24 June 2008

Louisiana State Highways: LA 76 to LA 100

LA 76

Length: 25.62 miles
Western terminus: JCT LA 77, Maringouin
Eastern terminus: JCT LA 1 and LA 987-4, Port Allen
Parishes: Ibv, WBR
Multilane sections: On multiplex with LA 415
Multiplexes: LA 415, Lobdell
Street names (in WBR): Rosedale Road, Lobdell Highway (with LA 415), Court Street

LA 76 comprises a substantial segment of the old Jefferson Highway, historical US 71, historical US 190, and pre-1955 LA 1 in the parishes immediately west of Baton Rouge. Commencing in Port Allen at the current LA 1, it quickly leaves the developed area, taking a generally westward trajectory toward the town of Rosedale on Bayou Grosse Tete in Iberville Parish, closely paralleling I-10 about a mile or two to its north. The section from LA 415 west to Rosedale is very desolate and travels through and past sugarcane fields, much undeveloped woodland, and a few isolated subdivisions, belying the fact that the region lies but a few miles distant from downtown Baton Rouge. It is signed as an alternate route for I-10 for when the freeway is closed due to traffic incidents (which seem to occur with some regularity).

At JCT LA 3000 near Ramah it makes a sharp turn to the north and traverses a narrow and extremely curving alignment to its end at LA 77 in the town of Maringouin. This road, believe it or not, serves as a part of one of the few connections from I-10 to the hinterland in the region. Well, at least the countryside is attractive and remains unspoiled to this day, unblighted by suburban development.

LA 77

Length: 49.11 miles (as of 2002)
Southern terminus: JCT LA 1, Plaquemine
Northern terminus: JCT LA 10 southwest of Morganza
Parishes: Ibv, PC
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: None

LA 77 provides the sole north-south connection between northern Iberville Parish and the parish seat at Plaquemine which remains entirely within that parish. It forms a lengthy lateral route that connects cities and towns along the edge of the Atchafalaya Basin swamp in the parishes west of Baton Rouge.

The section from Plaquemine to Grosse Tete is notoriously winding and substandard, following the course of various bayous, and passes through lightly populated, largely wooded and swampy terrain. Even so, its I-10 interchange is important as here is located the last traveler services for eastbound Interstate motorists before crossing the Atchafalaya Basin bridge, or the first and only such services for westbound motorists having just crossed the basin, before entering a desolate twelve mile exit-less stretch of Interstate.

North of the small town of Grosse Tete there are more points of interest for travelers. About two miles north of I-10 lies the core of the village of Rosedale (such as it is). A long and winding if scenic drive along a narrow roadway will lead one to Maringouin, where LA 77 passes directly through the town center as the main street. Finally, turning north again at JCT LA 76, the highway progresses north another few miles to US 190 and Livonia.

North of US 190 the heavily wooded road curves northwest along a winding path, eventually reaching the town of Fordoche (not much more than a cluster of buildings) and a junction with LA 81. From there the route becomes more desolate as it approaches the fringes of the Basin.

Eventually the east basin levee is reached, as LA 77 turns north to parallel it, and then soon ends at a junction with LA 10 (which does not seem like a junction, as LA 10 to the west is an unsealed gravel road). (See LA 77 Spur for more information, as the above described is based on field signage – however, the situation is somewhat more complicated.)

LA 77 from JCT LA 76 to its ‘official’ northern end is part of the historical Jefferson Highway, historical US 71, and old LA 1.

LA 77 Spur

Length: 1.44 miles
Southern terminus: JCT LA 77 northwest of Fordoche
Northern terminus: JCT LA 10 east of Melville
Parishes: PC
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: None

The whole story of LA 77 Spur is an odd situation indeed, mixed up with the sorry situation of the state roads in the immediate area.

Officially, mainline LA 77 ends at LA 10 about a mile or so west of the junction which is signed in the field as the 10/77 intersection. The northernmost portion of signed LA 77 is officially considered LA 77 Spur. The mainline routing splits off at the east levee near a church where the main road makes a curve. The official route proceeds westward as an unsealed gravel road and crosses the Atchafalaya Basin levee to end at LA 10 (also unsealed) at a point within the environs of the basin.

