This was part of a misc.transport.road thread on what posters thought were the top ten highway network weaknesses for their respective states.  Below is what I posted for Minnesota, Mississippi, and Virginia, on January 8, 2004.

MN/MS/VA top ten highway network weaknesses (long)

Doing 3 states here (my primaries).

From Minnesota (and excluding areas already under construction, such as I-494 Wakota Bridge or I-94/694 in northern Hennepin County):

1) Monte mentioned. Given the Governer's recent bonding program and the Legislature's bickering, I highly doubt anything will happen out of it...

2) I-35W/MN 62 "Crosstown Commons". Rated the #1 bottleneck in Minnesota. Under design now. Funding still being hunted down, but will begin reconstruction in late '05 or early '06...

3) I-94 Lowry Hill Tunnel (downtown Minneapolis). Short of a miracle, will not see any improvement. There's been some talk of restriping the EB tube to 4 lanes, but that would result in substandard lane widths (roughly 11') and no shoulder.

4) MN 100 in St. Louis Park. Specifically, between I-394 and 36th St. One of the oldest freeway sections in the Twin Cities (dating back to the "Lilac Way" construction of the '30s and '40s). After I-94/694 widening gets wrapped up, this section will become the most-used 4-lane freeway segment in the Twin Cities (at roughly 120K ADT). There are plans to correct this, but not until 2010...

5) Freeways in southern Hennepin County...particularly I-35W, I-494, US 169, MN 62, and MN 77. All are well over capacity, though besides the current I-494 widening between US 212/MN 5 and MN 100, and the upcoming "Crosstown Commons" project (mentioned above), the only improvements on the table and "somewhat funded" are widening I-494 between US 212/MN 5 and I-394, and upgrading US 169 to freeway from I-494 south to the Minnesota River (including a freeway-to-freeway interchange at I-494/US 169). Richfield, as with Penn Ave a couple years ago, will be spearheading a new SPUI at I-494 and Lyndale Ave in 2006. An EIS for the whole I-494 stretch was completed recently, but no other major improvements I'm aware of are being pursued in the near-to-mid-term...

6) I-694 between I-35W and I-35E. Except for just east of I-35W, traffic in this area is starting to get bad, with traffic levels approaching that of MN 100, MN 62, or I-94/694. The I-694/US 10/MN 51 area requires a lot of weaving (and only 1 continuous through lane each way on I-694), and has been the site of some fatal accidents. Preliminary design for improvements and widening is underway, but as things stand now the soonest we'll see construction is 2012.

7) US 10 through Benton and Sherburne Counties...and even stretching up to Little Falls. This one would sorta fall under Monte's "signals on major expressways" category, but for a specific (and IMHO the worst) corridor. Extremely heavy spring/summer recreational traffic on weekends, and even daily commuter traffic can be bad, particularily in and south of St. Cloud. The signals at CSAH 2 in Rice and CSAH 26 in Royalton are especially bad on summer weekends. While MnDOT's long-term goal (and part of the Corridor Management Plans) is to eliminate as many signals as possible...indeed, the goal is for a freeway from Clear Lake to Little Falls...funding is extremely limited. Indeed, at the present there is no funding for interchanges until after 2012...

8) Lack of a good east-west route across Scott and Dakota Counties. CSAH 42 comes the closest, but was built "hodge-podge" and as such does not have a uniform set of characteristics. CSAH 42 also has many private accesses and too many traffic signals (35, IIRC, in the roughly 12.5 miles between MN 13 and MN 3). While Dakota County completed a corridor vision for CSAH 42 a few years ago, funding is limited, and only occasional improvements are being pursued...the main one at present being consolidation of access and an extension of the 6-lane section from Dakota CSAH 5 west to the Scott/Dakota County line.

My parents live just north of CSAH 42 near the Scott/Dakota County line. Things are bad enough to where I will take CSAH 46 (roughly 1 mile south) and then backroads to get to/from the house, in order to avoid CSAH 42.

There are many other specifics I could mention for Minnesota, but the above 8 are the primary ones IMO.

