BATON ROUGE -- When it comes to highways and byways these days,
Louisiana is big on the byways.
The state Office of Tourism's Scenic Byways Program, which it
launched in 1991, is designed to call attention to the wealth of
tourist attractions and beautiful scenery that exists throughout
Louisiana -- especially that which is found off the beaten paths,
away from the heavily traveled interstate highways.
Besides a way to generate new tourist traffic, the program also
offers opportunities to preserve, protect and enhance the natural
beauty of the byway areas and foster better understanding of the
Recreational opportunities for visitors and residents have also
evolved from the program. So far, there are 15 designated Scenic
Byways in the program. See list on facing page.
Components of the plan for each byway include:Designating the roads to be included in the byway.Identifying the attractions to be promoted.Placing road signs every seven miles marking the route.Establishing a low-frequency radio channel that provides
information about the byway and its attractions.Printing and distributing brochures with maps, photos and
attraction descriptions.Advertising and promoting the byways.Constructing kiosks (unmanned information stations) that
feature audio and visual aids to understanding how to get around on
the byways and what to see.
Each of the byways is managed by the local tourist commission.
Ty Bromell, administrator of the Scenic Byways program, said,
"Nothing would excite me more than to have lots of motorcoaches
visiting our Scenic Byways. Those passengers would create the best
word-of-mouth once they see the beauty of Louisiana."
Bromell said some of the byway routes do have facilities for
motorcoaches, such as the Creole Nature Trail, which he added was
the first national nature trail. "Over in Cameron Parish, the
Creole route has pulloffs to accommodate buses and there are a few
stores. In addition, there is a ferry/barge that buses can fit on
to cross the river. There also is a refuge down there where
motorcoaches can pull up, take a walking tour and get back on and
continue the route."
According to an official with the St. Landry Parish Tourist
Commission, which handles the Zydeco Cajun Prairie byway route,
early indications are that the project is a boon.
"We are fairly new as a scenic byway," said Celeste Gomez,
director of public information for St. Landry Parish. In 1996 we
were designated and in 1998 received funding. We have a real lively
route through the backroads and are very accessible. The major
state highways cut through here, which means that motorcoaches will
have no problems," she said.
These highways include Highway 13 and Interstate 90.
The proposal for the Bienville Trace Scenic Highway 1 project
comprised 502 miles and covered 11 parishes. This route has been in
the program for about five years, according to Kenneth Newman, a
planner of the route who wrote and filled in the inventory for the
Linda Curtis Sparks, executive director of the Sabine River
Authority, where the Toledo Bend Forest Byway runs, said efforts
are under way to improve facilities for motorcoaches and other
vehicles. "We do have paved pulloffs for buses and other visitors.
But currently we have about 15 miles of the route under
construction and we are working on plans for aesthetic improvements
of the facilities," she said.
Sparks said the route runs parallel to the Toledo Bend
Reservoir, which is 76 miles. "It's a very scenic drive, but you
don't get to see much of the reservoir."
The byways program is administered by the the state tourism
office and the Department of Transportation.
Louisiana Office of Tourism
Phone: (800) 633-6970 or (504) 342-8100