Of course the posted signage in the field belies the situation, with LA 77 signed along its reputed spur and no mention made in signage of LA 77 Spur or the official routing of LA 77 mainline. However, there is ‘official’ DOTD signage regarding the Melville Ferry on the ‘unsealed mainline’ so state control is evident.

I have not surveyed the signage situation at the ‘official’ 10/77 junction as I do not own an off road vehicle, so too bad.

LA 78

Length: 7.60 miles
Southern terminus: JCT US 190/LA 411, Livonia
Northern terminus: JCT LA 1, Parlange
Parishes: PC
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: None

A short but important connecting route, LA 78 provides a pleasant link between the Bayou Grosse Tete communities and the New Roads/False River area.

In the town of Livonia there is a 25 MPH speed limit and the limit is strictly enforced by the local revenuers – I mean police. Don’t say you weren’t warned.

LA 79: See US 79 entry. US 79 is implied LA 79.

LA 80: See US 80 entry. US 80 is implied LA 80.

LA 81

Length: 7.60 miles
Western terminus: JCT LA 77, Fordoche
Eastern terminus: JCT LA 77, Livonia
Parishes: PC
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: None

Terminating at LA 77 at both ends, LA 81 is a road with two distinct parts. The north-south portion functions as a connector from US 190 to the town of Fordoche. The east-west portion parallels US 190 closely to the south and essentially functions as a local road. This roadway served as an original alignment for US 190 in the area. The change of direction occurs in the small community of Lottie, at a 90 degree turn just south of the railroad.

LA 82

Length: 143.72 miles
Western terminus: Sabine Pass drawbridge @ Texas state line – Continues as TX 82
Eastern terminus: End of state maintenance @ Lafayette Parish line
Parishes: Cam, Verm
Multilane sections: N. State Street in Abbeville (?)
Multiplexes: LA 27, Holly Beach to Creole

The closest road Louisiana has to a true coastal highway, LA 82 is a lengthy road which traverses a substantial distance through the coastal southwestern portion of the state. Much of the coastal alignment was purpose built or upgraded from existing roads by the state as a scenic touring route starting in the 1940s. The coastal portion comprises the Creole Nature Trail. The Cameron and lower Vermillion portions do traverse hauntingly lonely country, a desolate land of marsh and water, still bearing many of the scars of Hurricane Rita’s wind and storm surge.

Thanks to an embarrassment of riches in federal relief funds, every road, dirt track, driveway, and cowpath that the parish of Cameron maintains is now signed impeccably, with parish road signs, speed limit signs, yellow warning signage, posted weight restrictions, etc. It is really quite ridiculous. Cameron Parish, population approximately 6,000, must now have more posted parish road signs than all the other 63 parishes put together.

From Holly Beach for a distance westward, the highway follows the coastline, one of only two places in La. where a road directly parallels the shores of the Gulf of Mexico (the other is LA 1 at Grand Isle). Crossing the Calcasieu River via ferry, LA 82 (now in tandem with LA 27) passes through the storm-battered community of Cameron, population hub of the parish and its seat of government, home to a few residents but mostly a staging area for offshore drilling activities. The eastern junction with LA 27 in Creole is home to Cameron Parish’s only traffic light.

Through the eastern sections of the parish, the road follows a series of ancient barrier islands called cheniers, which stand out as wooded tracts in the sea of marsh grass, slightly higher than the surrounding area and holding most of the human settlement in the area. These cheniers are separated by vast expanses of marsh which the highway traverses, crossing several drawbridges along the way. The cheniers eventually dissipate, and the drive grows increasingly lonely as one enters Vermillion Parish.

After crossing the ICWW on a high level bridge, the first major junction encountered after a long stretch is LA 35 at Forked Island, at an intersection which favors traffic to and from LA 35. Leaving the coastal marshes and swamps, LA 82 enters the magnificently beautiful rice country typical to the prairie regions of inland southwest La., and traverses a route east, then north, to Abbeville, the direction change being at a “T” intersection with LA 333.