Mississippi has a fairly good roadway system, and is aggressively pursing an expanded 4-lane highway system (among the best in the country), though there are still a few problems:

1) Lack of paved shoulders on non-Interstates. This one has always bugged me...primarily because it's a safety hazard. Many of the older 4-lane segments, plus most of the 2-lane roads, don't even have a graded shoulder...let alone a paved one. Some of the newer (i.e. within the past 5 years) 4-lane segments have a graded shoulder, and MDOT is starting to make amends with upgrading/reconstructing the existing lanes on newer 4-lane widenings...but they're still only sporadically adding paved shoulders.

2) Lack of decent guide signage on non-Interstates. Not just dealing with that weird font that MDOT used to use, but also the lack of guide signage period.  Some areas are starting to see improvement with side roads and smaller hamlets being marked, but there is still a long ways to go. As for the font, it's only been within the last 5 years that MDOT has started to use FHWA-series fonts on its non-Interstate guide signage (the first examples I can think of being US 45 east of Aberdeen and MS 25 around Carthage).

3) Lack of access management along expressways and principal arterials.  Especially noticeable in cities and built-up areas. Mississippi is very big on property rights, so I don't see this one being improved anytime soon.

4) Freeway traffic in the Jackson area. Except for parts of I-55 in north Jackson, every Interstate in Hinds, Rankin, and Madison Counties (since there are no non-Interstate freeways...and that short stub of US 51 doesn't count) could use at least 1 additional lane in each direction, and in some cases 2 lanes. Only small portions are being considered at present.

5) I-10. A *VERY* busy truck and through-traffic route (some segments have close to 10,000 trucks a day....yes...TRUCKS). Averages in the 30-40K ADT range, with many segments (including almost all of Harrison County) over 40K ADT, some approaching 60K. Could use 6 lanes its entire length, and IMO the US 49 to I-110 stretch will require 8 lanes to handle future traffic. At present, consideration is only being given for 6 lanes from MS 43/603 (Exit 13) to MS 57 (Exit 57)...with the Exit 13 to Exit 16 (Jourdan River Bridge) section under construction and the Beatline Rd (Exit 28) to I-110 (Exit 46) section more or less complete. Upgrading the Pearl River and Pascagoula River bridges would be both expensive and have many environmental impacts.

6) Lack of arterials in Harrison County. Due in no small part to the casino boom in Gulfport and Biloxi, traffic has mushroomed in Harrison County in the last 10 years. The existing east-west arterials...US 90 along the beach and Pass Rd between the Seabee base and Keesler AFB...are seriously overloaded during the day (and afternoon "rush hour" in particular). Also, besides US 49 and I-110, there are no 4-lane north-south arterials between US 90 and I-10 within the county. The traffic problems are further compounded by the lack of crossings across the Back Bay of Biloxi and associated waters east of US 49 (limited to Lowan-Corraine Rd, Popps Ferry Rd, and I-110) as well as there only being two grade-separated crossings of the busy CSX tracks paralleling US 90 (at US 90 west of Pass Christian and the I-110 overpass). A third overpass over the tracks, near the Coliseum and connecting to Popps Ferry Rd, has been bantered about for over 20 years, but nothing has happened. I can attest to the traffic problems. While I was at Keesler AFB, I lived in Long Beach on 28th morning commute averaged 25 minutes...fairly good (but I was also going in as early as 4:30am some days), while traffic was such in the afternoon that it took an average 45 minutes for me to get home.

East-west options are limited. The presence of Keesler AFB prevents extending Pass Rd towards I-110. Gulfport doesn't have the money to improve 28th St.  City and county officials would like to build a new east-west arterial along the CSX tracks, but that would require either ripping up A LOT of nearby homes and businesses, or require relocating the CSX tracks, both of which would be very costly (MDOT is undergoing a corridor study to relocate the CSX tracks across all 3 counties of the Mississippi Gulf Coast, but the least costly alternate right now would still run close to $2 billion). Upgrading US 90 isn't an option due to the beach and occasional casino on one side, and heavy development on the other side.

