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Monday, May 29, 2017

Highway 90 Lafayette to Houston.

TRACING HIGHWAY 90.
Lafayette to Houston.

Boy, I tell you what. I-10 between Lafayette and Houston is (insert the worst word you can think of here.) The amount of traffic seems to be growing exponentially and there are more and more aggressive drivers out there.

But, if you've got some time; and have an interest in going back in time, there is an alternative.

Hwy 90 to the West of Lafayette is very different than Hwy 90 to the East towards New Orleans. I think the main reason has to do with proximity to I-10. On the East side Hwy 90 strays far from I-10 and thus is more developed (i. e. heavier traffic, 4-laning and many more commercial establishments) while on the West side where I-10 runs really close Hwy 90 it seems that it has been abandoned in place to some degree. Maintained, but not really added to as much. It is still a two-lane highway not that much unchanged from the days that Hwy 90 was the main East/West thoroughfare. It's like all the commercial development jumped immediately to I-10.

If you have an interest in history and hate traffic, let's go on a trip from Lafayette to Houston and examine all the vestiges we can along the way.

We'll start at four-corners at the intersection of University Ave. and Cameron Street. We head WB on Hwy 90 where it is known as the Scott Hwy. A stretch most of us are quite familiar with through Scott, then on to Duson, Rayne and Crowley.

At Crowley Hwy 90 WB takes a bend away from I-10 to the South and passes through the tiny towns of Estherwood, Midland and Mermentau and on to Jennings where it swings back more Northerly and paralleling I-10. Lots of nice open prairie land, woodlands and streams to look at as opposed to what's on the main-lanes of I-10.

Once on the West side of Jennings and it's on towards Lake Charles. Along the way we pass through Welsh, Laccasine, and Iowa finally approaching the East I-210 Loop. This is where it starts getting interesting.

When you reach 210, take the service road (Pamco Rd.) SB to the next intersection which is Broad St. and also U. S. Business 90 and continue WB to Ryan, then back up to I-10 where I-10 and U. S. are one in the same crossing the bridge across the Calcasieu River.

Once on the other side we can get right back off I-10 and back onto a stretch of U. S. 90 that is really nice. Take Exit 26/Hwy 90/PPG Drive/Trousdale heading WB and also paralleling the Old Southern Pacific line through Sulphur, a nice long stretch of two-lane and then to Vinton La. and eventually to the end of this nice stretch at the Toomey Rd.

This is where you need to have the time to do it. Most trips done this way we'll get back on I-10 which is also US 90 to Beaumont. But there are some vestiges that you can enjoy if you are able to backtrack a bit.

If you have the time, let's go. Instead of taking I-10 WB continue SB on Toomey Rd. and take the WB Frontage Rd as this is a stretch of Old Hwy 90. It is dead-end and you will have to come back to I-10 at Toomey/Starks to get across the Sabine River. Apparently this is where the bridge across the Sabine was before the new one on I-10 was built. It takes extra time, but if you've got the time it is worth it. You feel literally back in time as you head towards what is now a boat-launch. The area back there is almost untouched from the early days of happy motoring.
It's easy to imagine yourself in old 40s car, listening to good music when the announcer comes on with "We interrupt this program to bring you a special bulletin..." then proceeds to tell you about the escaped convicts and then says: "Now we return you to our evening's program of generic production music."

When you get to the boat launch you can see remnants of an old bridge. Stop and enjoy it for a few minutes. So much peace and quiet. Then it's time to turn around and head back to I-10 heading WB from the Toomey/Starks Exit and out of Louisiana.

Back on I-10 WB we are also on US Hwy 90 WB as we head across the Sabine River and into Texas.

Once in Texas we look for Exit 878/BUS. 90/Simmons Dr. From there we head South to Main St. one block past W. Green. West Green here in 2017 is officially BUS. 90 as it transitions to MacArthur Dr. But I highly suspect the original path to MacArthur on 90 was actually Main Ave; at least initially. (If proved wrong I'll amend this guide.) So let's do it like this to get a real old time ride. We take Main Ave. WB from Simmons Dr., around the Court House Square, continuing on Main Ave. to 16th Street. At 16th St. we turn right and go up one block to MacArthur. This puts us where the earliest version of 90 through that stretch lines back up with 2017's BUS. 90. Continuing on MacArthur we take Strickland Rd. back up to I-10 and simultaneously rejoin I-10/US 90 WB.

Its a only a short way on I-10/US 90 before we exit again to pick up a short, but scenic and historical stretch of Old Hwy 90. It's a bit difficult (especially if you are Lafayette to Houston).You can't exit directly to it from the WB side of I-10 so take Exit 873/Bridge City/Mauriceville then take the I-10 Service Rd. across Highway 62 and continue WB on Service Rd. to Old Buma Rd. where we go under I-10 to the EB Service Rd. of I-10. It's a short stretch that you will be able to access after traveling a slight distance EB on the Service Rd. This bit of Old Hwy 90 isn't long and brings you back to the EB Service Rd. At this point we rejoin I-10 & US 90 W again and continue on.

We continue on I-10/US 90 WB and take Exit 864 (FM-1132 & FM 1135) and ride the frontage road to Evangeline Dr. At this point we are technically off of Hwy 90 (I think) but we do this to pick up another real nice stretch of Old 90. Upon reaching it we turn left and head on down to Exit 855A/Hwy 90 Downtown. This puts you on Willow St. SB and it is one-way at this point. Continue on Willow SB. As it goes along it transitions into Park St. and becomes two-way traffic. Continue on Park St. to College St. taking a left turn. As we go WB on College Ave. it splits off into one-way traffic at Jefferson St. and transitions into Wall St. At MLK Parkway Hwy 90 rejoins College St. and we are once again in two-way traffic. No changes for a while as we continue our WB track crossing the Railroad and then I-10 and on towards China, TX, Nome, Devers, Raywood, Ames, Liberty, Dayton and eventually on to Crosby, TX. Before we get into Crosby there's another piece of Old Hwy 90 not labeled as such. It's Crosby/Dayton Rd. and it follows the tracks and is obviously a piece of the original 90. We're heading S/E at this point then make a turn due South. Look for Runneburg Rd. We turn left here and take Runneburg to the frontage rd. of Hwy 90/Crosby Fwy which is Bus. 90. When we reach FM-2100 continue straight across and we are on Hwy 90/Beaumont Hwy. It's two-lane traffic here and remains so until we cross the Trinity River. (Look to the right and you can see the railroad bridge of the Old Southern Pacific route.) Very quickly the highway transitions to 4-lanes and remains 4 lanes for a good stretch from here. Just past Oates Rd. we make another switch-off. This piece is not identified as a portion of Hwy 90 but almost certainly was another stretch of the original 90 and it's called Liberty Rd. At fields street we lean right and cross the railroad tracks and continue to E. Houston Rd. and take a left turn. Follow E. Houston Rd. SB and we take a right turn and we are back on Liberty Rd. (Obviously the construction of the freight yard is what caused the break-up of Liberty Rd. Continuing WB on Liberty Rd. we eventually cross I-69/59 and Liberty Rd. transitions to Quitman St. Quitman eventually takes us to Houston Ave where a left turn takes us into Downtown Houston. End of Journey.