LA 82 traverses the heart of Abbeville, splitting into a one way pair in the central business district at the courthouse square.

North of Abbeville it loses its importance as a through route, paralleling the Vermillion River and leading nowhere in particular. The designation simply terminates at the Lafayette-Vermillion parish line, at a seemingly random point about a mile or so short of LA 339. I have no idea why this last segment is a state road, much less part of a road as important overall as LA 82.

LA 83

Length: 34.21 miles
Western terminus: LA 14, New Iberia
Eastern terminus: LA 182, Baldwin
Parishes: Iba, St My
Multilane sections: JCT US 90 to east terminus
Multiplexes: None

LA 83 functions as a long loop south from US 90 toward the swamps of the coastal regions of Iberia and St. Mary Parishes. The New Iberia approach alignment is dated and should probably be rerouted.

Winding south from New Iberia though sugarcane land, LA 83 crosses US 90 at an interchange, dipping south to Lydia and Weeks Island (actually an intensively mined salt dome), with its furthest southerly extent being near an intersection with LA 316, a spur which crosses the ICWW and leads to Cypremort Point and its state park. Turning east, the highway follows a tongue of sugarcane land toward its terminus in Baldwin. With the construction of an interchange with US 90 there, the last segment of the road has been rerouted onto a newer divided alignment. The old alignment in Baldwin followed Martin Luther King Blvd to LA 182 (old US 90).

LA 84: See US 84 entry. US 84 is implied LA 84.

LA 85

Length: 7.79 miles
Western terminus: LA 83, Lydia
Eastern terminus: LA 182, Jeanerette
Parishes: Iba
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: None

LA 85 is a short route in east Iberia Parish, traveling between Lydia and the city of Jeanerette through sugarcane country.

The usefulness of LA 85 is questionable as its most obvious function, to connect the US 90 expressway to Jeanerette, is better and more directly served by Canal Street (LA 668 and 671).

LA 86

Length: 16.33 miles
Southern terminus: JCT LA 182, New Iberia
Northern terminus: JCT LA 31, Daspit
Parishes: Iba
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: None

One of those annoying roads which seemingly circles aimlessly, LA 86 functions as a loop from the New Iberia area to the town of Loreauville. LA 86 follows the curve of the Bayou Teche; it is actually shorter to travel between the endpoints of this route via other roads than via LA 86 itself.

Its northern section is labeled as ‘low importance’ by DOTD and thus should be killed, allowing for realignment along other roads. I propose that LA 345 be incorporated into a revised routing of LA 86.

LA 87

Length: 42.21 miles
Western terminus: JCT LA 86, New Iberia
Eastern terminus: End of state maintenance near Centerville
Parishes: Iba, St My
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: None

Another state highway from the “for the love of god, why?” school, LA 87 parallels LA 182 (and US 90) along the north bank of Bayou Teche, looping northward at places to follow this waterway. A road of only minor importance at best and of no real statewide significance, it has lost any importance it may have once rated to bigger and better roads.

Also belonging to the small but growing unsealed class of state highways, significant portions of its eastern end (confirmed from Oaklawn to near Franklin, and possibly further east) sport a gravel surface.

LA 87 Spur

Length: 0.48 miles
Southern terminus: LA 182, New Iberia
Northern terminus: LA 87, New Iberia
Parishes: Iba
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: None
Street names: Lewis Avenue

Lewis Avenue in New Iberia as it crosses Bayou Teche.

God only knows why this is a state road. The parish wants the state to maintain the bridge, I presume?

LA 88

Length: 5.39 miles
Western terminus: LA 89, Lozes
Eastern terminus: LA 182, Burke
Parishes: Iba
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: None

Short connector road in the sugarcane land north of New Iberia. I have not passed final judgment on its state-worthiness yet, but prognosis appears negative.

A new diamond interchange for this road has opened on US 90 within the past few years, so that’s something positive, to buttress our fair and balanced reputation here.

