When was the Jeff Davis bike path built? I say it was in the early 1960s when the Pontchartrain Expressway was built, and a friend says it was later. Who's right or is it neither?
The history of the Jefferson Davis Parkway Bike Trail, which connects Mid-City to Bayou St. John, is much more recent. The mile-long path begins at South Jefferson Davis Parkway and Washington Avenue, crosses the Pontchartrain Expressway (via the Jefferson Davis Parkway overpass), continues past Tulane Avenue, Canal Street and several other streets before ending at Bayou St. John and connecting to the Lafitte Greenway.
The bike path opened in 1981. It was built with $109,000 in federal grant money. At the time, there was hope of expanding the path, but funding ran out. "When we planned it, we hoped to continue it into City Park to tie into roadways there," New Orleans Streets Department Director Blaise Carriere said in a March 1981 story in The Times-Picayune. "However we could not get the additional federal funding needed for the project extension."
At the time, the Jeff Davis path was part of a master plan that called for nearly 100 miles of bikeways throughout the city. Thirty-five years later, we've finally surpassed that. The 4.7-mile Wisner Trail, which opened in 2008, completed a bike path from City Park to Lake Pontchartrain. With the growing popularity of bicycling, the number of on-street and off-street bike lanes in the city has grown from less than 5 miles in 2006 to more than 105 miles today, with more to come.