughfare and serves as a shortcut for commuters attempting to avoid the traffic chaos that is I-12 and LA 3002/Range Avenue through Denham Springs.

LA 65: See US 65 entry. US 65 is implied LA 65.

LA 66

Length: 20.00 miles
Southern terminus: JCT US 61, Bains
Northern terminus: Main gate to Louisiana State Penitentiary
Parishes: WF
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: None

LA 66 could be known as “the last mile” since it provides the last road trip that many will make – permanent guests at the institution which this road serves. The main purpose of LA 66 is to provide access to Louisiana State Penitentiary, commonly known as Angola. In any case, it is a lonely drive through piney woods, and provides a pleasant route not only for the condemned, but for the thousands of prison workers (the prison is central to the area’s economy) and tourists (yes, Angola is a tourist attraction, between the prison museum and the semi-annual prison rodeo) who visit daily.

LA 67

Length: 43.66 miles
Southern terminus: JCT LA 73, Baton Rouge
Northern terminus: Mississippi state line – Continues as MS 569
Parishes: EBR, EF
Multilane sections: From southern terminus to just north of Groom Road intersection in Baker; from south of LA 63 junction to LA 10 junction in Clinton
Multiplexes: LA 10, Clinton
Street names: 22nd Street (Baton Rouge), Plank Road (Baton Rouge to Clinton)
The legendary Plank Road comprises the major portion of this important state road, which commences at Government Street in inner city Baton Rouge and angles northeasterly, straight as an arrow, to the northern suburbs of Baker and Zachary (skirting their eastern edges) and finally Clinton, quintessential antebellum town of the Felicianas. From then on it makes a lonely trek to its final terminus at the state line.

The section in north Baton Rouge has been largely bypassed by I-110 and thus is of use primarily to local traffic. North BR is an older and mostly run down part of the city which betrays its working class origins. Attractions include Tony’s Seafood, a BR legend located at 5215 Plank Road, across from St. Gerard Majella Church. Interstate traffic wishing to reach Plank Road for points north should exit at Harding Blvd./LA 408.

Continuing north, LA 67/Plank Road skirts the eastern edge of BR Metropolitan Airport. In the near future the road will be realigned to the east in this area to make room for an extended airport runway.

North of Baker and up to Clinton LA 67 passes through drastically wooded terrain and is a wide and fast road with few curves and paved shoulders.

LA 68

Length: 19.35 miles
Southern terminus: JCT US 61, Port Hudson
Northern terminus: JCT LA 19, Wilson
Parishes: EF
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: None
Street names: Bay Street, Grant Street, Sycamore Street (in Wilson)

Another scenic Felicianas state highway, LA 68 provides the best north-south link to the antebellum town of Jackson (though it skirts the town proper to the east). The road terminates in the forgotten village of Wilson, in northern East Feliciana Parish.

Various points of interest along the highway include the Centenary State Commemorative Area and the East Louisiana State Hospital in Jackson, and Dixon Correctional Center a few miles to the south of Jackson.

LA 69

Length: 15.48 miles
Southern terminus: JCT LA 70, Grand Bayou
Northern terminus: JCT LA 1, Bayou Goula
Parishes: Asu, Ibv
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: LA 405, White Castle to Bayou Goula
Street names: Bowie Street (in White Castle)

LA 69 for the most part comprises one of the various Sugarcane Empire highways which populate the west bank of the Mississippi in the Baton Rouge region. Its main function is to provide a north-south link from LA 70 to the impoverished town of White Castle, and provides a link in the chain of north-south traffic from the Morgan City area to Plaquemine and even Baton Rouge.

The northern end of this road is, to put it plainly, odd. A logical northern terminus for this designation would be at LA 405 (the river road) in White Castle. Instead, LA 69 turns west on LA 405, multiplexing with it for a few miles in plain sight of the parallel LA 1, and then turns back south on an unsealed gravel road to terminate at a lonely intersection with LA 1. (And yes, the gravel road has signage clearly marking it as part of LA 69!)

