UPDATED: East, West, & Eloi: The Stories Behind E. Broussard & W. Broussard Roads
AUTHOR'S NOTE: On March 16, 2022, a listener sent us information that finally shed some light on why the confusion about E. Broussard Road exists and what the "W" in W. Broussard Road represents. That new information is integrated into the original story.
If you're from Lafayette, you're familiar with E. Broussard and W. Broussard Roads.
Those two thoroughfares span the area from Ridge Road near Scott to East Milton Avenue near Milton, providing drivers a cut-through to avoid traffic on Ambassador Caffery Parkway, Johnston Street, and Verot School Road.
There's also a very good chance you've heard someone refer to these two roads as "East Broussard Road" and "West Broussard Road." After all, The roads are signed "E. Broussard" and "W. Broussard", they meet at Johnston Street, and they run in a general east-to-west direction.
Old-timers and Lafayette natives are quick to correct those who refer to "E. Broussard Road" as "East Broussard," telling them they're wrong. Those residents argue that "E. Broussard" refers to the former landowner on whose property the road was built.
So what exactly do the "E" and "W" in "E. Broussard" and "W. Broussard" represent? Let's dive into Lafayette history to find out the answers.
"E. Broussard" is Eloi Broussard
E. Broussard Road is named for the man who once owned the property on which the road was paved.
Eloi Darmas Broussard was born in 1874. He was a farmer and general store owner. He later served as a member of the Lafayette Parish Police Jury, serving as parish treasurer from 1912 until his death until 1940.
Broussard inherited land along the Vermilion River from his father, Darmas. That property included a house built in the late 1880s built on the river's west bank and the general store.
A Daily Advertiser article by Mario Mamalakis from 1983 explains how the road and the Vermilion River bridge there came to be.
To make it easier for his customers to cross the river to buy from his store, Darmas constructed a pull-type ferry. Passage was free, if a purchase was made at the store. If not, the cost was 10 cents per passenger.
Eloi Broussard eventually replaced the ferry with a bridge. According to newspaper archives, the Lafayette Parish Police Jury constructed the Eloi Broussard Road and Bridge around 1895. According to police jury minutes published by the Daily Advertiser in 1919, Broussard received payment from the parish to operate and maintain both the road and the bridge.
The Eloi Broussard Road later became part of the state highway system. In the years after Broussard's death, local and state officials continued to refer to the highway in formal documents as "Eloi Broussard Road." Even to this day, some businesses along that road continue to use the full name in their business letterheads.
In fact, the location signs on the E. Broussard Bridge still read "Eloi Broussard. Lafayette Parish Councilman Josh Carlson sent in these photos from the Bayou Vermilion from Saturday, September 25, 2021.
So what about W. Broussard Road?
The mystery behind W. Broussard Road was more difficult to crack.
We asked several local officials if they knew what the "W" represents. Most of them told us they believed the Lafayette Parish Government named the road "West Broussard Road" because they mistakenly believed the "E" in E. Broussard Road stood for "East."
When we asked Lafayette traffic and transportation director Warren Abadie for an answer, he threw us a curveball.
The "W," Abadie told us, does NOT stand for "West." Abadie said the street's official name is "W. Broussard Road," not "West Broussard Road." However, Abadie didn't know what the "W" initial stands for, leaving that blank unfilled.
Based on our research, the "W" could represent one of Eloi's sons.
Woodrow Broussard was born in 1920 and died in 1988.
The World War II veteran owned land along what is now Johnston Street near his father's property. While his obituary says Broussard was a farmer, he also held business interests, including a car wash. The mailing address listed for that business in an online database is than a mile north of the intersection of Johnston and W. Broussard Road. That address is also tied to a land company and other business interests that Broussard and his family held.
Newspapers clipping from 1954 shows a Woodrow Broussard applied for an alcohol permit to operate a dance hall off Johnston Street between the modern-day W. Broussard Road and Touchet Road, but we could not confirm if that Woodrow Broussard is the same as Eloi's son.
1980s Name Changes
After we initially published this story, we heard from Art Lebreton, the retired chief deputy in the Lafayette Parish Sheriff's Office. He gave us some of the history about how W. Broussard Road came to be. He wrote:
If memory serves me correct, W. Broussard Road was named H. Mouton Rd until about 1983/1984. I retired from the Lafayette Parish Sheriff’s Office, and during that 83/84 time period, numerous roads were renamed to accommodate the new 911 system in Lafayette Parish. At the time, too many roads were named the same except for the initial preceding the name. Officials feared this would confuse first responders as well as 911 operators and thus the changes.
Lebreton referred us to retired sheriff Don Breaux. We called him, but he said he couldn't remember any specifics about the name change.
Several months later, we published a story about the history behind Lafayette's street names. One of our listeners, Wayne Shields, provided us with documentation proving that, in fact, those who had been calling the roads "East Broussard" and "West Broussard" are, technically, correct.
According to the March 29, 1985, edition of the Daily Advertiser, the Lafayette Parish Council passed an ordinance changing the names of dozens of roads in Lafayette Parish to make life easier for first responders. At that time, most of Lafayette Parish's rural roads were named for the owners of the land on which they were built. As a result, street names were in many cases too similar to each other if not outright redundant. That cause confusion among ambulance drivers, law enforcement, and other officials while responding to calls.
According to the minutes of that week's Lafayette Parish Council meeting, the council changed the name of Eloi Broussard Road to EAST Broussard Road. The council simultaneously changed the name of H. Trahan Road to WEST Broussard Road.
Still, as we mentioned earlier, DOTD still officially refers to the road and the bridge as the Eloi Broussard Road and the Eloi Broussard Bridge.
This, technically, makes both East Broussard and Eloi Broussard correct names for "E. Broussard Road."
But wait, there's more!
The West/Woodrow Broussard Road in southern Lafayette Parish isn't the only W. Broussard Road in the parish. You'll find another W. Broussard Road in Carencro. However, that road is now signed as "Wallace Broussard Road."
You'll also find references to an "E. Broussard" in the Vermilion Parish School System, particularly in the modern-day Forked Island/E. Broussard Elementary School. The "E. Broussard" in this case is Ernest Broussard. Ernest Broussard was a Cow Island land owner and farmer. According to Acadiana historian Jim Bradshaw, residents of the community approved a tax to consolidate three smaller schools into one larger school. When that new school opened in 1918, they named it the Ernest Broussard Agricultural School. That school later became an approved high school. Since then, Ernest Broussard's name has remained on at least one school in the parish.
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