Baton Rouge @ SouthEastRoads
The capital city of the Pelican State, nestled along the Mississippi River in East Baton Rouge Parish.
First discovered by French explorers in 1699, Baton Rouge received its name from a reddened, 30-foot-high maypole that adorned the area. "The Red Stick" was adorned with several heads of fish and bear attached in sacrifice and dripping with blood that was used as a boundary marker between two area tribes. The early settlers used this terminology to name the area, but those who came afterwards tried several times to rename the locale. These attempts, however, were to no avail, as the name Baton Rouge stuck.
It was not until 1817 that Baton Rouge incorporated, followed several years later in 1882 with the designation of Louisiana state capital. The city has seen growth in the 20th century to that of the second largest metropolitan area in the state (second to New Orleans), with the advent of industry. The flourishing prosperity has been spearheaded by an immense chemical and petroleum complex on the Mississippi River. Yet the city retains its southern heritage with antebellum mansions sharing the scene.
An aerial view of the Louisiana Capital City from the south, taken 12/28/02.
The 2000 census lists the Baton Rouge metropolitan area population of 602,894. Prospects for growth look good as 2001 predictions see an increase to 608,303 residents. The MSA includes Ascension, East Baton Rouge, Livingston, and West Baton Rouge Parishes.
Interstate 10, like it is for New Orleans, is the lifeline for the Baton Rouge area. The freeway crosses the Mississippi River on a high-level cantilever span south of downtown. Magnificent views of the central business district and associated skyline can be seen from the perch high above the rivers edge. At Interstate 110, the highway begins its descent towards the New Orleans metropolitan area, taking a southeasterly trajectory through southern reaches of the city.
Like it is in New Orleans, Interstate 10 is elevated on a three lane viaduct through most of the city. A major split between New Orleans bound and long-distance travelers occurs at Exit 159 with Interstate 12. From College Drive east to Interstate 12, the highway is seeing new deco-sound barriers installed along the busy corridor. Where Interstate 10 passes Interstate 12, a shift in the development corridor occurs with the bulk of activity following the path of Interstate 12 as opposed to Interstate 10. Therefore, Interstate 12 maintains six lanes of refurbished concrete through to the Denham Springs exit while Interstate 10 reduces to four lanes immediately. The character of the highway from the Praireville exit to LaPlace of Interstate 10 is very southeastern in nature. In other words, the frontage is dominated by pine forest with various roadside amenities clustered around most of the diamond interchanges.
As mentioned in the Interstate 10 write-up, development is clustered along the first ten miles of Interstate 12 as it departs from Interstate 10. The highway sees a continuance of the Interstate 10 related sound barriers while seeing six lanes overall with replaced concrete. Street lighting lines the median of Interstate 12 for the first six or so miles to the east. Otherwise the freeway is at ground level as it cuts through eastern suburbs of the capital city.
East of the Denham Springs interchange (Exit 10), Interstate 12 transitions into typical southeastern landscapes, with tree frontage. Traffic counts are moderate at best, leaving one to believe that the highway will eventually be six-laned throughout its 85.59 mile routing.
Eric Harkness adds: "In radio traffic reports, the split at I-10 and I-12 was called, cleverly enough, the 10-12 Split. People would also use the term a lot when giving directions ("it's the next exit after the 10-12 Split..."). So the term was widely known and used throughout the Baton Rouge area. Well, a local modern rock band catering to the LSU party crowd and wanting to associate themselves with the area called themselves 10-12 Split. You'd hear announcements for their gigs on KLSU, the university's modern rock station, on a regular basis..."
An 8.89 mile spur from Interstate 10 serving the downtown area and Baton Rouge Metro Airport. The freeway sees three elevated viaducts on its routing, while overall carrying a 50 mph speed limit for all but the northernmost two miles. The highway receives heavy amounts of truck volume, as the freeway connects with the Airline Highway at a massive symmetrical stack interchange. This connection allows truck traffic easy access to the Mississippi River industrial and chemical plants situated near the Scotlandville portion of the city.
Additionally, Interstate 110 carries U.S. 61 traffic to and from Interstate 10. The U.S. Highway is an important corridor between Baton Rouge and Natchez, Mississippi as Interstate 110 allows traffic bound for New Orleans from Mississippi direct access onto the Gulf Coast lifeline.
Superceded by Interstate 10 from Baton Rouge to the southeast, U.S. 61 still retains importance as an alternate to the four-lane freeway. The highway also passes through the towns of Gonzalez and LaPlace, growing bedroom communities of the New Orleans and Baton Rouge metropolitan areas.
In Baton Rouge, the highway shares a significant amount of pavement with U.S. 190. Both highways stay well outside of the central business district while a business route counterpart for the twinned U.S. route loops into the downtown area from the north and east. Otherwise, U.S. 61 intersects Interstate 12 near Westminster and travels northwest to Merrydale and the Metro Airport. The highway passes Interstate 110 and turns northward at industrial areas in Scotlandville along the Scenic Highway. Traffic counts dwindle north of Interstate 110, as the area seems to be stifled from economic growth.
U.S. 190 was the original east-west corridor for Baton Rouge before Interstate 10 came to town. The highway now serves industrial needs and local traffic throughout the metropolitan area. The bridge over the Mississippi River is similar in design to that of the U.S. 90/Huey P. Long Bridge at Jefferson/Bridge City near New Orleans. The cantilever span carries four-lanes of highway traffic and a railroad line conjointly.
Some maps refer to U.S. 190, the Airline Highway up to U.S. 61, as a full freeway in north Baton Rouge. This however, is not the case, as various at-grade intersections are in place through the industrial areas near the river. An interchange does exist with Business U.S. 61/190, with a partial interchange in place on the west side of the river at Louisiana 1.
While U.S. 61 and 190 bypass the downtown and capital district of Baton Rouge to the north and east, their business counterparts do not. The highways are twinned due to the fact that their parents are also twinned. From the east, Business U.S. 61/190 heads westward from eastern Baton Rouge along Florida Boulevard into the downtown area at Interstate 110. Near the capital building, the two highways turn north along the waterfront area and than skirt alongside the Interstate 110 viaduct northward towards Scotlandville. At the Airline Highway, the two highways come to an end, as U.S. 61 and 190 also see their marriage come to an end. Signage at the northern terminus exists for a "Bypass" routing of U.S. 61/190 as well.
Page Updated February 6, 2003.