At one time apparently the designation continued further southwestward along this gravel road, across LA 1 to a dead end somewhere in the sugarcane fields.

Unsealed state highways, I should mention, are a specialty of this particular region – and all of them are ridiculous.

LA 70

Length: 50.89 miles
Southern terminus: JCT US 90, Morgan City
Northern terminus: JCT LA 22, Sorrento
Parishes: St My, St M, Asu, Asc, St J, Asc
Multilane sections: JCT LA 3089 to east end of Sunshine Bridge
Multiplexes: None
Street names: 9th Street (in Morgan City)

A long route of major importance in connecting distant parts, LA 70’s routing takes the designation along a long gamut of environments, from coastal swamp to alluvial plain. Commencing in Morgan City at a diamond interchange with the US 90 elevated freeway, LA 70 leaves the city and travels through a nearly uninhabited swamp wasteland as it parallels the east levee of the Atchafalaya River Basin, with only the small community of Stephensville (filming location for the film Déjà Vu) to break the monotony. The road is curving enough to keep your attention, though. Hope you don’t get stuck behind a slow truck like I did….

This is the only real road within the southern section of St. Martin Parish, which due to an antebellum surveying error is incongruously separated from the main body of the parish by an arm of Iberia Parish.

Once having reached Belle River (and crossing a narrow swing drawbridge) the road changes character and becomes more traditional Louisiana bayou style, winding through the several fishing communities of western Assumption Parish, such as Pierre Part and Grand Bayou.

Once past LA 69, after a few miles of natural gas wells which surround the road, the swamps will dissipate and the traveler enters the Sugarcane Empire, with its wastes of open fields. This is the Bayou Lafourche watershed, the most productive sugarcane growing region in Louisiana. Crossing in short succession LA 1 (at a traffic light), Bayou Lafourche, and LA 308, LA 70 leaves this region and enters more traditional prairie before evaporating into dense woodland again, which will return to sugarcane fields as the highway approaches the Mississippi River natural levee.

As one approaches the Mississippi River, intersections come quick. First LA 3127, then the pseudo-interchange with LA 3089, which leads westward to Donaldsonville. Now a multilane highway, LA 70 serves as the approach to the Sunshine Bridge and crosses the Mississippi on that narrow but adequate span, completed in 1964 and formerly a tolled crossing. The wide section of pavement on the westbank approach to the bridge once served as the location for a toll booth, since demolished.

On the eastbank it alights to sugarcane fields, which quickly give way to woodland. Now a busy two-lane road, LA 70 funnels traffic from the important river crossing to I-10 at Sorrento – however, the designation itself terminates just shy of that freeway, with traffic following LA 22 for about two blocks to reach that important highway.

LA 70 Spur

Length: 1.60 miles
Southern terminus: JCT LA 1, Plattenville
Northern terminus: JCT LA 70
Parishes: Asu
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: None

LA 70 Spur, while short, provides a very useful cutoff for Sunshine Bridge bound interests arriving from the south along LA 1 or LA 308, and vice versa. It serves as part of the most rapid route from Baton Rouge to the Houma-Thibodaux area.

Signage belies this road’s importance, to no one’s surprise. The north end at LA 70 is incongruously signed with “Post Office” as the sole destination. You read it here, so don’t tell me you weren’t warned.

LA 71: See US 71 entry. US 71 is implied LA 71.

LA 72

Length: 3.47 miles
Western terminus: JCT US 79/80, Bossier City
Eastern terminus: JCT US 79/80, Bossier City
Parishes: Bo
Multilane sections: Traffic Street/Barksdale Blvd. intersection to eastern terminus
Multiplexes: None
Street names: Traffic Street, Barksdale Boulevard, Old Minden Road

By all rights, this number belongs in the Baton Rouge area, making it a distinct numerical outlier in northwest La.

