This report is from a weekend trip through Virginia and North Carolina in mid October, 2002.

VA/NC weekend roadtrip, 10/13-14 (long)

Hi gang. With the weekend weather abating (at least in Hampton Roads), I headed out on a "mid-Atlantic roadtrip" of my own this weekend, mostly to collect some research, additional VA highway endings (pics are being developed), plug a few holes in my county collection map (3 in particular, plus 1 "independent city"), and search for fall colors (not much out there). Finished off one roll of film (which was mostly pictures of the Pinners Point Interchange construction...more on those later), and took 3 more. Some notes:

- Semi-detailed route taken: Various streets/highways in the Hampton Roads area (too many to count....had to get gas, caffeine, and cash), onto US 17 in Suffolk, US 258/VA 10, VA 10 to I-95, VA 288, US 360, VA 153, VA 38, US 360, VA 307, US 460, I-581, I-81, VA 419, back to I-581 (via I-81), US 220, VA 40, VA 8, Blue Ridge Pkwy, US 58, up and back on VA 8 to get VA 57's end, US 58, VA 86, NC 86, NC 62, various streets/roads in Burlington/Graham/Haw River (stopped to visit a friend who recently had surgery, and wound up "nighting over"), I-85, US 70, I-540, US 1, backroads in eastern Wake County, US 64, I-95, US 58, I-264, I-64, US 13.

- NORTH US 17/END VA 164 shield set exists at the end of the VA 164 Western Freeway, just past where it merges into NB US 17.

- (note for RV Droz) Both US 258 and VA 10 have a TRUCK/BUSINESS split in Smithfield....BUSINESS US 258/VA 10 follow the old route through town, while TRUCK US 258/VA 10 follow the bypass. I knew about the BUSINESS routes, but was unaware that the bypass had the TRUCK banner.

- VA 10 between Smithfield and Hopewell is a very scenic drive...fair amount of traffic, though, especially east of Surry.

- (question for Scott Kozel) Has VA 288 always been signed as 65 MPH (post-NHSL)? If not, when was the speed limit upped? Would be nice if VDOT were able to post more non-Interstate freeways at 65 MPH...some excellent examples would be the Martinsville, Franklin, and Suffolk bypasses on US 58, the Farmville, Appomattox, and Lynchburg bypasses on US 460, and the Danville bypass on US 29 (once 4-laning is completed).

- Relating to an earlier thread (not sure if it was here or a mailing list), but the US 460 Appomattox bypass was done in concrete....very nice, too, until one hits the commercial area just past the west end...:o/

- Some construction noticeable off of US 460 relating to the US 29 Madison Heights bypass. Looks like US 460 will be realigned to the south for a mile or two. Makes sense given that existing US 460 in that immediate area would be difficult, at best, to upgrade due to local development and topography.

- Nice 3-level stack at I-81/581...not sure if Roaddog's received a pic of it yet...:o) Be interesting to see what VDOT does with the interchange when (if) they upgrade I-81.

- I-581 is 6 lanes in its entirety...a good thing since traffic volumes would make 4 lanes a very clogged artery. The northern portion, down to just north of US 460, has a rural cross-section (i.e. wide grassy median). South of that point (and including the US 220 freeway beyond I-581's end), the median consists of a Jersey barrier and anywhere from 6 inches to 3 feet of left shoulder.

- Major I-581 oddity: Exit numbers increase as one heads south, but the milemarkers decrease. Along those lines, I-581 exit numbers are sequentially-based, and include "E-W" and "N-S" suffixes at multi-exit interchanges. On top of that, in addition to the normal "Exit 3EW" at VA 101, there's an "Exit 3C" northbound at Valley View Blvd.

- Starting at US 460, there are diamond warning signs going southbound that warn motorists to "Watch for Stopped Traffic" between "5:00-6:30pm". These last until the end of the freeway. Guess evening rush hour isn't so hot around those parts...

- SOUTH US 220/END SOUTH I-581 shield set at the southern terminus (the VA 24/Elm Ave interchange).

- Someone mentioned on M.T.R. recently about extending the I-581 designation along the rest of the US 220 freeway in Roanoke. While technically feasible (minus shoulders on the longer bridges, the freeway is generally Interstate-grade), the only reasoning I could see for such a move would be route continuity along the whole freeway.

