Louisiana's Road to Nowhere

Despite its name, Interstate 49 runs entirely within Louisiana, connecting the cities of Lafayette and Shreveport. The highway will link New Orleans and Kansas City, if existing plans are carried out.

I appreciate the existence of this road on the 1,104-mile jaunt between Florida and Dallas, because it makes possible a jump from I-10 to I-20 while still making good time westward. But it could be the most featureless interstate I've ever driven.

There's nothing to recommend this drive. No cities or stops of interest, aside from a Semolina restaurant in Alexandria I loved until a suspect shrimp dish made me decree a no-seafood policy on road trips. No Kodak moments. No nice hotels. No traffic.

The lack of traffic's a plus, of course, but it raises the question of how such a little-needed highway got built. I'd love to find out which Louisiana politician had enough juice in Washington to get I-49 funded in the '60s and '70s.

I think I-49 induced boredom motivated another driver to road rage. Without provocation, he intentionally kept himself in my blind spot for a half hour, whether I was driving 65 mph or 85 mph. (Seemed like a dumb thing to do in a car with federal license plates that identified his agency and vehicle.)

The only sizeable city is Alexandria, but the highway deftly avoids any of its picturesque or historic areas. The last two times I've stopped, I didn't find anything but miles of grubby commercial strip malls and uninviting hotels on MacArthur Drive, so I jumped back on I-49 and kept going.

Comments

Interstate 49 could become an important hurricane evacuation route.

The highways and interstates in Louisiana are a mess whenever a hurricane looks like it might hit close to New Orleans.

Rogers...that car was trailing you. It was a member of the Bush team. They've read your blog, and they don't like what they're seeing, mister! :)

Is this the Louisiana highway where local (or was it state) police liked to stop high-priced out-of-state cars to find some reason to impound them under the RICO law? Just the other day I was remembering the investigative report where reporters drove through Louisiana, staying well below the speed limit and never even changing lanes and got stopped anyway. Of course, when a gov't official was asked why this happened, he would only say that the officer 'must have had a good reason'. I wished they managed to get him to go along for a ride, so he could ask the next officer in person.BTW, if you're wondering about pork-barrel interstate highway politics, the impression I've gotten is that Robert Byrd's money grabs for West Virginia can't be beat.

Most important trip recommendation I can make about Interstate 49 is, fill up in Shreveport of Baton Rouge (190 is a great way to shave about 15 miles off your treck). Don't even think of trying to make it on a half tank of gas. I've been traveling back and forth on 49 for almost ten years, in between Destin and Denver where I grew up. About seven years ago I found out the hard way how few gas stations there are along that stretch of road. But I have to say, it's also one of the smoothest, greenest, high speed hauls you'll ever make.

Rover Daddy it's Interstate I-10 near Lake Charles where the high-priced cars were stopped with hopes of invoking RICO. Not that anyone cares but I-49 is crucial for anyone in the southeast portion of the state - New Orleans , Slidell Baotn Rouge - for reaching Shreveport and other points north.

You've read this weblog, J.R. The threshold for whether anyone would care is very low.

Got any good advice on places to stop on I-49?

I was not born in 70's but my grandpa told me about that time.you write such anice article.

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