New Orleans @ SouthEastRoads
The Big Easy, New Orleans is the hub of the north-central Gulf of Mexico coastline, with 496,938 residents. The city is nestled along the banks of the mighty Mississippi, and has existed since the French colonial times. The city is best known for Mardi Gras, the home of Jazz, and occasionally the Super Bowl. The cultural hearth of the city is unmatched by any other in the southeast United States.
With all of the above stated, the city of New Orleans was dealt a major blow by the landfall of Hurricane Katrina on August 29, 2005. The major storm raked the city with 115 mph winds and a storm surge that toppled several sections of the protective levees. During Labor Day weekend of 2005, some of the levees failed, allowing waters from Lake Ponchartrain to inundate the city. The following weeks resulted in a full scale evacuation of the city as some 10-15 feet of water submerged everything. Recovery efforts are still underway, but some nine months after the first winds of Katrina moved in, the city remains a shell of its former self. It's estimated that just 225,000 live in the city as of mid 2006 with those numbers expected to climb slowly as rebuilding continues. See the Hurricane Katrina Road Information - SouthEastRoads.com page for information pertaining to the road system during and after the storm.
A look at Southeastern Louisiana, and the various highways that serve the Greater New Orleans metropolitan area. What is not shown here, is that U.S. 11, 51, and 65 originally all overlapped with U.S. 61 or U.S. 90 into downtown New Orleans. Additionally, Interstate 59 was once proposed to continue southward from the current terminus at Slidell, to a terminus into the city.
An often congested freeway serving most of New Orleans Metropolitan area. The freeway enters the area from the west along a ten mile viaduct over the southwestern part of Lake Ponchartrain watershed. At Interstate 310, Interstate 10 returns grade level and widens to six lanes, quickly seeing increased traffic counts due to the location of the New Orleans International Airport within the city of Kenner. Speed limit in the metro is generally 60 mph unless otherwise posted, but traffic often flows at a much slower rate during the peak hours of traffic. The interchange with Interstate 610 was rebuilt by early 2000 allowing for smoother transitions from one route to the other, with the Westbank Expressway junction seeing a redesign in 1993/94. Most of the freeway was complete by the mid 1960s and the design reflects this era.
Freeway serving the southwest portion of the greater New Orleans metropolitan area. The freeway is elevated for most of its duration as it crosses over wetlands area associated with the Mississippi River watershed. The northernmost viaduct portion ties into Interstate 10 and Interstate 55 to the west for a seamless 38 miles. This is the longest continuous viaduct system in the world. Southward at Destrehan Interstate 310 crosses the cable-stayed Mississippi River Bridge. This span, which saw deck replacement in 1999/2000, rises high up above the fertile plains situated nearby. Currently the southern terminus occurs at U.S. 90 near Boutte. This interchange sees stub viaducts, as the freeway will eventually see a short extension to the future Interstate 49.
Interstate 510 links Chalmatte with eastern New Orleans. The 3.16-mile freeway spur ties into the Louisiana 47 Intracoastal Waterway Bridge to the south and Interstate 10 to the north. Replacing Paris Road, the original Louisiana 47, the north-south freeway serves the Lake Forest, Michoud, and New Orleans East communities of the city. Additionally the freeway serves the Six Flags New Orleans theme park, closed since the landfall of Hurricane Katrina, and the NASA Michoud Assembly Facility. Much of the Interstate 510 corridor and areas surrouding the freeway received extensive damage from Hurricane Katrina. As of June 2006, many homes, businesses, and the like remained abandoned and in a devestated state.
4.30 mile Interstate that allows through traffic to bypass the downtown area of New Orleans in lieu of Interstate 10. The freeway ends at Interstate 10 in both directions, crosses New Orleans City Park, and is mostly elevated on viaduct. It should be noted that this six lane freeway receives a heavy amount of local traffic, and is often congested in its own right. The freeway was opened to traffic during the late 1960s.
