This report is from Day 2 of a weekend roadtrip across much of Virginia, on May 24, 2003.
Here's the rest of the "report" from my mother's and my weekend roadtrip,
this post covering Saturday.
After checking out of the hotel (and having breakfast), we headed south into downtown Lexington, which is very quaint and well preserved. Lots of red-brick buildings in the area. At least 6 intersections downtown have traffic signal control, using street-level, side-mounted signals...the two US 60/US 11 intersections (US 11 travels on a 1-way street pair through downtown) have 5-lens vertical signals for left turns from US 60.
A few blocks south of downtown is the Stonewall Jackson Memorial Cemetery, where "Stonewall" is buried along with much of his family, a few other generals (at least 1 other from the Civil War) and other dignitaries from the region (including the first U.S. Senator from west of the Blue Ridge). Lots of CSA plaques within the cemetery.
After finishing through Lexington, headed west on US 60, then joined up with I-64 West and took that out to VA 42. A quick 5-mile(ish) trip up VA 42 bagged Bath County, so named apparently because of the multiple hot springs within the county. At the county line was the first of many historical plaques I noticed at county line crossings across western Virginia, with these "county line plaques" detailing when each county was created, and some of the background history behind the formation of the county.
Back out to I-64, then south on US 220. The US 220/BUS US 60 junction is a trumpet interchange (NB-WB loop), while a 1/4 mile south (across Dry Creek) is the US 220/BUS US 220 intersection (a skewed T-intersection). A bit more traffic along US 220 than your typical 2-lane, but still manageable.
Just south of Iron Gate, the US 220 James River bridge (at Lick Run) was noticeably built to accommodate a 4-lane divided cross section. The bridge was striped as if it would hold the future northbound lanes (with a wide NB shoulder, and relatively narrow SB shoulder), and there was a wide ROW along the bridge approaches (between the 2 curves on either side).
After consulting the DeLorme God, I thought we'd take a "short cut" east along SR 622 from Gala, to cut down some mileage enroute to Natural Bridge (our next destination at the time). Big mistake. SR 622 was paved for the first 2 or 3 miles east of Gala, then turned to gravel. We decided to stick it out, and saw some awesome scenery and vistas as we (slowly) headed east through what literally was the "middle of nowhere" (very few driveways along the eastern portion).
SR 622 junctions with SR 612 (another gravel road), and there's a 1.5 mile trip north to be able to continue east on SR 622. We tried this, but SR 622 east of SR 612 is an earthen road. Between that, the recent rains causing ruts, and the rocks in the road, we opted (after a 1/4 mile attempt) to forego SR 622, and headed south on SR 612 down to VA 43 to continue east.
VA 43, as with many western Virginia state highways, has very few passing zones, but at least it was paved (unlike SR 622/SR 612). VA 43 crosses underneath I-81 enroute into Buchanon. The northern US 11/VA 43 intersection is a T-intersection with a nasty blind curve on SB US 11.
Briefly back out onto I-81 (busy as usual), then along US 11 to Natural Bridge (where my mother didn't realize we were crossing over the bridge until we were viewing it from below). Natural Bridge, although it costs $10 to see it, is to put it mildly, an awesome view. Hard to believe that nature created this, not to mention that the top is stable enough to where US 11 runs over the top. The trail along Cedar Creek continues for about 3/4 mile beyond the Natural Bridge, and following the trail, one passes Saltpeter Cave (where the Confederates harvested bird/bat droppings to be used to make gunpowder), the "Lost River" (an outlet into Cedar Creek that has an unknown source, even with modern dye testing and everything), a 1740s-era Monacan Indian village, and a waterfall.
After finishing at Natural Bridge, we headed back onto I-81 to head south towards Christiansburg. I-81 was quite busy (as usual), but still moving fairly well. Enroute, we saw a TV newscrew north of Roanoke that was just wrapping up as we passed....I'm guessing they were there for a story relating to I-81 holiday traffic.
Exited I-81 at the Exit 118 C/D road, to get on US 460 West. Noticed that, while the NB I-81 lanes through the reconstructed Exit 118 remain at 2 lanes, the SB lanes briefly widen to 4 lanes just north of the US 11 part of the interchange, presumably to help the SB hill climb.
Travelled the US 460 bypasses, including the new section. Was impressed at the US 460/BUS US 460/Future Smart Road interchange, with the partially-unfinished embankments with the Smart Road bridges at the interchange, the blank BGSes along EB US 460, and the partially covered BGS on the NB US 460 exit ramp to BUS US 460 (could not tell what the covered BGS was for).
