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Interstate 310 Louisiana

 

Interstate 310 lies wholly within St. Charles Parish, linking U.S. 90 at Boutte with Interstate 10 west of Kenner.

Routing

A freeway linking U.S. 90 and southern Louisiana to Interstate 10 and metropolitan New Orleans, Interstate 310 is elevated throughout most of its trek. The southern terminus is a stub end, with an possible extension planned south to the future Interstate 49. The northern terminus is located west of New Orleans International Airport at a enormous stack interchange elevated over a shallow bayou. With airport expansion likely, the airport's runways may extend over Interstate 310, or the freeway may have to be relocated.

The Hale Boggs Memorial Bridge (also known as the Luling-Destrehan Bridge) was constructed along with Interstate 310, but it opened in 1983, well before the final segment of freeway opened in 1993.3 It is one of the few cable stay bridges in the Southeast, and it cost $135 million to build in the early 1980s. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/15/05).

Future Aspirations

Interstate 310 was planned to extend south to Interstate 49; stub ramps are currently in place, though some more recent (2010 and later) concepts truncate Interstate 49 from an end in downtown New Orleans to a relocated alignment west to and including I-310.

Along with Interstate 510, Interstate 310 once was planned as part of a greater Interstate 410 outer belt for the New Orleans metropolitan area; this plan was deferred (if not outright canceled), but it has recently reemerged as a megaproject included in the Louisiana Statewide Transportation Plan Update under the same project that would expand the Chalmette Bridge (LSTP-029). Proposals to link Interstate 510 with Interstate 310 west of the city have been floated at various intervals over the past several decades; as a result of this report, the connection is again being considered by the Louisiana DOT as a possible solution to perennially clogged Interstate 10 between the airport and downtown. The connection is listed as part of Interstate 510, not Interstate 310.

Such a connection would be an addition to proposed freeways along Florida Avenue northeast of downtown New Orleans and the Louisiana 3139 / Earhart Expressway Extension west to the airport. This extension of Interstate 510 would resurrect the old Interstate 410 proposal and provide a third freeway connection. It is not clear how this new freeway would connect to Future Interstate 49; more than likely, Interstate 510 would end at Interstate 49/Business U.S. 90, while Interstate 49 would continue west to meet Interstate 310. Even with this freeway's appearance in the Statewide Transportation Plan Update, it is unclear if such a freeway would actually be constructed.

History

Interstate 310 was considered as a possible designation for Louisiana 3139 / Earhart Expressway; see that page for more details on that proposed but unused designation. In that capacity, Interstate 310 would have extended into downtown New Orleans as the Vieux Carre Expressway, an elevated riverfront highway passing through the French Quarter.

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". This freeway would begin at Interstate 10, following the Louisiana 3021 / Elysian Fields Avenue corridor, then head southeast between the Mississippi River and Jackson Square to Business U.S. 90/Interstate 910. The Vieux Carre or Riverfront Expressway was Moses' most controversial element of the arterial 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, 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 1969.1

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. 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.

For much more detail, we recommend reading the chapter on the Vieux Carre Expressway in Tom Lewis' excellent book Divided Highways (1997). It details the freeway battle in great detail, providing a glimpse at the neighborhood and human impact of these freeways at the micro-level. 2 In addition, there were two excellent web pages that went into detail:

  • Moses' New Orleans (Fred Robertson) (http://www.robertsongovernor.org/moses.htm) - In 1946, Robert Moses, the great freeway builder of New York, examined New Orleans and in November issued his report, "Arterial Plan for New Orleans." This site examined the impact of that report and the freeway plans on New Orleans.
  • ViewKeeper.Org: The Near Demise of the French Quarter http://www.viewkeeper.org/artmap_i310.html - included maps, diagrams, and photos to show the proposed yet unconstructed route of what would be known as Interstate 310 / Vieux Carre Expressway from the 1950s and chronicled in the book, The Second Battle of New Orleans, most of which took place in the 1960s.

