This report is from the return trip to Norfolk, VA from Minnesota, during my 2002 summer vacation in mid-August, 2002.
A little slow on the draw here, but I've been very busy since my return to
Norfolk late Monday night as I'm heading back out to sea for 5 weeks on Friday.
Got some time now to share notes from the return leg of my summer vacation, from
Minnesota via Jersey back to Norfolk.
Before I start, for those who have noticed me use the term "CSAH" and not recognize it, "CSAH" in MnDOT terminology stands for County State Aid Highway....simply put, a county road that's on the State Aid system.
Day 1 (Friday, 8/9): Burnsville, MN to Rochester, MN
Largely via county roads to US 52, then down US 52. Two main items of note:
- At the brand new US 52/CSAH 46 intersection south of Coates (only fully opened this June), there was a 3 car accident that blocked and jammed up the northbound lanes on 52. This latest accident comes four days on the heels of a news report by the local ABC affiliate which commented on the insanely high number of accidents at the intersection since it fully opened....at least 8 accidents just since June...with 2 of them fatal.
The intersection was opened when Dakota County finished off CSAH 46, an east-west minor arterial, this summer. MnDOT wanted to put an interchange there, but neither they nor Dakota County have the money for an interchange. And the Minnesota Legislature really screwed up this year when they failed to pass a transportation funding bill...basically a partisan fight in the Minnesota House between DFLers who wanted more money for transit, and a core group of Republicans who were loathe to increase any taxes, especially for transit funding.
- Other note is from Rochester, where ROW acquisition and clearing continues for the upcoming US 52 reconstruction project in Rochester. In one of Minnesota's first design-build projects, and the biggest such project currently on the plate (currently estimated at $239 million), construction will begin this fall on US 52. The plan is to finish construction within 5 years, and will involve full reconstruction of the mainline between US 63 on the south and 85th St NW (about 6 miles NW of the northern US 52/US 14 interchange), an improved frontage road system, reconstructed interchanges, a new interchange at 75th St NW/CSAH 14, and widening to 6 lanes between US 63 and 75th St NW/CSAH 14. This project will also extend the freeway section on US 52 about 3 miles further northwest from its current end at 55th St NW/CSAH 22. The interchange reconstructions include a 6-ramp parclo (NE and SW quadrant loops) at US 14 WEST/Civic Center Dr, Minnesota's 6th SPUI at 19th St NW, and a split-diamond with 2 on-ramps each direction at 37th/41st Sts NW. The new interchange at 75th St NW/CSAH 14 will be a 6-ramp parclo with NE and NW quadrant loops.
Day 2 (Saturday, 8/10): Rochester, MN to NTC Great Lakes, IL
- Departed Rochester via US 52 to Chatfield, where I discovered that MN 74's terminus is at US 52 IN Chatfield, instead of at MN 30 east of town as previously thought. Along the MN 30/MN 74 duplex, MN 74 is the "through route", with mileposts based on the original southern terminus at then-US 16 in Spring Valley.
- MN 30 between MN 74 and MN 250 is in VERY POOR condition, both between geometrics and pavement condition.
- MN 250 has a couple of neat overhead steel truss bridges over a couple branches of the Root River, including a pair of 15 MPH curves on either side of one of the bridges.
- MnDOT has plunked some good money into MN 16 through the Root River valley over the years....overall it is a well-engineered 2-lane highway, with fairly gentle curves and wide shoulders. Only noted problem with the road is between Lanesboro and Rushford, where the shoulders are gravel...IMHO they should be paved, given the large amount of bicycle traffic going between the campgrounds along MN 16 and the nearby Root River State Trail.
- Found "Rushford Village" route numbers...white square shields. Occasionally, one will find township routes in Minnesota, but they're not very common...and Rushford Village is an incorporated municipality.
- MN 16 is closed for reconstruction between Hokah and MN 26...detour via CSAH 7 and MN 26.
- Snapped some pics along MN 26 (including at the state line)...VERY scenic drive, although the road gets increasingly narrower as one travels south.