Took US 460 west towards Narrows. Saw the milemarkers that HB Elkins mentioned....further noticed that there were 0.2 milemarkers as well. Took a brief trip up VA 42 to catch Craig County...ran into bridge construction on VA 42 at Sinking Creek enroute, where the bridge was down to 1 lane with traffic signal control. After heading back out to US 460, we continued west to Narrows.
Searched around for, but did not find, any cutouts within Narrows. After giving up on that, took a few photos of the Narrows "downtown" (not much to it), before heading west along VA 100 towards Pearisburg. A friend of mine lives just off of VA 100 between Narrows and Pearisburg, but she wasn't home. An odd intersection setup where VA 100 ties into old US 460 on the west edge of Pearisburg. If you look at this Terraserver image:
Southbound VA 100 is directed onto that east-west street near the middle.
Headed through Pearisburg along VA 100 (which takes a turn at BUS US 460). Stopped at some sort of living history festival at the Giles County Historical Society. A bunch of historical displays and costumes (French and Indian War, Revolutionary War, Civil War), the Andrew Johnston House (which dates from 1829), and a trial re-enactment based on a real trial that took place in 1780s-era Botetourt County (the guy was found guilty of assault-and-battery and public drunkenness, and got to have food thrown at him for 3 hours as sentencing).
After leaving the history festival, we headed south along VA 100 back to I-81 at Dublin. Found 4 sets of cutout shields at the southern/eastern VA 100/BUS US 460 intersection in Pearisburg (managed to photograph one of them). Further south, starting about 2 miles south of Pearisburg, it is easy to tell that the southbound lanes were the original lanes, as they meander back and forth quite a bit, as seen in this Terraserver view:
Further south, there's about a 3-4 mile gap between the 4-lane sections. Does anyone know of VDOT has long-range plans to close this gap? I saw that the northernmost part of the southern 4-lane section looked like newer construction.
Further south, the access road off of VA 100 to the New River Valley Airport (I forget the secondary route number offhand) was a 4-lane highway. Still further south, the US 11/VA 100 junction is a 5-ramp partial cloverleaf (with US 11 being the primary route), SB 11 to SB 100 being the loop.
Back onto I-81 (and the associated traffic), we headed southwest to Wytheville to see that town, and this also allowed me to clinch my last remaining part of I-81 between Knoxville and Harrisburg. Traffic was moving well along the I-77/81 overlap. Looked to me like they could squeeze maybe 1 more lane in through most of the overlap, but any more than that would need more ROW.
Headed as far southwest as Rural Retreat (both to document VA 90's termini, but also because there's no SB off-ramp at Exit 67) before heading back east and through Wytheville. Downtown Wytheville looked fairly clean, and I noticed "Signal No. X" signs on many of the traffic signals through town (X being the relevant number).
Back onto I-81, then south on I-77 to US 58 and Hillsville. Photographed one of the many sets of cutout shields at the US 52/58/221 intersection, grabbed VA 100's southern terminus, then continued east. Last major stop along our roadtrip was at Lover's Leap to see the view. Was a bit hazy, but still a fairly good view of the valley below.
No major change in status at the Stuart bypass since my last time through (about 10 months ago). The bypass was open then, but it is still only 2 lanes with a 40 MPH speed limit. The 4-lane doesn't open up until just east of town.
Opted to go through Martinsville instead of around, in order to grab dinner. The BUS US 58/BUS US 220 interchange is a bit odd...kinda like a trumpet, but with two loops instead of one (not sure if Kurumi has figured out a name for this type yet):
Heading north into town, there's an interesting set of overhead BBS (Big Brown Signs) showing various tourist attractions, though it was getting a bit dark for a photo. Continued east through town along BUS US 58 (after stopping for dinner at a Chinese buffet....good rule of thumb: go when the food is hot, i.e. not at 8pm). Was good and dark by the time we got to Danville, but that didn't stop us from going through downtown to see it (lots of boarded-up storefronts...pretty sad according to my mother).
Rest of the trip home was pretty much along US 58. At South Boston, we found the cheapest gas along the trip (and, in fact, the cheapest gas I've seen in over a year): $1.199 at a Sheetz at the US 58/US 501 intersection. An eastbound bridge between South Boston and Clarksville had recently been widened.
Construction apparently progressing on the Clarksville Bypass. On the west end of town, all the realigning is completed, and US 58 traffic must "turn onto itself" from now until the bypass opens. Bridge piers and overpass construction still ongoing at the east end of the future bypass.
As mentioned previously on MTR, the southern US 1/US 58 intersection has been realigned with US 58 as the through route, although there's still a ways to go before the 4-laning is complete.
East of South Hill was rather uneventful except for two items: there's a bridge project on the eastbound lanes between Brodnax and Emporia (don't remember if it's east or west of Lawrenceville) that is STILL going on (for over a year now). Last item of note: US 13 is now signed along the US 58 Suffolk Bypass.
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