Even before construction officially began on Interstate 10, efforts to ease traffic congestion in New Orleans lead to the construction of the Pontchartrain Expressway. Some sections of the expressway were built a decade before the last sections of the interstate were built through the city. The construction of I-10 in Louisiana was first funded starting in 1957, but largely took place throughout in the 1960s. The last two sections in New Orleans were completed in 1972.
Battles were fought over where the highway would go, with French Quarter residents and preservationists winning a fight against an elevated expressway along the Mississippi River through the French Quarter.
But Treme residents were on the losing end of that fight, and the elevated expressway was built through their neighborhood — perhaps the oldest Black main street in America. Ancient oak trees and azalea bushes were torn out, 500 homes were bulldozed and businesses were closed. The construction of the interstate is believed to be directly responsible for the economic slump and crime in the neighborhood that followed.
Despite the interstate’s presence, congestion, especially from Causeway Boulevard to I-610, continues as do efforts to widen and upgrade the interstate.