- Got both ends of IA 26, and the east end of IA 9, for Jeff Morrison. At the junction in Lansing, IA 26 NORTH/IA 9 WEST is considered the through route...traffic to/from the bridge is required to turn. And speaking of the bridge, it is a must-see for historic bridge buffs...an steel overhead truss, steel grid deck, 25 MPH speed limit, narrow lanes, the works. Overall an interesting ride across the river.
- Took WI 82 to WI 35 SOUTH to WI 171. WI 171, though narrow, is a fascinating and scenic drive, alternating between the valleys and the hilltops that so permeate southwestern Wisconsin...the route also passes through many apple orchards.
- Was reminded of the short, 2 (or so) mile segment of 4-lane divided on US 14 between Boaz and Richland Center...the one that doesn't show up on maps. Wish there were more...
- Sometime within the past 5 years, US 14 has been rerouted through Richland Center proper. From the west, it now turns to go south down a reconstructed street two blocks west of its original routing through the center of town. The reconstructed street is done in concrete, and there is an all-new concrete connector between this former street and the southern US 14/WI 80 junction. Said junction, where US 14 formerly turned off of WI 80, is now just a normal 4-leg intersection junction between two routes (but signalized).
- For the Wisconsinites: Does WisDOT have any plans, or at least a corridor management plan, for US 14 between Richland Center and Middleton? Given the amount of traffic I encountered, some sort of improvements would be desireable...at a minimum, turn lanes at major intersections, a few passing lanes in the rural areas, and 4-laning between Cross Plains and Middleton.
- Noticed ramp meters at a few locations along the Madison Beltline. Knew they were planned, but wasn't aware that they were installed. At least one of them has the signals on an overhead.
- Took US 12/18 east of I-90, to see the new construction....well done, but am a bit disappointed that the 4-laning did not extend all the way to WI 73, as indicated by one national map (the American Map...formerly National Geographic).
- Saw the construction at I-94/WI 26...did anyone slow down? Take a wild guess...
- From what I saw on the run into Milwaukee on I-94, if the local MPO does decide to pursue 8-laning, it'll be a VERY TIGHT fit in some parts of western Milwaukee, if possible at all. After passing through in daylight (previous trips were at night), I now have my doubts...
- Meandered downtown along 4th and Wisconsin...after stopping at GENCON (a gaming convention).
- After leaving GENCON, made my way back to I-794, and conversely onto WI 794. When will the next phase of WI 794/Lake Pkwy be constructed?
- Hopped on I-94 from WI 100 (which, surprisingly, and contrary to RMcN, is only 2 lanes for a significant stretch east of I-94), and instead of taking Tri-State down to IL 137 to get to NTC Great Lakes, I opted for US 41....saved toll, but the stoplights along US 41 are a pain...
Day 3 (Sunday, 8/11), NTC Great Lakes, IL to Roselle Park, NJ
Long drive this day...didn't get into Roselle Park until almost 2am.
- As another "toll-saving" measure, and for a change of pace, I opted to follow Sheridan Rd along the lakeshore, 'til I hit Lakeshore Drive in Chicago. Interesting trip through some expensive territory (some awesome looking houses and buildings, though)....lots of turns, though. Signage for Sheridan Rd and the "Lake Michigan Circle Tour" ranged from fair to good...almost missed one turn though due to lack of signage.
- SB lanes of US 41/Lakeshore Dr are being reconstructed south of downtown...down to 2 narrow lanes SB, and 2-3 lanes NB. Bet this one's a mess during rush hour...
- On the Southside, the South frontage road to the Skyway (and conversely, access from 87th St) is closed east of Jeffrey Ave. Also, South Chicago Ave is closed at 93rd St...made for some interesting traveling to get around it.
- Once into Indiana, took US 41 to IN 912/Cline Ave and around to I-80/94...like the new flyovers at IN 912/I-80/94...
- Question for the Michiganders...crossing into MI from IN, how far does the 6-lane continue on I-94?