Work on the modern version of Interstate 310 broke ground in 1976 on the $297.1-million freeway. The $124.2-million Hale Boggs bridge opened in 1983 across the Mississippi River. Construction followed with the 1988 opening of four miles of freeway between Luling and Boutte. The next project, at a cost of $64.6-million, extended the roadway northeast almost four miles to U.S. 61 (Airline Highway) at a ribbon cutting ceremony on July 24, 1991.3 This left the final 2.25-mile stretch between Airline Highway and Interstate 10 to be completed, and it was on May 7, 1993.4

Guide signs along Interstate 310 were temporary in nature until after the road fully opened to traffic between U.S. 90 and Interstate 10. A $1.5-million project undertaken between February and October 1993 replaced the small ground-level signs with aluminum truss based overhead and sign bridge asssemblies.5

Highway Guides

Southern Terminus - U.S. 90/Future Interstate 49 - Boutte, Louisiana
Perspective from Interstate 310 south
The final mainline interchange of Interstate 310 joins the freeway with Louisiana 3127 (River Parishes Highway) at Exit 10. The junction features a lengthy flyover from Interstate 310 north to Louisiana 3127 north. Interstate 310 otherwise draws to a close in 1.50 miles. Photo taken 06/10/06.
Interstate 310 currently ends at a half-diamond interchange with U.S. 90 by the community of Boutte. All traffic shifts from the ending freeway onto a two-lane off-ramp. Stubs remain at both viaduct ends for an extension southward to Interstate 49, or as the I-49 mainline, whichever proposal may come to fruition. Photo taken 06/10/06.
The Interstate 310 ramp split for U.S. 90 east and west. U.S. 90 travels southwest from this point to Raceland, Houma, Thibodaux, and Morgan City. The highway upgrades to a freeway in 14 miles. Photo taken 06/10/06.
Perspective from U.S. 90 west
U.S. 90 approaches Interstate 310 & Louisiana 3127 north after intersecting Louisiana 52 north and 633 south in Boutte. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/15/05).
A junction shield assembly precedes the half-diamond interchange with Interstate 310 & Louisiana 3127 north along U.S. 90 west. Photo taken 11/20/08.
Westbound U.S. 90 reaches Interstate 310 & Louisiana 3127 north to New Orleans International Airport and Donaldsonville. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/15/05).
Perspective from U.S. 90 east
Approaching the southern terminus of Interstate 310 on U.S. 90 eastbound. The forthcoming interchange also marks the southern terminus of Louisiana 3127. This lengthy state highway shares a brief overlap with the freeway before departing via Exit 10 to the Ascension Parish seat of Donaldsonville, 44 miles to the northwest. Photo taken by Jeff Royston (12/12/02).
Continuing beyond the southbound off-ramp, U.S. 90 passes through the I-310 half-diamond interchange and approaches the northbound ramp to Destrehan, Kenner and New Orleans. Photo taken 11/20/08.
U.S. 90 eastbound at the northbound beginning of Interstate 310 & Louisiana 3127. Interstate 310 will cross the Mississippi River in five miles and reach U.S. 61 near St. Rose in nine miles. Traffic continuing eastward on U.S. 90 will cross the Huey P. Long Bridge in 16 miles. Photo taken 11/20/08.
Northern Terminus - Interstate 10 - Kenner, Louisiana
Perspective from Interstate 310 north
A sprawling symmetrical stack interchange facilitates traffic movements between Interstate 310 north and U.S. 61 (Airline Highway) at Exit 2. This interchange is almost completely elevated due to the Labranche Wetlands. Featured in this photograph is the departure of the Exit 2 ramp and three mile guide sign for Interstate 10. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/15/05).
Interstate 310 continues 2.25 miles north U.S. 61 to conclude at Interstate 10 (Exit 1). Mainline traffic defaults onto Interstate 10 eastbound as the primary role of the highway is to bring southern Acadiana Parish traffic to New Orleans from U.S. 90 to the southwest. Photo taken 04/20/12.
Within one half mile of the northern terminus of Interstate 310. The city limits of New Orleans are 10 miles to the east; the capital city of Baton Rouge is 57 to the northwest. Photo taken 04/20/12.
Traffic partitions to Interstate 10 west (Exit 1) and Interstate 10 east (Exit 1A) at the north end of Interstate 310. Drivers continuing west travel the highest flyover of the interchange and next meet Interstate 55 in ten miles at Laplace. Photo taken by Alex Nitzman (06/01).
Perspective from Interstate 10 west
The last exit of New Orleans metro on Interstate 10 westbound is Exit 221 with Loyola Drive and the city of Kenner. Interstate 10 continues from Loyola Drive 1.25 miles to Interstate 310 in St. Charles Parish. Photo taken 04/20/12.
Interstate 10 west partitions with Interstate 310 south (Exit 220). The main function of Interstate 310 is the connection to U.S. 90 for points southwest including Houma, Morgan City, and Raceland. Otherwise the freeway provides a needed Mississippi River crossing between Destrehan and Luling while also serving St. Charles Parish and communities such as Saint Rose and Boutte. Interstate 10 and 310 constitute part of the world's longest continuous highway viaduct with the Interstate 55 between Laplace and Ponchatoula. Photo taken 04/20/12.
Passing through the elevated directional interchange between Interstates 10 and 310 along I-10 westbound. Photo taken by Steve Hanudel (08/15/05).
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 10 west
Interstate 55 10 miles at LaPlace, LA
Interstate 12 71 miles at Baton Rouge, LA
Interstate 110 75 miles at Baton Rouge, LA
Perspective from Interstate 10 east
Between the southern terminus of Interstate 55 and Interstate 310, Interstate 10 travels ten miles of uninterrupted viaduct. The bridges cross over the southwestern fringes of the Lake Pontchartrain, including the Bonnet Carre Spillway, and associated wetlands. Photo taken 10/22/03.
Greenouts on Exit 220 overheads display control cities of Boutte and Houma. Presumably Boutte was added later to the original control city of Houma. In addition to Interstate 310 connecting Interstate 10 with U.S. 90, it also provides alternate access to Louis Armstrong New Orleans International Airport (MSY) via the nearby U.S. 61 (Airline Highway). Photo taken 10/22/03.
With the sweeping stack interchange of Exit 220 coming into view, Interstate 10 is now within one half mile of the northern terminus of Interstate 310. Interstate 310, in conjunction with Interstate 510 at New Orleans East, make up what would have been the western and eastern reaches of the proposed Interstate 410 outer belt of New Orleans metropolitan area. Photo taken 10/22/03.
The longest continuous viaduct continues southward along Interstate 310 while Interstate 10 prepares to return to dry land within the city of Kenner. Photo taken by Jeff Royston (05/24/06).
Next Three Interstate Junctions for Interstate 10 east
Interstate 610 10 miles at New Orleans, LA
Interstate 49 future/
Interstate 910
14 miles at downtown New Orleans, LA
Interstate 510 26 miles at east New Orleans, LA