The proposed Interstate number for the West Bank Expressway (U.S. 90 Business). It was thought due to the length of time until Interstate 49 is extended to the area, an Interstate designation for this freeway was logical. This idea first came to fruition in 1999 and since than has never resurfaced with any publicity. Interstate 910 was all but forgotten until the October 31, 2002 Interstate Route Log and Finders List revealed the designation on its Auxiliary Routes page. With that stated, Interstate 910 shields have not been placed on the 9.70 mile alignment and thus the designation will be considered hidden until such a time when they are posted.
Lake Pontchartrain Causeway
Four lane roadway bisecting Lake Pontchartrain between Metairie and Mandeville on the north shore. The highway sees twin two-lane bridges and a 55 mph speed limit. Various crossovers are in place, with call boxes and variable message signs along the route to aid motorists. A draw span is situated eight miles south of the north shore. The southbound direction is tolled $3.00 per passenger vehicles, with a collection of fares at the Northshore toll plaza. The Southshore toll plaza no longer collects tolls, but remains in place with northbound traffic passing through the now abandoned booths at 25 mph. The north end transitions into a freeway through Mandeville to Interstate 12 with U.S. 190. South in Metairie the story is much different, with interchanges at Veterans Memorial Highway, Interstate 10, U.S. 61/Airline Highway, and U.S. 90/Jefferson Highway. Other than these interchanges, traffic crawls through congested intersections in the heavily developed area.
Some maps show Causeway Boulevard as the Greater New Orleans Expressway. Additionally, a color code system of markers was in place at one time, directing travelers from the southern terminus of the causeway. The system saw red markers for traffic into New Orleans and points east. Green markers led drivers to U.S. 90 and points west, while blue markers directed traffic to Baton Rouge and connections along U.S. 61. A 1966 New Orleans metro map shows the causeway as Louisiana 3046.
Not much of U.S. 51 remains independent of Interstate 55 south of Ponchatoula. The portion that does remain links Interstate 10 and Interstate 55 southward to LaPlace, a distance of about three miles. This roadway carries four lanes and a center turn lane from the southern terminus at U.S. 61 north to Interstate 10/Exit 209. The corridor is seeing rapid development, as more and more residents seek asylum from the city of New Orleans in the quieter swamplands. North of the Interstate 10/55/U.S. 51 triangle, the route overlaps with Interstate 55 for 27 miles. The first and second generations of U.S. 51 remain along the northbound side of the Interstate 55 viaduct, serving sleepy fishing shacks and villages along the way.
Originally overlapped with U.S. 51, 65, and 71, U.S. 61 has been superceded by Interstate 10 from Baton Rouge southeastward to central New Orleans. The highway is multi lane and divided throughout the metropolitan area. Traffic is moderate to heavy, as the highway offers an alternative to Interstate 10 between Laplace and Reserve eastward to Saint Rose and the New Orleans International Airport. Within the Kenner and Metairie vicinity, the highway is typical of southeastern U.S. built up areas, with heavy commercial development along the right-of-way. An end sign is posted as the southern terminus, located at the intersection of Broad and Tulane Avenues.
It is surprising to see U.S. 90 retains its convoluted street routing throughout the city of New Orleans. Where other cities have relocated to their U.S. highways, U.S. 90 remains relatively in tact throughout the greater New Orleans Metropolitan area. The highway enters the area across the Rigolets with two lanes, passing by coastal homes and swamps along the way. It is not until southwest of the U.S. 11 southern terminus that U.S. 90 sees an increase in development. At Interstate 510 however, the highway is well within the city limits, and the area residences and commercial buildings reflect this.
However, it is not until U.S. 90 crosses the Inner Harbor Navigational Canal that the roadway passes traditional dense urban scenery. The highway enters the city as the Chef Menteur Highway, then transitions Gentilly Avenue and Broad Avenue at Interstate 610. Southward the highway passes through residential neighborhoods until the intersection with U.S. 61/Tulane Avenue. At this point the route turns towards downtown and Claiborne Avenue near the Louisiana Superdome. Originally the highway used Canal Street, but this was relocated sometime after the 1960s.
