LOUISIANA INTERSTATE HIGHWAYS

Disclaimer: this page is in no way part of or represents the opinion of the Louisiana Department of Transportation. It is strictly for entertainment and none of my comments should be used as facts. For more about the good work the Louisiana Department of Transportation is doing, click here.

The State of Louisiana has a lot of interstate mileage, including some interstate highways that were built in areas not usually accessible by roads. Some of the greatest achievements in building interstate highways include the Interstate 10 bridges through the swamplands and marshes. Other accomplishments include the bridges over the Mississippi River.

And - what was the Larose-Lafitte Tollway all about anyway?


NEW! Information about the EASTERN EXPRESSWAY click here!


NEW! Information about the WESTBANK EXPRESSWAY click here!



A Look at Louisiana Interstate Highways circa 1961 (and earlier)
The State of Louisiana had at least five (possibly six) sections of interstate highway open as early as 1961. These sections were:
INTERSTATE HISTORY 1963-present


Below is a list of the interstate highways in Louisiana and their history, compiled from maps and memory. I need more information on when sections were completed, so if you can help, send e-mail to Marty Blaise at ag5t@hotmail.com. Where a question mark (?) appears, that means I am not exactly sure if the freeway opened that year. It may have actually opened sooner. As always, readers are welcome to help with information. More information will be added to this page after I process the information from more maps.

THIS NEXT SECTION IS CURRENTLY UNDER CONSTRUCTION AND PROPOSED!


1963
All Louisiana Interstates - no information available for this year.

1964
Interstate 10 - Open from Sulphur to Iowa, and Jennings to Crowley. Under construction from the Texas line to Sulphur, from Iowa to Jennings and from Crowley to Rayne. Under construction from north of New Orleans up to the Pearl River. Some maps show the Eastern Expressway in New Orleans as completed, but this is obviously an error as the main lanes weren't completed until the 1970s.
Interstate 20 - A short bypass at Minden is open as well as a section from Arcadia to Monroe. Under construction from Minden to Arcadia.
Interstate 55 - Shown as under construction from U.S. 61 up to Hammond. I have to dispute this, unfortunately, as maps several years later still show this section as proposed. Other maps say two lanes only and others say "not to interstate standards." Was this construction on 2 lanes only? Maybe a reader can help.

Interstate 310 - (deleted New Orleans section) - In October 1964, a proposed "Vieux Carre" expressway was officially announced as Interstate 310. This interstate would have gone through the French Quarter of New Orleans. The interstate was never built. For more information click here.


1965
Interstate 10 - Section from near the Eastern Expressway (New Orleans) up to Pearl River under construction. Part of this section would actually be Interstate 59. Also, a very short section from the Ponchartrain Expressway to the Outfall Canal in New Orleans is shown under construction.
Interstate 20 - Under construction from the Texas line to Shreveport. Open from Minden to Monroe.
Interstate 55 - Short bypass near Ponchatoula open. Otherwise, under construction up to the Mississippi border and south of Ponchatoula. I still am not sure about the "construction" south to U.S. 61.
Interstate 59 - The Eastern Expressway is shown under construction on one 1965 map (service roads under construction perhaps?) and the map also shows the proposed route going down to the Greater New Orleans Bridge, so this would have been the proposed IH 310 route, now deleted. I don't know why the map tagged the Eastern Expressway with an IH 59 shield when it would become IH 10. Another curiosity that a reader might shed some light on. Interstate 59 is open from the town of Pearl River up to Picayune, MS so this would indicate the bridges over the Pearl River were complete.

1966
No information available - need 1966 maps if possible.

1967
Interstate 10 - Bridge over Mississippi River in Baton Rouge is under construction. It opens in 1968. Interstate 10 is completed as far east as Rayne.
Interstate 12 - Section from IH 10 to Highway 61 opens in Baton Rouge (?)

1968
Interstate 10 - Here we go again! The Eastern Expressway (New Orleans) is shown as under construction. Okay, was it the main lanes or the service roads?? Several other sections of Interstate 10 completed in New Orleans (?). Interstate 10 is under construction from Scott to Lafayette.
Interstate 20 - It is now open from the Texas line to Shreveport and from Minden to Monroe. Interstate 20 is under construction from Monroe to Rayville.
Interstate 55 - Under construction from Hammond to Independence, then complete to the Mississippi line. A short section south of Hammond also open.

