― from Motor Age, February 5, 1920, page 26.
BATON ROUGE, LA., Feb. 2—The state of Louisiana, through its State Highway Department, of which Duncan Buie is chief, is at work today on the construction of seven main trunk highways, all of which cross the state, either north and south or east and west, and all of which connect not only with the various parish roads of the state, but with the great transcontinental highways, north and south and east and west through the state and around its borders.
These seven great highways have a total length, within the state, of 1375 miles, of which 547 miles have been completed, 344 now under construction; 63 miles advertised for bids; 300 miles surveyed and being platted, and 60 miles being surveyed, leaving only 61 miles on which nothing has been done toward construction in the near future. These main trunk lines passing through Louisiana are:
1—The Spanish Trail*, or Southern National Highway, entering the state from Texas, near Lake Charles, La., and extending easterly through Jennings, Crowley, Lafayette, New Iberia, Houma, Slidell and Pearl River into Mississippi. This road, nationally speaking, runs from Jacksonville, Fla., to San Diego, California.
2—The Jackson Highway, which enters the state from Mississippi. via Pearl River and Bay St. Louis and runs through Chef Menteur and along the Lakes Pontchartrain and Borgne to end at New Orleans. The northern terminus of this highway is at Buffalo, N. Y.
3—The Jefferson Highway, entering the state near Shreveport, 300 miles north of New Orleans, and extending southeasterly through Mansfield, Natchitoches, Alexandria, Melville and Baton Rouge to its southern terminus at New Orleans. The northern terminal of this highway is at Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada.
4—The Dixie Overland Highway, or that part of it which extends across the northern section of Louisiana, through Shreveport, Arcadia, Ruston, Monroe, Rayville, Tallulah and Delta.
5—The Pelican Highway†, extending from Lake Charles northeasterly through Oberlin, Alexandria, Camp Beauregard, Columbia and Monroe and ending at the Louisiana-Arkansas state line.
6—The Ozark Cutoff ‡, beginning at the Arkansas line and extending southerly through Lake Providence, Tallulah, St. Joseph and Vidalia, thence to Natchez and across a corner of the state of Mississippi back into Louisiana to St. Francisville and on to connect with the Jefferson Highway at Baton Rouge.
7—The Mississippi Highway§, beginning at New Orleans and extending northerly through Hammond and Amite to the Louisiana-Mississippi line, where it connects with the model highway extending through Brookhaven to Jackson, Miss.
Extending across the state in various directions, these highways traverse the most productive and most densely populated sections. They connect the six largest cities of Louisiana and make the capital, Baton Rouge, and the chief port, New Orleans, easily accessible from all parts of the state. They extend through 75 per cent of the state's 63 parishes, and in this 75 per cent are contained 89 per cent of the state's assessed valuation and 93 per cent of its population.
All the culverts, bridges and other drainage structures on these highways are being constructed of reinforced concrete. The surfacing is either sand-clay gravel, washed gravel, or a mixture of the two. The regrettable part of this road construction is the use of these materials, which require constant maintenance and practical reconstruction every few years, but Louisiana road-building has not yet progressed to the point of broken stone foundation and concrete surfacing, without which no permanent road can be maintained all the year round in the South. The mixed sand-clay gravel and washed gravel, however, has one merit, in that it settles and packs well, and may, at some future date, form a good foundation for real hard surfaced roads.
* The road discussed is the Old Spanish Trail. The Spanish Trail was actually an auto trail in Colorado that is US 160 today. The Southern National Highway was an early auto trail connecting Washington, D.C. and San Diego. It had a northern and southern branch. Through Louisiana, the southern branch followed the same alignment as the Old Spanish Trail.
† This is the road that is now US 165. It was once part of an auto trail network called the Lone Star Route.
‡ This is the road that is now US 65.
§ This is the road that is now US 51. In the early period of the Lee Highway, this was the route that highway took when it went south to New Orleans. Later, this was part of the Jefferson Davis Highway.