From downtown to the west, U.S. 90 takes the curved alignment of Catherine Street westward out of the city, to the Jefferson Highway. It is near the Jefferson Heights area, that the roadway elevates in dramatic fashion over the cantilever Huey P. Long railroad/roadway span over the Mississippi River. Crossing into Bridge City, U.S. 90 passes Louisiana 18/Old Spanish Trail, before seeing an old style interchange with Business U.S. 90 as the route returns to a westward trajectory en route to Boutte and Houma. Of course, this routing will change dramatically once Interstate 49 is constructed.
Pontchartrain Expressway/Westbank Expressway
Not really a Business Route in the sense of traditional business routes, the Westbank Expressway spurs southward from downtown New Orleans and Interstate 10 to Gretna, Harvey, and other Westbank communities. The Pontchartrain Expressway portion of U.S. 90 Business saw reconstruction in the early 1990s resulting in a redesigned stack interchange at Interstate 10 and new viaducts southward to the Greater New Orleans/Crescent City Connection cantilever bridges. A reversible two-lane HOV facility was also constructed during the project. The HOV roadway travels between the Crescent City Connection toll plaza northward to Loyola Avenue.
The Westbank Expressway begins at the Mississippi River Bridge and travels westward to U.S. 90 at Avondale.
The freeway carries six lanes overall and is elevated from the Crescent City Connection & Greater New Orleans
Bridges westward to Ames Avenue. The six lane Harvey Canal bridge crosses over the original tunnel
crossing under the navigation channel. Justin Priola adds (07/25/02):
"The Harvey Tunnel still exists, only under the high rise bridge. It serves to connect the Westbank Expressway service roads across the Harvey Canal. I myself didn't know that it still existed until I investigated one day. The tunnel used to serve as the expressway mainline when it was only an at-grade highway with traffic lights. Today the service roads, which originally didn't cross the canal, have been altered to lead into and through the tunnel. The tunnel is of 1950's vintage with four narrow lanes and a median separator."
U.S. 90 Business reverts to the original frontage road system from Ames Avenue westward to U.S. 90. A wide grassy median exists between the roadways for the eventual extension of the Westbank Expressway and Interstate 49. Traffic is very heavy throughout this roadway and the sooner Interstate 49 is built, the better.
The Westbank Expressway itself saw reconstruction during the 1980s. The project entailed building 8.5 miles worth of six-lane viaduct and the high level Harvey Canal Bridge. The freeway project cost $365 million.1
All of U.S. 90 Business will eventually be the last leg of the extended Interstate 49, part of High Priority Corridor 1/37. In the meantime, Future Corridor Interstate 49 placards are posted throughout the routing.
Earhart Expressway / Vieux Carre Expressway
Origins of the never built Vieux Carre Expressway date back to 1946 when New York transportation pioneer Robert Moses unveiled his "Arterial Plan for New Orleans". The Vieux Carre or Riverfront Expressway was Moses' most controversial element of the plan. However criticism of the idea did not emerge until October of 1964 when $25 million in funds was allocated to the 3.5-mile freeway project. At this time a 690 foot long and 98 foot wide six-lane tunnel was already under construction. The subterranean roadwork began between Poydras and Canal Streets in the foundations of the 1967 opened Rivergate. From there a heated battle ensued between proponents of the Riverfront Expressway and community leaders. The freeway was to straddle the Mississippi Riverfront between Elysian Fields Avenue and the Pontchartrain Expressway. Opposition finally won out July of 1969.2
The Riverfront Expressway project was to tie directly into the Earhart Expressway (Louisiana 3139). A study in 1969 tried to reinforce the concept of an outer belt freeway system between the Riverfront and Earhart Expressways. The plan would also involve a new Mississippi River crossing uptown via Earhart Boulevard at Napoleon Avenue.2 The Earhart Expressway was to travel between Louisiana 49 (Williams Boulevard) near New Orleans International Airport eastward to the Pontchartrain Expressway via Earhart Boulevard. Following the cancellation of the Riverfront Expressway proposal, the Earhart Expressway was rescinded westward to the New Orleans city limits at the Jefferson Parish line. The portion of the highway within Jefferson Parish was constructed. However, ghost ramps remain for a never built interchange with Causeway Boulevard and from what looks to be a never built access road to U.S. 61 (Airline Highway) at Shrewsbury. The western terminus occurs at a partially built interchange with Louisiana 3154 (Dickory Drive). The eastern terminus transitions Louisiana 3139 into Earhart Boulevard en route towards downtown New Orleans. The state highway officially ends at the boulevard intersection with Monroe Street.