1969
Interstate 10 - Rayne to Lafayette opens.

1970
Interstate 10

1971
Interstate 10 -

1972
Interstate 10 - Construction under way in downtown New Orleans on connecting ramps section from Pontchartrain Expressway to Clairborne Elevated section. Map shows Eastern Expressway as a 2-lane highway now! I guess nobody knew what to do with this road. I'm guessing it was service roads with a wide median of grass in the middle?

Interstate 610 - under construction in New Orleans


1973
Interstate 10 - In March 1973, IH 10 opened between Lafayette and Baton Rouge. This section went through the Atchafalaya swamp. To read about how this interstate highway was built, read Engineering Marvels.

1974
Interstate 10 -
Interstate 20 - Bridge over Mississipi River opens(?)

1975
Interstate 10 - Under construction from junction with IH 12 in Baton Rouge to junction with future IH 55 near LaPlace.
Interstate 12 - A section opens from Lacombe to Slidell.
Interstate 20 - Last two sections are under construction, between Shreveport and Minden, and from Monroe east to the Mississippi River.
Interstate 55 - A short section north of LaPlace is shown under construction. Okay, was this the "other" 2 lanes? Or, was it "complete" interstate construction? Again, maybe a reader can help.
Interstate 59
Interstate 110
Interstate 220 - still proposed on maps.
Interstate 310
Interstate 410
This was to have been a loop interstate around the south of New Orleans. Parts of it exist as Interstate 310 and 510. Several state tourist maps and oil company maps from 1971 through 1973 show the proposed route for Interstate 410.
Interstate 510 - shown only as Paris Road, 2 lanes (?)
Interstate 610 -
1976 -
1977 - Interstate 10 opens between Hwy ??? south of Baton Rouge and Jct (future) IH 55 near LaPlace. This completes Interstate 10 across entire state of Louisianan.
1980 no information available
The 1980s
Plans for interstate 49 announced
The 1990s
Interstate 49 is under construction
Interstate 49 is completed
All of Louisiana's interstates are completed
Plans for IH 49 North
Plans for IH 49 South - Will interstate 49 go south of Lafayette? Will U.S. 90 become a freeway?


I received the following e-mail from David Backlin (dbackli@yahoo.com) concerning Interstate 49: the last completed section was around Alexandria in 1995 or 1996. This section is also marked "Bypass US 71". Completed section ran from US71/US167 north to US71/US165 (I think). The section opened previous to that was from LA 3132 to I-20. I-49 North is proposed to run all the way to Kansas City, mostly paralleling US 71. Part of what will become I-49 in Arkansas is currently signed as I-540 (between I-40 and Fayetteville). -- Thanks, David.


The story of how Interstate 10 was built on the TX/LA border, courtesy of Stephen Taylor of Austin, Texas - the bridge at Orange, Texas was designed and built between 1948-52. US 90 at that time veered south after leaving Toomey and then straightened out and entered Orange, TX on a swing bridge built in 1928. Building that two-lane stretch of 90 was a mammoth engineering job; as it went through miles of marsh and swamp to reach the Sabine River after leaving Toomey. Even so, it was only two-lane, and with no way of widening it at all. It was deadly. Both sides were lined with nightclubs, featuring wide-open gambling, prostitution and narcotics, as well as bootleg liquor. Calcasieu Parish was wide open in those years. When WW 2 came, the highway and bridge were taxed even further by the construction of shipyards in Orange; as well as a Naval Base. The swing bridge opened constantly for ships of all sorts, further congesting an already bad situation. The fact that the Highway ran right through downtown Orange made it worse. Orange grew from 9,000 to 70,000 in two years. Something had to be done. A scarcely 10 year old road and bridge were already outdated. After the war, the respective Highway Departments in both states got together to build a new bridge as part of an overall concept called Super 90. At this same time a similiar style bridge was built over the Neches at Beaumont, for much the same reason. US 90 itself was to be widened and straightened with new safety features added in both states. Planning began in 1948 and construction began in 1950. The site chosen was about 2 1/2 miles north of the existing bridge at Orange. At that point, nothing existed at that site. It was strictly marsh. Bear in mind, this all pre-dated the Interstate Highway System. Construction was a chore. Since no roads existed, a cement plant was floated on a barge upstream to the site. Workers were carried in and out by boat. All materiel was brought in by barge. The bridge was four-lanes wide; two each direction of course. It was built with a four-foot mountable median in the middle; this was later replaced with the barrier medians you see today. I can't speak to the height or style of construction, but I could probably obtain this if you want it. When the bridge was finished in 52, no roads existed yet on the Texas side but were being built.