In any case, this designation is entirely comprised of city streets in Bossier City, and thus I am again left wondering why a state highway of this type rates such a low designation, signaling importance. It may have much to do with the nearby presence of Barksdale AFB, since it serves as part of the northern access from I-20 (the nearest major highway) to that facility. Otherwise it parallels I-20 and US 79/80, two other major roads in the area, and carries mainly local traffic. From the looks of it, the alignment may have served as an older routing for US 80 in the area.

In 1955 the road would have been about half as long: LA 72’s western terminus would have been at the junction of Old Minden Road and Barksdale Blvd., since US 71 followed Barksdale Blvd. and Traffic Street west into Shreveport before the Interstate was constructed, and US 71 routed along it.

A widening project was completed recently which improved the eastern section of the road to a multilane state, from the I-20 junction to the eastern terminus.

LA 73

Length: 26.25 miles
Southern terminus: JCT LA 75, Geismar
Northern terminus: JCT LA 30, Baton Rouge
Parishes: Asc, EBR
Multilane sections: Junction Tiger Bend Road to north terminus
Multiplexes: US 61, Baton Rouge
Street names: In EBR: Government Street, Jefferson Highway, Airline Highway; In Asc: Jefferson Highway (sometimes Old Jefferson Hwy.)

Comprising a major portion of the historic Jefferson Highway in the Baton Rouge region, and bearing that name for most of its route, LA 73 carves a broad arc with both of its origin points on the banks of the Mississippi River. In Ascension Parish it is largely a two lane but increasingly busy rural and semi-rural road, passing through the communities of Geismar, Dutchtown, Prairieville, and Hope Villa.

Crossing Bayou Manchac into East Baton Rouge Parish, LA 73 parallels US 61/Airline Highway through that parish’s southern stretches through land that alternates between wooded and newly developed. At Tiger Bend Road it enters the urbanized area for good and gains multilane status. After a short multiplex with Airline Highway (on a section where Airline Hwy. was constructed directly adjacent to the old Jefferson Hwy.), LA 73 splits northwestward at the legendary and traffic headache-inducing Nesser “Y” and becomes a suburban arterial, passing through some of Baton Rouge’s priciest neighborhoods. The new Towne Center at Cedar Lodge now occupies the wedge of land between Jefferson Highway and Corporate Blvd.

At Government Street the Jefferson Highway name ends, but the LA 73 designation continues, turning left and moseying through inner BR as a busy urban arterial. Passing under I-110, Government Street enters the Beauregard Town neighborhood for its final few blocks. The designation ends at the intersection of St. Phillip Street at LA 30, about one block from the waterfront and adjacent to the BR River Center.

LA 73 merits its own history section, since the route is just fairly dripping with it. The original road extending southeastward from Baton Rouge originated at the present intersection of Government Street and South Acadian Thruway. Angling south from there along current South Acadian Thruway, the road was known as Clay Cut Road (the modern Clay Cut Road in Capital Heights comprising an integral part of that thoroughfare), becoming Hope Villa Road south of the modern Tiger Bend Road/Jefferson Highway intersection. With the rise of the auto trails in the 1910s, this highway became a segment of the much longer Jefferson Highway which extended from New Orleans to Winnipeg. The Jefferson Highway throughout Louisiana received its first route designation - the original LA 1 - in 1921.

In 1926 this roadway was incorporated into the national routing of US 61. From the Old Hammond Highway (present LA 426) junction westward it also comprised the then-westernmost segment of US 190 into the city of Baton Rouge. (US 190 was extended westward to Texas in the middle 1930s, via the old Baton Rouge-Port Allen Ferry.) Later additions included US 65 (ca. 1931).

