Airline Highway

From the AARoads Wiki: Read about the road before you go
Jump to navigation Jump to search

Airline Highway

Route of the Airline Highway highlighted in red
Route information
Maintained by Louisiana DOTD
Length115.6 mi[1] (186.0 km)
Existed1925 (planned);
1927 (first section opened);
1953 (last section opened)–present
US 61 from New Orleans to Baton Rouge
US 190 from Baton Rouge to near Krotz Springs
Major junctions
Southeast end US 61 in New Orleans
Major intersections I-10 in New Orleans

I-310 in St. Rose
US 51 in LaPlace
I-10 southeast of Sorrento

I-12 / US 190 / I-110 / US 61 in Baton Rouge
Northwest end US 190 east of Krotz Springs
CountryUnited States
ParishesOrleans, Jefferson, St. Charles, St. John the Baptist, St. James, Ascension, East Baton Rouge, West Baton Rouge, Pointe Coupee
Highway system
  • Louisiana State Highway System

Airline Highway is a divided highway in the U.S. state of Louisiana, built in stages between 1925 and 1953 to bypass the older Jefferson Highway. It runs 115.6 miles (186.0 km),[1] carrying U.S. Highway 61 from New Orleans northwest to Baton Rouge and U.S. Highway 190 from Baton Rouge west over the Mississippi River on the Huey P. Long Bridge. US 190 continues west towards Opelousas on an extension built at roughly the same time.

The highway was named "Airline" because it runs relatively straight on a new alignment, rather than alongside the winding Mississippi River. (Compare with the similar term air-line railroad.) The name later became even more fitting, as both Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport and Baton Rouge Metropolitan Airport were built along the highway. Airline Highway also runs close to the site of the old Baton Rouge airfield (near the intersection of Airline and Florida Boulevard, now a park and government office complex), which brings it within blocks of the similarly named Airport Avenue and Airway Drive.


The highway's origin is famously identified with Governor Huey P. Long, who advocated for a modern highway system in Louisiana. Though the project was underway when Long took office, most of its initial construction was completed during his administration. The Airline Highway was considered a pet project of Long's as it reduced the length of his journey between the capitol building in Baton Rouge and the bars and establishments in New Orleans, namely The Sazerac Bar in the Roosevelt Hotel.[2] Originally, Airline Highway was a two-lane road that ran from Prairieville to Shrewsbury. The first section, running between Williams Boulevard in Kenner and Shrewsbury Road, opened in June 1927.[3] It was begun by the Jefferson Parish Police Jury as a local road and incorporated into the plan for Airline Highway during construction.[4] The remainder of the highway was built between 1928 and 1933 by the Louisiana Highway Commission with federal aid, as the road would carry US 61 upon completion.

The section north of the spillway was officially opened on July 4, 1933,[5] and the section on the south side followed three weeks later.[6] (Various sections had been temporarily opened to traffic beginning in October 1931.) Completion of the bridge over the Bonnet Carré Spillway was delayed until 1935, necessitating a detour over the Jefferson Highway (River Road) via temporary gravel roads along the spillway guide levees.[7] The spillway bridge was opened to traffic on September 28, 1935[8] and dedicated on December 13.[9]

At this time, traffic was routed from Prairieville into Baton Rouge over the Jefferson Highway (today's LA 73). On the New Orleans end, travelers had the option to continue on Airline Highway and follow Metairie Road (the original route of Jefferson Highway) into town or transfer to the Jefferson Highway (today's LA 48) at Kenner and follow the direct connection onto South Claiborne Avenue completed in 1928.

