This report is from Day 2 of a trip from Mayport, FL back to Norfolk, VA, on August 5, 2003.

A run to Norfolk, Phase 2 (long)

Checking in the following day. Took most of yesterday to get from Ridgeland, SC back to Hampton Roads. Here's the play-by-play:

- Left Ridgeland heading north on I-95....fairly uneventful. Exited onto US 17 North at Exit 33.

- Those first few miles along US 17 basically set the stage for the rest of the trip through South Carolina: no shoulders (not even on many 4-lane divided highways), few-to-no turn lanes (the lack of left-turn lanes on the divided highways was a particular pain...even in NC, this was sometimes the case), an acute lack of access management (which means an acute overload of private driveways and accessways), and less-than-stellar signage.

- US 17 is 4-lane divided from I-95 to the split with US 21 (at the end of a wrong-way duplex at that). The split at US 21 is a 3-way split with a commercial area in the middle. Traffic flow favors US 17.

- From the US 21 split to Jacksonboro (and the SC 64 junction), US 17 is two lanes. Noticeable improvements have been made along the stretch over the years...three passing lane areas, an occasional turn lane, and obvious alignment shifts.....there were many old/abandoned/ghost roadbeds showing the former alignment. The rest of US 17 to Charleston was uneventful overall.

- Took EB I-526 around Charleston to check it out. At the western US 17 junction, it was obvious that I-526 was intended to travel further south, both by the ghost grades, and the exit numbers (which curiously only existed between I-26 and the Wando River) which didn't match up to existing mileage. Is this southern extension still an active proposal?

- The I-26/I-526 junction is mostly elevated and includes a couple of flyovers (EB 526 to WB 26, and EB 26 to EB 526).

- From Mount Pleasant, took US 17 back west (sic south) towards Charleston. The traffic lights through Mount Pleasant were a bit of a pain.

- Saw the occasionally-MTR-mentioned Cooper River bridges, both current and under-construction. Judging from the condition of the existing bridges, it looks like the new bridge won't come a moment too soon. BTW, what will happen to the existing bridges when the new bridge opens?

- Many of the intersections along US 17 west of I-26 (skirting downtown Charleston) don't allow turns.

- A couple of interesting interchange configurations along US 17 on either side of the Ashley River drawbridges.

- Took SC 171 south and double-backed on SC 30. Is an extension of SC 30 to the southwest still being considered?

- SC 30/SC 61 interchange is a trumpet (SC 61 to NB 30 loop), while SC 30 has some interesting ramps dumping into downtown streets.

- Headed back up to US 17 and up and onto I-26. Took I-26 all the way to I-95. Noticed that, not counting construction related to the US 17 Cooper River bridge, I-26 is 6+ lanes all the way up to the ALT US 17 interchange at Exit 199 (over 20 miles worth).

- Many of the interchanges between I-526 and ALT US 17 were seeing some sort of construction. Looked like interchange reconstructions and widening of the cross-roads.

- I-26/I-95 junction was an uneventful cloverleaf.

- Back on I-95 up to US 378, then east. Looks like SCDOT is widening the US 378 Lake City bypass.

- Ducked into Marion County briefly to "claim" that county. The US 378/SC 41 bridge over the Pee Dee River is a long, 1950s-style concrete bridge. Doubling back, the US 378/SC 41/SC 51 junction has a traffic signal, and US 378 is briefly 5 lanes.

- Headed south on SC 41/51, then east on SC 261. SC 41/51 between Johnsonville and Hemingway is 5-lane undivided. SC 261 has to turn onto itself at its junction with SC 513.

- Took US 701 up to Conway. After crossing the Pee Dee River, I was surprised to see a very modern-looking Horry County Library/EMS Station combo.....then I realized that Horry County includes both Conway and Myrtle Beach. Further north, US 701 becomes 5-lane undivided at the Conway city limits.

- US 501 is grade-seperated from US 701 in Conway, with the connection made via a city street. Where that city street connects to US 501 is also US 378's eastern terminus.

- Took US 501 north, then east on SC 22 to check out that highway.  Spotted a "Future I-73 Corridor" sign along NB US 501 just before SC 22. Wonder when NG/American is going to take off its atlas that SC 22 is "2 lanes"...

- 60 MPH must be a non-Interstate standard for SC divided highways, regardless of access control. I saw that speed limit not only on SC 22 and SC 31, but on rural divided highways such as US 17, US 378, US 501, and SC 9. I know the speed limit on SC 31 has been discussed before on MTR. This "non-Interstate standard" might be why it's 60 MPH.