Justin Priola adds (07/25/02):
"The routing of I-310 was to be part of the Riverfront Expressway, a proposed downtown elevated highway. Starting at the Pontchartrain Expwy. (right at the foot of the Miss. River bridge), the highway would have followed the riverbank north from there, cutting through the CBD and the French Quarter, then turning inland at Elysian Fields and following its median (like I-10 does on Claiborne) to a junction with I-10 at the present Elysian Fields exit (one reason why it's so large). The Riverfront Expressway would also have continued upriver (but not I-310) from the Pontchartrain Expwy. to connect with a proposed Miss. River bridge uptown and with the Earhart Expwy. The highway was killed mainly because it would have ruined the Quarter (can you imagine an elevated expressway in front of Jackson Square NOT ruining the Quarter?). One piece of the highway was actually built, but you can't see it - a tunnel under what is now Harrah's casino - that Harrah's uses now for a valet parking garage. For in-depth information, read "The Second Battle of New Orleans" by Borah and Baumbuch, all about the expressway controversy - a must read."
Louisiana 23 begins at Gretna and travels southwards to Belle Chase and the New Orleans Naval Air Station. This highway is the only route to travel southward along the Mississippi River towards the delta. The southern terminus is situated at Venice, 75 miles south of the city. Before the completion of the Greater New Orleans Bridge (U.S. 90 Business), Louisiana 23 utilized the Jackson Avenue Ferry between Gretna and the city, following Jackson Avenue northward to U.S. 90/South Claiborne Avenue. This Jackson Avenue portion and Louisiana 23 from the ferry landing to Louisiana 18 on the southshore were originally Louisiana 2, with the rest of the highway south of Harvey designated as Louisiana 31. The Pelican State renumbered its highway system around 1957-58.
North Claiborne Avenue
State highway beginning at U.S. 90 near downtown on Claiborne Avenue and paralleling the Interstate 10 viaduct underneath at first. At Exit 236C of Interstate 10, Claiborne Avenue turns towards towards the southeast across the Inner Harbor Navigational Canal into eastern reaches of the city. The highway serves Jackson's Barracks, Arabi, and Chalmette in Saint Bernard Parish while paralleling the Mississippi River en route to Bohemia well to the south. The original Louisiana 39 followed the current Louisiana 46 routing from Elysian Fields Avenue eastward to Chalmette. The switch in highways occurred in the late 1960s.
Constructed after the mid 1960s, Clearview Parkway links the Huey P. Long Bridge/U.S. 90 and the Jefferson Highway with U.S. 61/Airline Parkway. The highway is divided and carries six lanes of traffic between the two U.S. routes. Highlights include an expansive cloverleaf interchange with the Earhart Expressway/Louisiana 3139 (cancelled Interstate 310). Louisiana 3152 constitutes 1.62 miles.
|The first eastbound Louisiana 406 shield one sees as the state highway begins its journey from Louisiana 23 in the Belle Chase vicinity. A typical adopt-a-road sign is posted with this shield, as it features a pelican (the state bird). Photo taken 08/02/02.|
|A rural-like setting graces Louisiana 406 eastbound motorists in southern New Orleans. This is a stark contrast from other environs of the densely populated city, and one has to speculate as to how long before this area blossoms with development. In the background is the Louisiana 407 Intracoastal Waterway Bridge. Photo taken 08/02/02.|
|Guide sign on Louisiana 406 eastbound at the northbound beginning of Louisiana 406. Traffic continuing north eventually turns east than south, along the trajectory of the Mississippi River. Ultimately Louisiana 406 loops back around to English Turn, but as the sign displays, does not connect with any other roadway that leads back. Photo taken 08/02/02.|
|Shield assembly at the Louisiana 406/407 junction on eastbound. Louisiana 406 widens to four lanes at the bridge because of turning truck traffic. So with Louisiana 406 and 407 intersecting, where is Louisiana 408? Well the answer to that question is 90 miles to the northwest in the city of Baton Rouge. Photo taken 08/02/02.|
Louisiana 407 crosses the Intracoastal Waterway between Orleans and Plaquemines Parish across the Algiers Cutoff Canal Bridge. The fixed crossing travels 100 feet above the canal water below. The bridge opened in 1985 at a cost of $20.8 million, replacing a vertical lift truss span.1
A four lane divided surface arterial connecting Interstate 10 with the Louis Armstrong/New Orleans International Airport in the city of Kenner. The highway recently saw decorative lighting and a concrete divider installed in lieu of a double yellow line. The roadway still maintains a low 35 mph speed limit. The Kenner Police Department has been known to strictly enforce the speed limit on Airport Boulevard.