Sources:

  1. "Moses' New Orleans." Fred Robertson, http://www.robertsongovernor.org/moses.htm.
  2. Tom Lewis, Divided Highways New York: Viking, 1997.
  3. "SCISSORS SNIP OPENS I- 310 PATHWAY FOR ST. CHARLES." The Times-Picayune, July 24, 1991.
  4. "LAST LINK OF I- 310 COMPLETED." The Times-Picayune, May 8, 1993.
  5. "SIGN PROJECT FOR INTERSTATE IS UNDER WAY." The Times-Picayune, October 28, 1993.

Page Updated September 25, 2012.

 
Mileage

State Louisiana
Mileage 11.25
Cities New Orleans
Junctions Future Interstate 49, Interstate 10
Source: October 31, 2002 Interstate Route Log and Finders List
I-310 Louisiana Annual Average Daily Traffic

Parish From To AADT Composite
St. Charles Exit 1/ Interstate 10 Exit 2/ U.S. 61 41,591
St. Charles Exit 2/ U.S. 61 Exit 6/ Louisiana 48 32,339
St. Charles Exit 6/ Louisiana 48 Exit 7/ Louisiana 18 34,121
St. Charles Exit 7/ Louisiana 18 Exit 10/ Louisiana 3127 25,454
St. Charles Exit 10/ Louisiana 3127 Exit 11/ U.S. 90 27,219
Source: Louisiana 2001 Traffic Volume Monitoring (LADOTD)

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