This report is from Day 1 of a weekend roadtrip across much of Virginia, on May 23, 2003.

Weekend VA Roadtrip, Day 1 (long)

Hi gang. A combination of factors have resulted in my posting this post from Lexington, VA this morning: with my own car in the shop (due to an accident), I have a rental car with unlimited mileage PROVIDED I stay in Virginia. Second, a 3.5 day weekend (I was off by noon yesterday). Third, my mother flew into town on Thursday to visit (since I'm heading out to sea June 2nd) with a "roadtrip bug" in her ear.

End result: a roadtrip visiting various sites in Virginia.

Had a brief roadtrip Thursday up the Eastern Shore, showing my mother the various towns and scenes along the Eastern Shore, and visiting a few antique stores (I bagged a 75 VA, 82-83 VA, 74-75 NC, 65 MD, 69 TN (Interstates), and another MD (don't remember the year)). We made it as far north as Bloxom and Nelsonia before turning around. Had dinner at an EXCELLENT seafood restaurant (called the Trawler) on the north side of Exmore along US 13...if you don't mind shelling out around $15 per person, it's worth it... Not much roadgeek-wise to report with this "mini-day-trip", except that VDOT has some sort of resurfacing project on US 13 north of Eastville and before Exmore.

As for this current trip that brought us to Lexington, we left around 2pm. Multiple accidents left the HRBT in a near-perpetual jam most of yesterday (the Truman battle group returning home didn't help the traffic situation any), so we opted to head west via the Midtown Tunnel and VA 164 (after showing my mother various sites in Norfolk).

Pinners Point Interchange construction continues along. Most of the bridge pillars at both the interchange itself and the VA 164 extension to the interchange are up, and many I-beams have already been placed (some near the interchange appeared to be steel, while some along the VA 164 extension appeared to be concrete). Between the interchange and the Midtown Tunnel, all traffic is using the eastbound lanes, further complicating an already messy situation during rush hours. The VPA frowns upon taking photos of the interchange construction, with their facilities being so close (I'd been "called out" by security on a previous attempt, and wasn't about to start an incident). That combined with the rain prevented me from taking any photos.

Generally uneventful heading west along VA 164, then up US 17 and US 258 towards Smithfield. BUS VA 10 is busy through Smithfield, and the lack of left turn lanes was a noted slowdown at many intersections, particularly on the south side of town. North of town, past the meat packing plants, things opened up.

VA 10 is a very pleasant drive between Smithfield and Hopewell. Many historical markers along the route. Can be slow sometimes if you're behind slower traffic.

I continue to be impressed with the VA 106/VA 156 "Benjamin Harrison Memorial Bridge" over the James River...a horizontal lift span.

While the VA 10/106/156 intersections have traffic signal control, the VA 5/106/156 intersection only has stop control, and that only on VA 106/156 (VA 5 traffic has right-of-way). Took me about 60 seconds to find a "clear spot" to turn left onto VA 5.

VA 5 is another scenic drive. We took it up to Battlefield Park Rd, then followed that road through the main part of the Richmond National Battlefield Park. Lots of earthworks along the drive, both Confederate and Union. Was impressed with the visual displays showing the various forts, earthworks, and battles along the road. Was a bit surprised to see driveways and houses occasionally along the road. A turn onto Hoke Brady Rd took us through the rest of this portion of the park, all the way down to an old fort overlooking the James River.

After finishing through the park (we opted not to continue on to the Malvern Hill, Cold Harbor, or Mechanicsville units), headed back to VA 5, then turned onto VA 895 to cross the new James River Bridge.  Crossing the bridge, as always, is an interesting experience, with it being so high. Wasn't aware that the VA 895/VA 5 interchange is actually a trumpet that "dumps" onto Laburnum Ave.

After crossing the river, we continued west along VA 150/Chippenham Pkwy (mother's goal was to head west out of town along VA 6). Seems that the recently-completed 6-laning was well needed....are there any plans to take out the traffic signals between VA 76/Powhite Pkwy and VA 147/Huguenot Rd?

Noticed a "Begin State Maintenance" sign at the start of VA 150's James River bridge, which also coincided with the City of Richmond/Henrico County line. Does the city maintain their section of VA 150?

VA 150 ends, and becomes Parham Rd, at River Rd just north of the river. There are "Begin BGS" on each side of the River Rd overpass.

Headed west on VA 6....noticed the construction at Future VA 288 (Scott, what type of interchange will this be?). Further west after VA 6 goes down to 2 lanes, it starts getting more hilly. Nice scenery along VA 6, and quite a few horse farms. A correctional facility along the route only slightly degrades the view.

Mom got tired of VA 6, so at Goochland Court House, we turned north and took US 522 up to I-64. I've been on this road before, but I'd forgotten how curvy US 522 is between Goochland C.H. and Gum Spring.

Took I-64 west to Charlottesvile, and opted to take the US 250/US 29 bypass around Charlottesville. There were a few unusual interchanges along the US 250 portion...diamond interchanges at Park St and Rugby Ave that the ramps were mostly 2-way traffic and VERY short in length.

Headed back west on I-64 from US 29. I knew I-64 over Afton Mountain was going to be foggy (fortunately, not as bad as I-68 over Big Savage yesterday), so I opted for taking US 250 over the mountain. I knew US 250 had truck climbing lanes, and that most "through traffic" would stay on I-64, so taking US 250 made for a less stressful drive through the fog.

Back on I-64, and took I-81 south towards Lexington. Remembered that the I-81/US 60 interchange is a 6-ramp par-clo (SW and NE quadrant loops), and that US 60 is 4-laned between Buena Vista and Lexington.  The US 60/US 11 interchange is a diamond interchange along US 11.

The US 11 Lexington bypass (called "the bypass" by the locals) is a 2-lane highway. Didn't see the south end, but it ties into the north end via a partial-directional, and then US 11 is a 5-lane undivided/4-lane divided mix north of there. VA 39 (off of which the Best Western is) ends at the first intersection north of the I-64/US 11 interchange.

After getting our room, we headed into Downtown Lexington for "dinner and a movie". Lexington has a very quaint and vibrant downtown area.  Most of the buildings were fairly well restored, and there were all sorts of shops and restaurants along them. The traffic signals in downtown are street-level, side mounted. Ate at a fantastic Italian restaurant along Main St (our waiter was an Italian native) before watching Bruce Almighty.

Itinerary today includes heading back into Downtown Lexington for some photo taking (ala recent-vintage Adam Prince, but with a digital), visiting Stonewall Jackson's grave (my mother missed it on her last trip to Lexington), seeing Natural Bridge, collecting the last 2 counties I need in Virginia (Bath and Craig), and possibly other sites before we head back east to Virginia Beach.

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