The first improvements to the Airline Highway began in 1935 and consisted of widening and re-surfacing the Kenner-Shrewsbury link built a decade earlier. The new four-lane section from Williams Boulevard to Haring Road opened in October 1937.[10] The new four- and six-lane section from Haring Road to Labarre Road opened in December 1938.[11] The latter project included a slight re-alignment and extension on the Shrewsbury end. (Present-day Robertson Street is a remnant of the old alignment.) The eight-lane extension into Tulane Avenue (reached by a now-demolished six-lane bridge over the former New Basin Canal) was officially opened on August 26, 1940.[12]

Also in 1940, the Old Mississippi River Bridge opened in Baton Rouge. With this occurrence, a 7.9 mile bypass was built around the city that went to the Nesser Overpass, opening to traffic in July 1941—this bypass was part of Airline Highway, but it was not connected to the rest of the highway until 1953. A further extension continued west to the Atchafalaya Bridge at Krotz Springs. The remainder of the highway was multilaned in sections during the 1940s and the 1950s. For a short time in that decade, it was the longest toll-free four-lane highway in the nation, as the multilaned portion ran 124 miles from the Atchafalaya River to New Orleans.[13] The spillway bridge carried four very narrow lanes of traffic (often resulting in accidents) until 1984 when a parallel bridge was constructed.[14]

The majority of the New Orleans-Baton Rouge section was built parallel to the Louisiana Railway and Navigation Company, which was itself built later than the slightly longer Yazoo and Mississippi Valley Railroad. The former Louisiana Railway, now part of the Kansas City Southern Railway, crosses the Huey Long Bridge with the highway and splits to the northwest towards Shreveport; the extension to Opelousas parallels the New Orleans, Texas and Mexico Railway (later part of the Missouri Pacific Railroad).

Originally US Highways 65 and 51 were cosigned to Airline (65 the entire length, and 51 from LaPlace to New Orleans). In 1951, Louisiana truncated the route lengths, and the highway, with the exception of a portion in north Baton Rouge, is signed as US 61.

In an effort to clean up the highway's notorious history due to the seedy hotels and motels that once lined it, the portion in Jefferson Parish has been renamed Airline Drive.

Baton Rouge bypass

Sign showing the intersection of U.S. Highway 61 (Airline Highway) at U.S. Highway 51 in LaPlace, Louisiana
1955 Interstate Highway plans, showing the Baton Rouge bypass on the Airline Highway as an urban route (numbered I-410 by 1959)

The portion of the Airline Highway north and east of downtown Baton Rouge carries U.S. Highway 61 and U.S. Highway 190 around downtown, and includes several interchanges. The bypass was designated U.S. Highway 61/190 Bypass from 1957 to 1963, after which US 61 and US 190 were moved onto it, and their old routes through downtown became US 61 Business/US 190 Business. The bypass and business routes originally intersected in a traffic circle, which was replaced in 1963 by a cloverleaf interchange.

In the original 1955 plan for urban Interstate Highways, numbered by 1959, the Baton Rouge bypass was designated Interstate 410; it would have connected to Interstate 10 on both ends (as I-10 would have used the US 190 corridor immediately west of Baton Rouge, still crossing the Atchafalaya Swamp in its present location). The route was cancelled by the end of the 1960s, and the number was later reused for another I-410 (which itself was cancelled in 1977).

Major intersections

OrleansNew Orleans0.00.0
US 61 south (Tulane Avenue)
Southeastern terminus; south end of US 61 concurrency

I-10 west – N.O. Int'l Airport, Baton Rouge (northbound)

I-10 east to US 90 Bus. – Westbank (southbound)
Exit 232 on I-10

LA 3046 south (Causeway Boulevard) to US 90 (Jefferson Highway)
Interchange; northern terminus of LA 3046 (not signed)
3.25.1 LA 611-9 (Severn Avenue)Western terminus of LA 611-9; to Metairie Road

To LA 3139 south (Earhart Expressway)
At Cleary Avenue
LA 3152 north (Clearview Parkway)

LA 3152 south (South Clearview Parkway) to LA 3139 (Earhart Expressway)
LA 3154 south (Hickory Avenue) – Harahan
Northern terminus of LA 3154
6.410.3 LA 3155 (Little Farms Avenue)Northern terminus of LA 3155 (not signed)