When the Airline Highway (original state designation: LA 1500) was constructed in the early 1930s, its original extent was from Prairieville to Kenner, and so US 61/65 was removed from current LA 73 south of the modern US 61/LA 73 junction, leaving LA 1 alone on that segment. In 1940-41 the Airline Highway bypass route was constructed around Baton Rouge. Its extent ranged from the modern US 190/LA 415 junction in Lobdell to the Nesser “Y” junction and included the construction of what is now known as the “old” Mississippi River bridge. This did not eliminate US 61/65 from the original through town route, since the Airline bypass was designated as Bypass US 61/65/190 until around 1960. However, US 190 was removed to the Florida Blvd. extension (comprising Florida east of Foster Drive) which was constructed at the same time. Later the two segments of Airline Hwy. were connected through southern EBR Parish, and US 61/65 was routed along it, again leaving LA 1 on the original road.

Within BR the US highway designations have shifted so often along the various city streets that I have created a separate page to describe those changes in detail, so refer to that page for details therein.

Around 1950 or whereabouts, mainline US 61/65 approaching from the south was shifted to an Airline Highway/Florida Blvd. routing. (Later the bypass and mainline US routes would be switched so that that bypass became the mainline, with the former mainline turned into a business route.) Also in 1951, US 65 was retracted from southern La.

In 1955, modern LA 73 was born, replacing a segment of original LA 1. Its original west end followed Government to Foster, then Foster north to a common end with LA 37 at Florida Blvd./US 61-190. The current Government Street segment was mostly designated as the now-deceased LA 950-7 from St. Rose Avenue to South Foster Drive.

LA 74

Length: 10.60 miles
Western terminus: JCT LA 75, St. Gabriel
Eastern terminus: JCT US 61, Duplessis
Parishes: Ibv, Asc
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: None

LA 74 cuts an east-west swath through Iberville and Ascension Parishes, providing a second link between St. Gabriel and the Gonzales area. It is the only 2 digit state road that crosses I-10 in Ascension Parish without an interchange, but the LA 73 interchange is nearby.

Near the western end of this route in St. Gabriel lies the Elayn Hunt Correctional Center, which includes Louisiana’s only women’s prison. The middle section is heavily wooded; the eastern portion is growing increasingly exurban with the rise of Ascension Parish as a bedroom community. The formerly rural LA 73 intersection at Dutchtown (now stoplight controlled for your safety!) is increasingly congested and looks only to grow in usage as time passes.

LA 75

Length: 47.33 miles
Western terminus: Dead end, Pigeon
Eastern terminus: JCT LA 22 and 942, Darrow
Parishes: Ibv, Asc
Multilane sections: Through Plaquemine
Multiplexes: None

Hard to say whether this lengthy but meandering route has a true direction, as its convoluted routing spans both sides of the Mississippi River and traces an inverted “U” shape.

On its west end, LA 75 commences at a dead end in the deep swamp community of Pigeon. Paralleling the eastern bank of the ICWW Baton Rouge spur, LA 75 traverses classic swamp country, passing through Bayou Sorrell and Choctaw before turning east on a straight arrow alignment into the historic but bedraggled river city of Plaquemine.

At Plaquemine a ferry crossing spans the mighty Father of Waters as LA 75 transfers to the east bank. Along the east bank LA 75’s entire routing makes up a segment of the river road, hugging the levee through the communities of Sunshine, St. Gabriel, Carville (all part of the incorporated town of St. Gabriel), and Geismar, fronting the many riverside industrial facilities along the river’s length. The eastern terminus is at a rare triple ending of state highways – LA 75, 22, and 942 – in the Darrow community. LA 22 used to cross the river via ferry here to reach Donaldsonville, but the Sunshine Bridge rendered the ferry superfluous and the route was retracted to this quiet intersection.

LA 75 Spur

Length: 0.18 miles
Western terminus: Local road, Bayou Sorrel
Eastern terminus: JCT LA 75, Bayou Sorrel
Parishes: Ibv
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: None

The entirety of this route comprises a pontoon bridge spanning the ICWW BR spur, and the approaches to said bridge, which accesses the main part of the Bayou Sorrel community.