LA 89

Length: 18.05 miles
Southern terminus: LA 14, Delcambre
Northern terminus: US 90, Broussard
Parishes: Verm, Iba, Lafy
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: LA 92, Youngsville

A major exponent of the cancerous littoral that is rapidly consuming the sugarcane fields of southern Lafayette Parish, LA 89 provides an important and increasingly burdened link to the growing Lafayette exurb of Youngsville, alleged to be the fastest growing city in the state.

Further south, it makes several right angle turns along section lines; at the intersection with LA 88, an especially sharp turn must be executed to follow the designation. Paralleling the Vermillion-Iberia parish line for a spell, LA 89 then hugs the western shore of Lake Peigneur as it approaches Delcambre, terminating at LA 14 just to the west of the main body of the town.

LA 90: See US 90 entry. US 90 is implied LA 90.

LA 91

Length: 49.67 miles
Southern terminus: End of state maintenance @ private road south of Delcambre
Northern terminus: LA 13, Eunice
Parishes: Verm, Ac, St L
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: LA 14, Gueydan; US 90, Midland to Estherwood; LA 100, Egan; LA 98, Iota; LA 368, Williams

LA 91 is the quintessential rice country highway, with most of its routing traversing rice farmland in Vermillion and Acadia Parishes, and contributing to its importance and value by connecting various towns and communities along the way.

Items of interest include the abandoned rail right of way that parallels the road from Midland south through Morse to Gueydan and a pontoon bridge spanning the Mermentau River at Estherwood (which floods out routinely, apparently, so be prepared).

LA 92

Length: 54.47 miles
Western terminus: US 90, Mermentau
Eastern terminus: LA 31, St. Martinville
Parishes: Ac, Verm, Lafy, St M
Multilane sections: US 167 and US 90 multiplexes
Multiplexes: LA 35, Indian Bayou; LA 700, Indian Bayou; US 167, Maurice; LA 89, Youngsville; US 90, Cade

Despite its length, for most of its route LA 92 generally manages to achieve no greater than secondary importance, connecting few cities and towns directly and more or less passes through a geographical ‘slot’ devoid of population centers. From Maurice to its east end, however, it is seeing the exurban development of Lafayette and is experiencing growing traffic burdens. At the junction with LA 339 (Verot School Road) the LaDOTD, in one of its unnecessary bits of inventiveness, has constructed a traffic circle to expedite the flow of the increased traffic loads.

LA 93

Length: 29.91 miles
Southern terminus: US 167, Lafayette (near Mall of Acadiana)
Northern terminus: LA 31, Arnaudville
Parishes: Lafy, St M, St L
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: US 90, Scott; LA 182, Sunset

Lafayette is much like Des Moines. Though the popular perception of south Louisiana is of swamps and bayous, in reality the area surrounding Lafayette is primarily prairie land, well elevated and host to rice, sugarcane, and cattle production. These rural environs are constantly being infringed upon by the sprawl of the growing city, which is the fastest growing metropolitan area in Louisiana. LA 93 plays home to this process in action.

Commencing at US 167/Johnston Avenue in the hub of Lafayette’s big box retail district, LA 93 traverses the current western fringe of the urban area, which is fast expanding its littoral into the countryside, some of the loveliest in Louisiana (no wonder people are moving there in droves). Various right angle turns are navigated as the busy highway follows the section lines.

Passing through the exurb of Scott (it’s Scott! he’s a dick!) on narrow streets that beg to be bypassed, the road breaks out into the open countryside north of I-10, moving northward through the small village of Cankton and meeting I-49 at Sunset. At this point the road changes direction, moving east through Grand Coteau to a terminus in the scenic Bayou Teche community of Arnaudville.

LA 94

Length: 8.12 miles
Western terminus: US 90, Lafayette
Eastern terminus: LA 328, Breaux Bridge
Parishes: Lafy, St M
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: None
Street names (in Lafayette): East Simcoe Street, Louisiana Avenue, Carmel Avenue

A short but important route, LA 94 provides the most direct and fastest non-freeway connection between Lafayette and Breaux Bridge. Since Lafayette does not sprawl much at all to the east, it traverses mostly rural environs, but its western end winds through the city streets of one of the more urban parts of Lafayette. Though a two lane road it can be busy in stretches.

