Go West, but slow down in Louisiana

Published 11:57 pm Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Go West, young man, go West. The quotation, often attributed to 19th century newspaperman Horace Greeley applies along U.S. 84 in Louisiana, but with a footnote.

The footnote might say: slow down and be careful if you need to pass someone because the roadway is still mostly two-laned throughout much of the state.

Last month, leaders from southern states headed to Washington — likely by airplane — to lobby for money for more highway asphalt. The trip was the latest of a long-standing effort to four-lane the east-west corridor designated as the El Camino Corridor.

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The historic route stretches from Georgia to Texas and it’s been a goal of economic developers to get the roadway four-laned, the hope being that with the asphalt comes jobs and other economic benefits.

The problem is that the stretch of highway runs through places such as Jonesville, and Meadville, neither of which typically draws much political clout. Mississippi transportation officials have done a good job pooling resources and stretching their dollars to get much of the Magnolia state stretches widened.

Across the border in Louisiana, however, the effort has lagged. Vidalia Mayor Hyram Copeland said approximately 13 percent of the Louisiana stretches of highway have been four-laned.

That’s not good enough for the good people of rural Louisiana.

It’s 2007, not 1907. We need to get serious about making the transportation system modern and lobbying Washington again is a good step. Now we just need to keep pushing west with the roadbuilding.