- Given the amount of traffic, access points, curves, and roadway design on US 220, an "I-73" would be a welcome addition for through traffic, particularly between Roanoke and Rocky Mount.

- 5 turns are involved to stay on VA 40 through Rocky Mount.

- On WB VA 40 near SR 605, west of Ferrum, a sign warns tractor-trailers that VA 40 is not recommended for them west of that point. Possibly relating to that, there is a TO US 220 trailblazer at the VA 40/SR 605 intersection.

- It never ceases to amaze me how they manage to shoehorn these highways through the Appalachians....VA 8 is no exception. Now if they could only work on passing opportunities...

- The curves along the Blue Ridge Parkway, between VA 8 and US 58, are gentle enough to where I was able to easily maintain 35-40 on them...a far cry from other area highways (US 58, VA 8, VA 40).

- Picked up a 1980 VA map and a 1988-89 NC map at an antique store in Meadows of Dan.

- Good news: 2 lanes of the US 58 Stuart bypass are now open. 2-lane, 2-way, 40 MPH traffic is now routed along the future westbound lanes of the bypass, which is signed as mainline US 58. Old US 58 through the town is now BUSINESS US 58. VA 8 still follows its normal routing through town (including the western portion of now-BUSINESS US 58).

- The western mainline/BUSINESS junction is an at-grade T-intersection, while the eastern junction will be a diamond interchange, with the old route realigned about 1/4 mile west of its former routing. The WB ramps of the interchange are open, with the future WB off-ramp modified for 2-way travel to allow full access until the EB lanes and ramps are completed.

- A lot of the 4-laning on US 58 between Stuart and Spencer (now fully complete) involves 5-lane undivided sections.

- Rain finally caught up with me just west of Martinsville, and lasted through Danville, so no photo opportunities and limited visibility at the future US 58 Danville bypass. I could be mistaken, but it looked almost as if WB bypass traffic will take a loop to get back to the WB mainline...not sure why that would be, unless for some reason VDOT's planning a future western expansion of the freeway on new alignment.

- Now that I've finally seen it in daylight, the I-85/US 70 reconstruction through Durham looks to be progressing nicely. Bridge piers have taken shape for what will be a SB I-85 to EB US 70 flyover, while I-beams have been placed for where WB US 70 will cross over NB I-85.

- Found one design oddity at new I-540/US 1. The EB I-540 to NB US 1 flyover starts as two lanes, but narrows to one lane before it merges into NB US 1....seems that if the movement will have enough traffic to warrant two lanes at the diverge, wouldn't it make sense that there'd be enough traffic to warrant two lanes at the merge, and not cause merging problems on the flyover itself?

- Noticed that US 64 has no exit numbers between Raleigh and the I-95 interchange...seems to be an exception to NCDOT's policy of posting exit numbers on non-Interstate highway interchanges.

- NB I-95 concrete is getting rough between US 64 and Roanoke Rapids.  Getting to be due for a rehab/overlay, and full reconstruction in some portions.

- Never noticed this before, but the NB I-95 to EB US 58 ramp has a split for traffic to go either to the EB mainline or EB BUSINESS US 58.

- As usual, the Emporia cops were out in full force along US 58.

- Some portions of EB US 58 between Emporia and Courtland are undergoing concrete rehab, including full replacement of a few individual concrete sections. In addition, the WB lanes have very recently been overlaid...some pavement markings still need to be put down.

- Relating to an earlier M.T.R. thread, I took a field count of at-grade intersections on US 13/58/460 between Suffolk and Bowers Hill/I-664.  There's a total of 6 at-grade just east of Suffolk serving a landfill, one near the truck Weigh Station for a private road, and four at or near the airport along the eastern portion. Also, next to one of those intersections, there are a pair of driveways along the EB lanes serving a gas station (must be an exception to the overall "limited access" of the corridor).

- On a similar vein, there are now five traffic signals along US 58 through Suffolk, from just west of the bypass to about 2.5 miles west.  The 45 MPH/55 MPH "line of demarkation" is now a half mile west of the westernmost (and newest) signal, which has just been installed in the past 3 months.

- One last note: while a freeway-grade upgrade of US 460 is being pushed, both as a Congressional HPC and as part of the local Hampton Roads sales-tax referendum, I would think a freeway-grade upgrade of US 58, at least out to Emporia if not South Hill, would be of more benefit and utility.

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(C) 2007, Adam Froehlig