Interstate 49 between Opelousas and Shreveport was Louisiana's only "interstate parkway." A parkway is a highway with protected scenic vistas along both sides of the roadway, uninterrupted, by outdoor billboard advertising.

On July 1, 2004, House Bill 635 of the 2004 Regular Session, enrolled as Act 837, sponsored by Rep. Roy J. Quezaire Jr., of Donaldsonville, was signed by the governor and became law. With no one voting nay in the Senate, and only four nays in the House of Representatives, Louisiana's only interstate parkway is no more. With the legislative changes made for the outdoor advertising industry by Act 837 of 2004, the billboard industry in Louisiana is now free to do unto I-49 as they do to all other stretches of Louisiana interstate highway.

It is curious how a state that is so dependent upon tourism for its economic well-being cannot recognize that an unmarred and unobstructed landscape, or at least a more controlled interruption of the landscape, promotes tourism and benefits business in the long run.

Even within the advertising industry, there is considerable debate as to the effectiveness of outdoor advertising. There is very little a 60 to 100 foot interstate billboard can do for a business, that a small highway department "logo sign" can't do.

The outdoor advertising industry, its lobbyists and our legislators will continue to obstruct and conceal the natural beauty and wonders of Louisiana, unless the citizens of this state rise up in outrage. Contact your state legislators and demand higher standards for protecting the scenic beauty of Louisiana and a little less coziness with the billboard industry.

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