The home to partying in New Orleans and the Vieux Carre, Bourbon Street is open to vehicular traffic by day and to pedestrian only traffic at night. The architecture is fascinating as one walks down the street, with shops, jazz bars and clubs, eateries, and even nudie bars, among what one will find with the Bourbon Street experience. The contrasts of the street day versus night are stark, with a complete change in atmosphere. During the day, people mill about, with occasional music being played, but everyone is pretty much in check. At night however, the scene heats up as thousands of patrons fill the street and sidewalks creating a live and festive party. There really is no comparison!
It derives its name from a canal that was never dug in its neutral ground. During the mid 19th century Canal Street was renamed to Touro Street only to be renamed Canal Street by public demand.3 The street is a four to six lane thoroughfare from the Mississippi waterfront near the New Orleans Convention Center and New Orleans World Trade Center northwestward through Interstate 10 towards New Orleans City Park. During colonial times, this street composed the western wall of the original settlement (which consists of just the French Quarter). Nowadays the street tingles with taxi cabs, busses, delivery vehicles, and tourists from Interstate 10 to the waterfront.
A main street connecting the hotel district along Saint Charles Street with the French Quarter and Bourbon Street. In fact, the Saint Charles street car line extends eastward to the Quarter from the Howard Street roundabout via Carondelet to a southern turn along Canal Street. Carondelet eventually changes names and becomes the infamous Bourbon Street when crossing into the Vieux Carre.
Elysian Fields Avenue
A parkway like street from Esplanade Avenue on the eastern fringe of the Vieux Carre northward through Interstate 10 and 610 to the Ponchartrain Beach and the University of New Orleans. The roadway carries four lanes and is divided from Interstate 610 south towards the Mississippi River waterfront. The highway is a good alternative to the French Quarter in lieu of congested Canal Street. Louisiana 3021 composes 1.83 miles of the avenue between U.S. 90 (Gentilly Boulevard) and Louisiana 39 (N. Claiborne Avenue).
A lost highway in a sense, Jackson Street once carried U.S. 90 and Louisiana 2 from a ferry landing on the Mississippi River northward to Claiborne Avenue. The routing coincided with a ferry landing on the west bank of the river at Harvey, and was a part of the overall routing of U.S. 90 in Louisiana early on. When U.S. 90 was later relocated on its current path near Tulane University, Louisiana 23 took over the ferry and Jackson Street routing from Harvey northbound. Soon after the completion of the original Greater New Orleans Bridge, Louisiana 23 was relocated again to the east through Gretna and the West Bank portion of the city. Unfortunately what is left today is a dilapidated boulevard through economically repressed neighborhoods.
Saint Charles Avenue
One of many divided boulevards within the city of New Orleans, Saint Charles Street differs in that the median is lined with a streetcar line. The four lane thoroughfare links the hotel district south of the central business district with the French Quarter. The Saint Charles Streetcar line offers an alternative to car travel between the two destinations. The cars themselves are painted green, unlike the red cars of the Riverfront streetcar line.
Scenes around the Vieux Carre
- Andy P. Jung
- Justin Priola
- 1 - "Major Bridges of Louisiana." Preconstruction Pages (LADOTD), Volume 2,1.
- 2 - "Moses' New Orleans." Fred Robertson, http://www.robertsongovernor.org/moses.htm.
- 3 = Sketchler, Marc. Email: "Canal Street New Orleans name origin," August 19, 2007.
Page Updated January 17, 2008