- Took US 12 east across much of southern Michigan, collecting a few counties and seeing the sights. In many of the smaller towns, US 12 has recently been restriped from the original 4-lane undivided to a 3-lane section (2 lanes plus center left turn lane)....one can tell where the original 4-lane markings were.
- Just west of Union, the finishing touches are being put on a new connector route from US 12 into Indiana....route shields show MI 217, with trailblazers to I-80/90, though the road still had yet to open. Unfortunately, I was busy dealing with a tailgater, and so missed a photo opportunity.
- Some sort of passing lane between Sturgis and Coldwater would be nice.
- Reconstruction at the I-69/US 12 interchange in Coldwater...seems the NB ramp intersection is being realigned.
- The maps don't show it, but MI 99 is a combo 4-lane divided/5-lane undivided between Jonesville and Hillsdale.
- OH 108 is in much worse shape than MI 156.
- Once on the Ohio Turnpike, noticed construction through the I-280 interchange to extend the 6-lane section through the interchange...this, combined with weekend traffic exiting at I-280, created a 3 mile backup WB on I-80/90.
- Took I-90 east, through Cleveland and into Pennsy...thereby clinching I-90 in Ohio. Construction is close to wrapping up on 6-laning I-90 west to OH 611.
- Don't remember specifically where, but over a fairly large valley (Grand River?), somewhere between Painesville and Ashtabula, the WB I-90 bridge over the river is being completely rebuilt, along with about a mile of the WB mainline on either side....traffic was 2-lane/2-way in the EB lanes, and this created a 3-4 mile backup in the WB lanes.
- Clinched US 6N, as well as pics of both endpoints. Continued east on US 6....combination of slow traffic and limited passing opportunities made for slow going.
- PA 666/PA 948 was a scenic shortcut to US 6/US 219 between Sheffield and Ridgway. Continued east out of Ridgway on PA 120, which has a curve past a RR crossing signed for 5 MPH. (no pic..was getting dark by then)
- Can't tell from the maps, but PA 255 is 4-lane from Saint Marys south to the PA 948 junction.
- Continued on PA 255 to PA 153 to I-80...things were normal (but busy) on I-80 EB until....
- I hit the construction on I-80 at the Susquehanna River bridge. Hard. For their credit, PennDOT had VMS warning of the construction as far west as before the US 220/Lock Haven interchange, but I wasn't expecting to hit a 5 mile jam at 11pm. End result: 35 minutes to go 5 miles.
- At this moment, all traffic is on the WB lanes. Was too dark to really see how construction status was going. PennDOT was also, via VMS, advertising the project website at http://www.i80bridge.com
- Once out of the jam, things were pretty much normal for the rest of the run (I-80/I-287/NJ 24/city streets). Did notice that roughly 70% of the traffic (and there was still a lot of traffic) on EB I-80 at midnight was truck traffic.
Day 4 (Monday, 8/12), Roselle Park, NJ to Virginia Beach, VA
- In an interesting attempt to avoid suspected traffic jam areas (at 4pm on a weekday), plus reduce my overall toll, I took a lopsided route to NJ TPK...GSP to NJ 440/I-287 to US 1 to NJ 18. Traffic along US 1 was heavy, but moving. The lone stoplight on NJ 18 between US 1 and NJ TPK was a noticeable problem area.
- Have now been on the length of the NJ TPK south of Exit 11...this was my first time south of Exit 7A. A large accident in the car lanes just before the car/truck merge had the fortunate effect of metering the cars merging in, and thus traffic was flowing VERY well for 5pm on a weekday between the merge and Exit 6.
- Had one impatient soul pass me using the left shoulder, south of Exit 3.
- Construction continues on DE 1 between Odessa and Smyrna.
- Continual gripe: too many stoplights, and too many access along US 13 south of Dover. Of the 3 "Delmarva States", only Maryland has half a clue when it comes to access and traffic ops along US 13, though VDOT does have a halfways-decent corridor management plan for US 13 north of CBBT now...unfortunately, lack of funding will be an obstacle to implementation. Now, when the $*#(* is DelDOT going to get on the ball?
That's about it. Overall, put just over 5100 miles on my car during my 3 week vacation.
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