This report is from a two-day trip from Meridian, MS to Roselle Park, NJ, on November 22-23, 1999.

MS-NJ Roadtrip Post-Mortem (long)

Got into Roselle Park, NJ last night after a long day-and-a-half of driving. My rough route from Meridian followed I-59/I-24/I-75/I-40/I-81/I-77/US 460/I-81/I-78, with a couple minor diversions for "roadgeekly pursuits", including exit info for I-759 and I-140, and pics of the ends of many US highways (for my US Highway Endings page). Some notes:

- I picked up a map of Birmingham's 20-year highway plan as it stood in 1996. Amongst other things, it has a rough routing of the proposed Birmingham Northern Beltline, and an extension of the US 280 freeway out past I-459. There are also two new proposed freeway spurs shown from I-20/59 into the Bessemer/Midfield areas.

- Contrary to what some have mentioned (and also shown on Andy Field's Corridor page), the bridges and median pavings on I-459 around Birmingham are NOT wide enough to accommodate an additional lane (at least west of I-65 and through the I-65 interchange), nor are there any additional lanes planned west of I-65.

- The I-459/I-65 interchange is a 4-level stack with the two mainlines being the two middle level. Don't worry, Alex...I got a pic...:o)

- Both ends of I-759 in Gadsden, AL are built to accommodate expansion in either direction, and the eastern side actually continues as a 2-lane AL 759 for a mile or so.

- There is a section of I-75 between Chattanooga and I-40 that has those overhead changeable message signs. For the most part, these coincide with a "Dense Fog Advisory Area".

- Construction at the I-40/75/140/TN 162 interchange appears to be mostly complete. It was dark when I went through, but it looked like all ramps were complete and open. I noticed a C/D road on eastbound I-40/75 through the interchange.

- I-140 ends at a cloverleaf with US 129, with the road continuing and signed as "Local Traffic".

- US 129 could basically be considered a semi-freeway north of the Tennessee River. The interchange with I-40 has construction going on.

- H.B. Elkins, your next time in the Knoxville area, could you get me pics of the ends of US 441 and US 129? It was dark when I went through and pics would be appreciated...

- I-40 is still only 4 lanes from the I-275 stack to roughly US 441 North.

- Paving is complete on I-40 near the I-81 interchange, which means I-40 is now 6 lanes all the way from the I-75 South interchange to I-81 (except for the short Knoxville section mentioned above).

- Construction continues on 6-laning I-81 from US 11W (TN Exit 74AB) to Exit 7 in Virginia.

- It appears that US 21 in Wytheville ends at I-77. Virginia's rather poor at signing US highways in this regard.

- I-77 is a very scenic drive if one likes steep hills and woods and such.

- There are stoplights at the US 460 ramps off I-77. US 460 also has a stoplight about 1/3 mile west, serving the large commercial area at the interchange.

- The differences on US 460 between Virginia and West Virginia are like night and day. West Virginia used concrete, has full paved shoulders, and is signed 65 MPH (except right at I-77). The Virginia side, on the other hand, is lacking adequate shoulders in most areas, uses asphalt, and is signed 55 MPH, and this drops as low as 40 MPH through some of the towns.

- There are some construction areas on US 460 between the WV/VA line and Pearisburg which have 2-way traffic on the eastbound side.

- Although there is only one stoplight on US 460 between Blacksburg and I-77 (at VA 61 in Narrows), there are plenty south of there. Both the RMcN and NG are in error with the Blacksburg bypass, which has two stoplights itself.

- Two ongoing areas of construction on US 460 are the link to I-81 and a freeway connection between the Christiansburg bypass and the Blacksburg bypass. I couldn't tell for sure, but it appears that I-81 will have a 2-2-2-2 configuration through at least part of the area once construction is complete. I-81 traffic is currently using the outer roadways.

- I-81/I-581, I-81/I-66, and both I-81/I-64 interchanges were 3-level stacks. Virginia state police had A LOT of unmarked cars along I-81 in this area (one of them burned a guy who was right in front of me).

- Both ends of the VA 37 bypass of Winchester end in diamond interchanges at I-81.

- There's a short 2-mile widening project on I-81 in Martinsburg, WV.  Also, most bridges between there and the WV/MD line are wide enough to accommodate a 3rd lane each direction.

- The I-81/I-70 interchange in Hagerstown, MD is a cloverleaf, but has C/D roads in both directions on both routes.

- If Pennsylvania wants to shake their current "status", they'd better start working on I-81 and I-78 too, although I was impressed to see that the Carlisle bypass on I-81 had brand-new concrete.

- Why is there no direct I-81/PA Tpk interchange?

- The I-81/PA 581 interchange is a 3-level stack. Also, I-81 is 6 lanes between PA 581 and I-83, and bridges between I-83 and I-78 are wide enough to accommodate 3 lanes each way.

- Most of I-78 through Pennsylvania could only BARELY be called such, as it is a *VERY* substandard freeway (except near Allentown and east).  Almost the whole route has a Jersey or metal median and very little left shoulder, as well as substandard right shoulders. A few of the interchanges are so substandard they have stop signs at the end of the on-ramps.

- I-78 could really use a 3rd lane each way between PA 309 South and the Delaware River. The Delaware River bridge, BTW, is a westbound only toll.

- About your only indications of civilization along I-78 in Jersey (west of NJ 24) are the very heavy traffic. This stretch has a very rural feel to it.

- The local/express lanes split on I-78 is just west of the NJ 24 interchange. It has a 3-2-2-3 configuration (at least west of the Garden State Parkway).

- US 22 (between Middlesex and Union) has A LOT of jughandles.

- Overall, there was a lot of traffic (and especially truck traffic) on I-81 not only in VA, but also in TN, WV, MD, and southern PA, to the point where I would not only consider 6-laning in Virginia, but all the way from I-40 to I-78. I would also 6-lane I-78 in its entirety, as it has a lot of traffic as well.

- If any NJ/NY roadgeeks would like to get together and trade notes on Friday or Saturday, please E-mail me.  Also, John Lansford, where could I reach you come Monday? I will be returning through North Carolina on Sunday-Monday.

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