In Louisana, however, the state had improved 90 to a 4-lane limited access with paved shoulders up to the bridge, bypassing the existing two-lane 90. Access to the bridge could be gained from the Louisiana side, and in about another year Texas completed it's part from North of Orange to the Bridge. When the bridge was complete, from Toomey westward 90 was four-lane across the bridge and into Orange, where the road veered to the left on Byron Simmons Drive, into downtown Orange.

The freeway didn't go further west at that point. The project was completed as plans for the Interstate Highway System were being announced. The concept of Super 90 died a quiet death, and when 10 was built from Sulphur to the bridge, it bypassed 90 completely in Louisiana. It bypassed Toomey, and the new 4-lane built to connect Toomey to the bridge was bypassed as well. Today, it is fenced off and can only be reached by going to Toomey and back around. It is a Louisiana State Highway today. When the Interstate entered Texas, it went straight at Byron Simmons, where 90 veered into town. Today Byron Simmons is the last exit leaving Texas or the first as you enter.

Orange has died a quite death as well. Interstate 10 helped kill it, along with the closure of the shipyards. Today it is home to about 20,000.

Interestingly, 10 was not even supposed to enter Texas at Orange. Planners in Washington thought it would cost less to build by bringing it into Texas at Deweyville, about 20 miles north of Orange. As in many other cities, however, community leaders actually wanted the Interstate. Byron Simmons was most instrumental in having the plan changed to bring 10 to Orange. Hence, the name of the street. Drive down Simmons Dr some day, as it is marked as Business 90. See what happened to Orange when one day in about 1963 the traffic stopped coming. The pattern of devastation is eeriely similiar to about a thousand other towns and cities. -- Stephen Taylor Austin, staylor240@earthlink.net

Help me solve two highway mysteries!
1. Interstate ???
A 1969 & a 1975 map of Arkansas/Louisiana/Mississippi both show a proposed route from U.S. 90 in Marrero, Louisiana, south to the city of Cut Off on Highway 1. The 1969 map refers to this as the Larose-Lafitte Proposed Toll Road. The 1975 map only shows the proposed route. Was this to have been an interstate highway? A tollway? Part of IH 410? A variation on the Acadian Thruway (an earlier proposed route that would have went from Lafayette south of Baton Rouge and towards New Orleans)? If you know anything about the Larose-Lafitte Tollway, please send me information via e-mail.


2. The Acadian Thruway
According to several sources, some late 1950s Louisiana maps show a road called the Acadian Thruway under construction south of Baton Rouge. The route is approximately Lafayette to Grammercy. Was this to have been an earlier version of IH 10 over the swamps? Why is the road shown as under construction on the maps? Was there ever any construction? Did the map makers "jump the gun?" There is an Acadian Thruway in Baton Rouge today, but this earlier road shown under construction is still a mystery to me. Does anyone know what it was? Why wasn't it built?

I will be adding more information to this page when I check out my maps and if I get more information from readers. If you have any information at all about when interstate highway sections opened, construction projects, or anything related to Louisiana's interstates, please let me know.

I need more information on the following: Thanks for your patience. I am new at "highway pages" and hope to improve the site a little at a time with additional information. Please send me your contributions and I will gladly give you credit. Also, if anyone knows the right code to make only one exit sign below and not two, please let me know. Thanks.
Send e-mail to Marty Blaise

1