LA 49 north (Williams Boulevard) to I-10
Southern terminus of LA 49
St. CharlesSt. Rose12.119.5 LA 50 (Almedia Road) – AlmediaNorthern terminus of LA 50
I-310 – Boutte, Baton RougeExit 2 on I-310
Destrehan13.822.2 LA 626 (St. Rose Avenue) – Destrehan, St. RoseNorthern terminus of LA 626
Norco17.828.6 LA 627 (Prospect Avenue)Northern terminus of LA 627
LA 48 east (Apple Street)
Western terminus of LA 48
U.S. 61 Bonnet Carré Spillway Bridge
LA 628 west (CC Road) – Montz
Eastern terminus of LA 628
St. John the BaptistLaPlace22.135.6
LA 3217 south
Northern terminus of LA 3217
LA 636-1 south (McReine Road)
Northern terminus of LA 636-1
LA 44 west (Main Street)
Eastern terminus of LA 44

US 51 north to I-10 / I-55
Southern terminus of US 51

LA 3188 north (Belle Terre Boulevard) to I-10
Southern terminus of LA 3188
LA 3179 south (East 22nd Street)
Northern terminus of LA 3179
LA 53 south (Central Avenue) – Reserve–Edgard Ferry
Northern terminus of LA 53
LA 637 south (West 10th Street)
Northern terminus of LA 637
LA 54 south – Garyville, Mt. Airy
Northern terminus of LA 54
St. James36.959.4

LA 641 north to I-10

LA 641 south to LA 3213 – Gramercy, Lutcher, Convent
LA 3213 southbound leads to Gramercy Bridge (not signed)
Gramercy38.261.5 LA 3274 (North Airline Avenue)Northern terminus of LA 3274

I-10 west – Baton Rouge (northbound)

I-10 east – New Orleans (southbound)
Exit 187 on I-10
46.574.8 LA 3140Western terminus of LA 3140
Sorrento50.180.6 LA 22 – Sunshine Bridge, Donaldsonville
Brittany52.384.2 LA 30 – LSU
LA 431 – Port Vincent, Denham Springs
Eastern terminus of LA 30; southern terminus of LA 431
Gonzales54.187.1 LA 939 (South Purpera Avenue)Eastern terminus of LA 939
54.587.7 LA 3038 (East Cornerview Street)Eastern terminus of LA 3038
54.888.2 LA 429 (Weber City Road, East Ascension Street)
55.789.6 LA 44 (North Burnside Avenue)
LA 74 west
Eastern terminus of LA 74
57.792.9 LA 621
LA 73 south (Old Jefferson Highway)
South end of LA 73 concurrency
LA 73 north (Old Jefferson Highway)
North end of LA 73 concurrency
LA 42 east
South end of LA 42 concurrency
62.9101.2 LA 427 (Perkins Road)
East Baton Rouge65.2104.9
LA 42 west / LA 948 (Highland Road)
North end of LA 42 concurrency; western terminus of LA 948
Baton Rouge68.9110.9
LA 73 south (Jefferson Highway)
South end of LA 73 concurrency
LA 3246 west (Siegen Lane)
Eastern terminus of LA 3246

LA 73 north (Jefferson Highway)
Interchange; northbound exit and southbound entrance;
North end of LA 73 concurrency
Baton Rouge71.0–
I-12 – Baton Rouge, HammondExit 2A–B on I-12
71.9115.7 LA 426 (Old Hammond Highway)

US 190 east (Florida Boulevard) – Hammond

US 61 Bus. / US 190 Bus. (Florida Boulevard)
Interchange; east end of US 190 concurrency;
Southeastern terminus of US 61/190 Business
LA 37 (Greenwell Springs Road) – Baton Rouge, Greenwell SpringsInterchange
LA 67 (Plank Road) – BakerZachary, ClintonInterchange; no access to and from I-110.
I-110 – Baton Rouge, NatchezExit 5B on I-110; to Metro Airport and St. Francisville (secondary signage)