LA 95

Length: 46.48 miles
Southern terminus: US 90, Duson
Northern terminus: LA 104, Mamou
Parishes: Lafy, Ac, St L, Ev
Multilane sections: With US 190
Multiplexes: LA 35, Church Point; US 190 east of Eunice; LA 29, Chataignier

A lengthy rice empire highway, LA 95 does not rise to the importance of some of its north-south brethren in the region. Its most important section is the southern portion between Duson and US 190, serving the community of Church Point. North of US 190 it passes through the village of Chataignier before terminating at the town of Mamou, which is world famous for its Cajun Mardi Gras.

LA 95 Spur

Length: 0.65 miles
Eastern terminus: LA 95
Western terminus: US 190
Parishes: St L
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: None

LA 95 approaches US 190 from the south in an odd manner, by turning northeast upon an old alignment of 190 before intersecting with the modern dual carriageway highway. The western section of that old alignment is designated as LA 95 Spur, and is the best way to access US 190 westbound.

Why LA 95 was not just cut through to a simple “T” intersection with realigned US 190 is a mystery to which God only knows the answer.

LA 96

Length: 19.69 miles
Western terminus: US 90, Broussard
Eastern terminus: LA 352, Catahoula
Parishes: Lafy, St M
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: LA 182 at west end; LA 31, St. Martinville

LA 96 provides the most direct route from US 90 and the Lafayette area in general to the historic town of Saint Martinville, Paris of the Teche. East of the city, it comprises a long and winding trek through sugarcane fields to the community of Catahoula at the edge of the Atchafalaya Basin. Not sure how state highway worthly this eastern segment is, but…

LA 97

Length: 21.81 miles
Southern terminus: US 90, Jennings
Northern terminus: US 190, Basile
Parishes: JD, Ac
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: LA 102 at south end

LA 97 is yet another entry in the 9x series of north-south routes which traverse the rural territory west of Lafayette. This road serves the western tier of Acadia Parish, and directly connects the two cities at its endpoints while passing through largely agricultural land. There is an interchange with I-10 which is one of two Interstate exits serving that community. Overall it is a less important but still useful route.

A suggested revision would be to extend the route north along US 190 (for one mile) and replace the LA 3277 designation, to end at LA 104. Since LA 371 was renumbered in the mid-1990s to accommodate US 371, the road just hasn’t carried the same import with such a convoluted designation.

LA 98

Length: 47.31 miles
Western terminus: LA 97, Millerville
Eastern terminus: Local road @ Lafayette-St. Martin parish line
Parishes: Ac, Lafy
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: LA 91, Iota; LA 35, Rayne

LA 98 is another one of the longer routes which nevertheless manages to evade any sort of major importance, save near Lafayette where as Gloria Switch Road it shapes up to be the next suburban arterial. Its routing is convoluted also, comprising many bends and turns as well as a long detour southward which brings it into the city of Rayne. Many small rural communities, such as Mire, Iota, and Vatican, see service from LA 98.

LA 99

Length: 32.60 miles
Southern terminus: LA 14 west of Lake Arthur
Northern terminus: US 190 between Kinder and Elton
Parishes: JD, Al
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: US 90, Welsh; LA 102, Pine Island

LA 99 largely traverses the bleak and barren heart of the Jefferson Davis Parish prairie, a mostly treeless and pancake flat plain of rice fields and cattle farms which resembles Kansas more than Louisiana. The only town of consequence served is Welsh, for which LA 99 provides the requisite Interstate interchange at I-10.

LA 100

Length: 14.84 miles
Western terminus: LA 97, Evangeline
Eastern terminus: LA 13, Crowley
Parishes: Ac
Multilane sections: None
Multiplexes: LA 91, Egan

LA 100 is a less useful road now that the Interstate exists – a far less useful road, indeed. For the eastern two-thirds of its length it parallels I-10 closely; through much of this distance LA 100 is actually the north frontage road for I-10, a distinction it carries to its eastern terminus.

I say retire this road from the state rolls (or at least call it what it is, an I-10 frontage road) and put the LA 100 designation to better use elsewhere.