Jeff Davis

Dec 8, 2013 12:05 PM by katc

Jeff Davis Parish may create scenic route to draw visitors

A plan to designate a Flyway Byway scenic route through Jefferson Davis Parish envisions incorporating a nearly 55-mile driving route with potential bike routes, waterways and walking paths focusing on the Welsh, Jennings and Lake Arthur areas.

David Dahlquist, who helped develop the plan, told The American Press that the scenic route would attract visitors and spending to the areas and improve quality of life for local residents.

The driving route would follow Louisiana Highway 26, Louisiana Highway 14, Louisiana Highway 99 and U.S. Highway 90 with connections to Interstate 10 and other roads in Jefferson Davis.

Six bikeways, including a mountain bike route, are being proposed using existing routes, including highways and local streets.

A water trail would run just east of Jennings, following the Mermentau River and Lacassine Bayou and incorporating existing boat launches to provide for kayaking, canoeing and other boating opportunities.

"The byway will offer rewards for visitors to the area by giving them an opportunity to get off the interstate and see what the area really has to offer," Dahlquist said.

The plan could lead to economic development for communities along the routes, he said.

"There are a lot of great natural resources, including waterways and biking opportunities, around the parish to utilize," said recreation resource planner Sergio Capozzi.

Capozzi, Dahlquist and a team of consultants spent several months talking to residents to collect information to create a plan. It's expected to be completed in four to six months.

The route would include opportunities for agritourism and bird-watching. Routes would capitalize on parks, museums, wildlife areas, festivals and historic districts.

"We started work on this back in July and have spent a lot of time driving and getting to know the parish," Dahlquist said. "I think we have driven almost every road in the parish."

The Flyway Byway would be part of the state's 17 scenic byway and trail systems, many in different stages of development, said Doug Bouregois, director of the Louisiana Byways Collection.

"Our goal is to get people off the interstate and see Louisiana," he said. "It is great for locals and for visitors who come from next door and international travelers who want to see and explore the real area."

The Flyway Byway is funded by a grant from the Federal Highway Administration.

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