US 61 north (Scenic Highway) – Scotlandville

US 61 Bus. / US 190 Bus. (Scenic Highway)
Interchange; north end of US 61 concurrency; northwestern terminus of US 61/190 Business; to Southern University
East Baton Rouge
West Baton Rouge line
Huey P. Long Bridge over Mississippi River
West Baton Rouge82.5–

LA 1 south to I-10 – Port Allen, Plaquemine
Interchange; east end of LA 1 concurrency
LA 415 (Plantation Avenue) to I-10

LA 415 Spur south (North Lobdell Highway) to I-10 / I-12 / I-110
Westbound entrance and eastbound exit;
Northern terminus of LA 415 Spur
LA 1145 south (Calumet Road)
Northern terminus of LA 1145
LA 983 north (Bueche Road)
Southern terminus of LA 983
LA 413 (Poydras Bayou Road) to I-10 – Rosedale, Lakeland
Pointe Coupee97.2156.4
LA 1 north (Wye Road) – New Roads, Marksville
West end of LA 1 concurrency
LA 978 north (Bigman Lane)
Southern terminus of LA 978
Livonia104.4168.0 LA 78 (Mississippi River Trail) – False River, New Roads, St. Francisville
LA 411 (Maringouin Road East) – Maringouin, Rosedale, Ramah
Southern terminus of LA 78; northern terminus of LA 411
LA 77 (Fordoche Road, Maringouin Road West) to I-10 – Maringouin, Fordoche
Blanks106.9172.0 LA 976Northern terminus of LA 976
Lottie109.4176.1 LA 81 (Charles Road) – Fordoche, Morganza
Bridge over Morganza Spillway
115.4185.7 LA 975 – Sherburne, Sherburne Wildlife Management AreaInterchange; northern terminus of LA 975
US 190 west – Opelousas
Northwestern terminus; west end of US 190 conurrency;
At Atchafalaya River Bridge
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi


  1. ^ a b c Google (July 14, 2013). "Overview Map of Airline Highway" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved July 14, 2013.
  2. ^ Mahne, Theodore P. (June 30, 2009). "Huey Long just one chapter of storied history of New Orleans' Roosevelt Hotel, which reopens Wednesday". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans, LA. Retrieved May 3, 2015.
  3. ^ "News of Metairie and the highway". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans. June 1, 1927. p. 36.
  4. ^ "Airline route to state capital is feasible project". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans. July 19, 1925. pp. 4–1.
  5. ^ "Opening of airline route announced". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans. July 4, 1933. p. 1.
  6. ^ "Road to capital cut by opening of new section". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans. July 29, 1933. pp. 2–11.
  7. ^ "Driving distance to Baton Rouge will be reduced". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans. May 1, 1935. p. 1.
  8. ^ "Spillway bridge may be ready for use on Saturday". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans. September 24, 1935. p. 1.
  9. ^ "Throng to rally at Bonnet Carre Spillway today". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans. December 13, 1935. p. 1.
  10. ^ "Shrewsbury-Kenner Air Line Highway link open to traffic". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans. October 30, 1937. p. 1.
  11. ^ "Short-cut road on Baton Rouge route is opened". The Times-Picayune. New Orleans. December 20, 1938. p. 3.
  12. ^ "Air-Line Highway bridge ceremony slated Monday". The Times-Picayune New Orleans States. New Orleans. August 25, 1940. p. 1.
  13. ^ "Nation's longest toll-free four-lane highway nearing finish". The Times-Picayune New Orleans States. New Orleans. August 17, 1952. p. 2.
  14. ^ "New bridge over spillway opens quietly". The Times-Picayune/The States-Item. New Orleans. March 30, 1984. pp. 1–26.

External links