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Historic images of Pontchartrain Expwy

Started by Urban Prairie Schooner, February 06, 2010, 09:42:43 PM

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Urban Prairie Schooner

The New Orleans Public Library has some interesting historical images of roadways around the city posted online, dating primarily from the 1950s. The Pontchartrain Expressway interchange with Airline Hwy/Carrollton Avenue (the "Toni Morrison" interchange) is extensively covered. This covers the interchange in its original configuration(s) before the major modification of the late 1970s when a 6 lane viaduct was constructed for mainline I-10 to bypass the original interchange structure.  The 1950s structure is still in use as the ramps for the current interchange, with the original mainline now in use to access the original exit and entrance ramps.

The link for the images is at (this includes streets from around the city, including the freeways). "Pontchartrain Blvd." and "Carrollton interchange" links to the below photos.

Note: In reference to freeway directions, westbound (WB) is also lakebound; eastbound (EB) is also riverbound.

Original schematic layout of interchange:

The original freeway enters at right, navigates the interchange, then exits to the left as at grade Pontchartrain Blvd. (converted to freeway ca. 1961-62)

An overview of the area pre-freeway (March 1952), looking to the northwest (lakeward):

Airline Hwy. (US 61) is the overpassing roadway and the future freeway ROW is clearly visible. The ROW claimed the former route of the New Basin Canal (filled in during the 1930s and 1940s) providing an ideal limited access alignment with little to no structural clearance necessary. Note the existing Pontchartrain Blvd. extending along the left side of the ROW toward the north (lakeward). Also note the railroad that parallels the old canal ROW. The ballpark at lower right is the former Pelican Stadium (removed 1957).

Construction images (1956, looking to the south or riverward):

The ramp from Airline Hwy WB to current WB I-10, formerly Pontchartrain Blvd. Note the antiquated railing of the Airline Hwy. overpass suggesting a 1940s vintage. This overpass (originally constructed to cross the RR line) still exists and is the oldest component of the interchange having predated it by some years.

The final configuration, this time looking lakeward (these images date from 1957-59):

Currently this merge is hidden under the 1970s viaduct and ultimately merges into I-10. The surface road is the original mainline and it currently carries traffic from Carrollton onto WB I-10. Note that the freeway ends in the distance; the carriageway merges into the original Pontchartrain Blvd. (Pontchartrain Blvd. is still the name for the I-10 frontage road in this area).

Onramp from Carrollton to the current WB freeway, still in existence, looking riverward:

Note the wide ROW in the background, which was later used for the freeway extending toward downtown.

Another view looking lakeward:

The stub ramp is for the future freeway mainline toward downtown.

Looking lakeward on the future mainline (currently used as ramps to access WB Airline):

This would have been the route to access Airline then as well. The overpass is Airline Hwy and the carriageway at right brings traffic from Carrollton to the lakebound freeway. BTW, the Crystal Hot Sauce billboard to the far right is still there today (natives of the city will recognize it immediately).

Looking riverbound, the mainline enters the interchange, passing under Airline:

This ramp is still used to access Airline and Carrollton from I-10 EB. Also note the guardrail for the Airline overpass has been changed to match the 1950s motif.

A similar view from the lakebound offramp to Airline:

This image looks into the flow of oncoming traffic; directly behind is the infamous dead man's curve.

North of the interchange the ramps merge into Pontchartrain Blvd (view is lakeward):

Pontchartrain Blvd. approaching the railroad underpass of doom now used for I-10 in the area (this view riverward):

In 1961, construction to extend the freeway lakeward from the interchange commenced:

Compare to the fourth photo of this series.

From these photos we can gather that the interchange was opened to traffic to link to lakebound Pontchartrain Blvd. ca. 1957; was connected to the freeway coming from downtown ca. 1959; and the freeway was extended lakeward ca. 1961.

A few more goodies:

1960 view from the Broad Ave. overpass looking lakeward; we can view the original configuration of the freeway between downtown and Airline Hwy. This segment is currently 10 lanes with a jersey barrier median and was presumably reconstructed at the same time the aforementioned viaduct was constructed (mid 1970s).

And one more:

I love 1970s cars. The freeway remains in its original configuration, save the addition of a metal crossover barrier in the median. Location is north of the Jeff Davis Parkway overpass looking riverward toward downtown, approaching the Airline/Carrollton interchange; estimated date of image is 1971-72 based on the incomplete status of One Shell Square (the u/c bldg. in the background). This segment was modified extensively in the 1970s reconstruction as mentioned before .


Great post.
Here's the Crystal sign today as it sits just to the right of the I-10

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