- Impressive almost-urban-style interchange at SC 22/SC 31. Flyover ramps for NB 31-to-WB 22 and SB 31-to-EB 22.

- The SC 22/US 17 junction is a trumpet (NB 17 to WB 22 loop)...looks like traffic flow favors to/from North Myrtle Beach. Headed south from here.

- Opted for US 17 vice BUS US 17 through Myrtle Beach. Was glad to see some sort of access control along US 17, although the traffic lights were still a pain.

- US 17 has a partial interchange with some sort of parkway (don't recall the name...starts with a "G") in Myrtle Beach, which is a connector over to SC 31. Where does this parkway go southeast of US 17?

- The US 17/US 501 junction is a cloverleaf with some hairy ramps (tight turns and lack of acceleration lanes).

- A fair amount of construction along US 501 between US 17 (including that interchange) and SC 31. One could almost call this section a freeway now.

- The US 501/SC 31 interchange was built to support a southern extension of SC 31. Any firm plans for this?

- SC 31 was a nice drive. 6 lanes...full access control (only 4 interchanges total)....not much traffic (yet). Saw some large homes going up in the northeast quadrant of the SC 22/SC 31 interchange.

- The SC 9/SC 31 interchange is a trumpet (WB 9 to SB 31 loop)....doesn't appear like a northern extension is being considered, at least at this time.

- Took SC 9 up to SC 905, which became NC 905. Noticeable pavement condition/quality change at the state line. Took NC 904 to get back to US 17. NC 904 turns onto itself at Longwood.

- The US 17 bypass of Shallotte could be considered a freeway. The ends have at-grade intersections, but the bypass itself has full access control. Picked up a couple of the 2003 NC maps at the rest area at the NC 130 interchange.

- Continued north on US 17 (including the freeway portion with US 74/76), and stopped to tour the battleship USS North Carolina, accessed off of US 421 North. The access road to the battleship memorial has a couple ghost/abandoned roadbeds on either end....looks like it may have been a former alignment of US 17/74/ lined up with one of the city streets in Wilmington.

- After touring the battleship, I headed into Wilmington. There's a 4-way US highway multiplex crossing the Cape Fear River...17/74/76/421. "Back on land", I headed north along BUS US 17 into downtown.

- No signage for US 117 downtown, while I later learned that US 117 has been rerouted to follow NC 132. When did this change?

- Tight folded-diamond interchange along NC 132/US 117 at US 17/74.

- NC 132 leads into the beginning of I-40...I missed a photo opportunity for the Begin I-40 shield. Took I-40 up to Burgaw for gas/lunch. Out of Burgaw, I opted for NC 53 over to Jacksonville.

- Construction at the US 258/NC 53 junction in Jacksonville....looked like it was related to the under-construction Jacksonville bypass.

- While sitting through light after light in Jacksonville, I was pondering what it would take to get development power *OUT* of the hands of developers...the over-commercialization of Jacksonville, and moreso the traffic it caused, was very noticed and very frustrating.

- Out of Jacksonville, I took US 17 the rest of the way through North Carolina. A question for John Lansford, James Dunlop (sp?), or any of the other NC types: does NCDOT have any plans to widen the remaining 2-lane sections of US 17 in the state? Of particular note was the section between Jacksonville and New Bern....heavy traffic through there.

- US 17 is briefly a 6-lane arterial, between NC 43 and US 70 in New Bern. Later on, I had my second opportunity to view the impressive US 17/US 70/NC 55 interchange on the edge of the Neuse River.

- Took the bypass around Williamston. Was somewhat surprised to see it as an arterial north of US 64...was expecting a freeway, as per what the maps indicated. Still some construction along the portion north of US 64...and except for flyovers for US 64 traffic, was surprised to see that junction as an at-grade intersection.

- Hadn't noticed this before, but the mile markers installed for the US 17 Elizabeth City bypass run all the way up to the VA line.

- Was too dark for photos by this time, but light enough to see that clearing has been completed for the US 17 widening/relocation project in Chesapeake. Grading of the roadbed is underway. Note for Scott Kozel: I couldn't tell if there were 4 new lanes being built along that southernmost 1.7 miles (the part of the project along existing US 17), or if there's 2 new lanes being built, and then the existing 2 lanes will be rehabbed later. Looked like enough was being cleared/graded for 4 new lanes except at/near the state line itself...

- Besides being nearly side-swiped at the US 17/VA 165 intersection, the rest of the trip home was uneventful...

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