North-south options are also somewhat limited. I-110 and US 49 currently exist as 4-lane routes north of US 90, but only US 49 extends north of I-10 at the present. Construction is underway on two additional routes: MS 67, which will be a 4-lane "quasi-freeway" (more like a parkway), connecting I-110 at I-10 to US 49 north of Saucier, and MS 605, which is a 4-lane upgrade of Lowan-Corraine Rd between US 90 and I-10 (parts of which have been completed), and a new-location route from I-10 up to the future MS 67. Even with these two routes, traffic will still be a mess within Gulfport and Biloxi. County officials have expressed interest at additional arterials connecting US 90 to I-10...and many of these are in state law under the Gaming Roads Program:

- A couple of western Harrison County connectors, one roughly at Menge Ave and another at roughly Beatline Rd.
- A connector from the Port of Gulfport to I-10 in the vicinity of Canal Rd (labeled "MS 601"). Vision 21 extends this corridor north to US 49 between Lyman and Saucier. Being tentatively pursued as a freeway, though any such freeway south of I-10 would rip up a lot of property.
- The under-construction Lowan-Corraine Rd connector (labeled "MS 605").
- A corridor running generally from US 90 near the Coliseum (west of Beauvoir Ave), crossing the Back Bay at or near Popps Ferry Rd, then crossing the Tchoutacabouffa River to connect to I-10 at or near the Woolmarket interchange (Exit 41/Existing MS 67).
- A route across the Back Bay that would connect Rodenburg Ave to Cedar Lake Rd (and conversely I-10 at Exit 44).
- An eastern connector that would generally connect eastern Biloxi (in the vicinity of Oak St) to I-10 between I-110 and MS 609.

While most of the above corridors fall under the Gaming Roads Program (and conversely Vision 21), area officials are concerned that a MDOT-proposed freeway along the Coliseum-Woolmarket corridor will "eat up" all the funding available to the region. Such a freeway has been estimated in the $200-300 million range...a significant cost.

7) I-20/59 through Meridian. I spent 3 years stationed at NAS Meridian, so I'm also familliar with this one. Traffic is not to the point where drastic action is needed, but it's slowly getting there. The main problems here are a lot of through-truck traffic, closely spaced interchanges (requiring a lot of weaving), and a constrained right-of-way that necessitated design exemptions. Traffic projections indicate the need for 6 lanes between the I-20/59 split and at least MS 19/39, if not US 45. Many area businesses, particularly along "the Interstate", disagree, claiming that reconstruction would hurt business, that the additional noise and pollution from traffic aren't needed, and those who fear their business would have to be relocated due to ROW needs are especially vocal. While these comments aren't entirely unfounded, they are not going to stop traffic increases or the need for improvements. One alternative to through-town improvements is the so-called "Meridian South Bypass". While building such a bypass (which I'd heard while stationed there that it was even considered at one point in the '60s for I-59) would reduce the need for improvements in the city, it brings its own considerable cost and environmental issues. MDOT should be wrapping up a "Meridian traffic study" sometime this year...will be interesting to see what the recommendations are.

8) US 49 between Gulfport and Jackson. Widened in the '60s and '70s in conjunction with the Interstates, US 49 was one of Mississippi's first 4-lane expressways...and certainly the first across longer distances. MDOT's standard policy back then was generally to build 2 parallel lanes and leave it at that.  As a result, many sections of US 49 are extremely substandard, with the lack of shoulders and many small hills reminiscent of their '40s and '50s origins. MDOT has short- and long-range funding to reconstruct many of these segments, but there are still a lot of unfunded improvements needed. Furthermore, MDOT, in conjunction with the Legislature, has identified US 49 as a potential freeway corridor the whole length from Gulfport to Jackson, though any such construction would require a lot of Federal assistance. Should be interesting to see how this one plays out.

9) Lack of connection from US 78 to the Memphis freeway system. This one is primarily Memphis, Shelby County, and TDOT's fault for not upgrading US 78/Lamar Ave to a freeway when they had the chance (about 20-25 years ago). As a result, any such Tennessee connection will be very expensive and require a lot of ROW.  MDOT could remedy this by putting MS 304 on the fast-track. Designating MS 304 as an I-x69 could help in this regard.

10) Substandard bridges across the Mississippi River. While all of the Mississippi River crossings in Mississippi are neat-looking steel-overhead-truss, none of them have shoulders (not even I-20 at Vicksburg). The newest bridge is the eastbound US 65/84 bridge at Natchez, built in the 1980s...but the next-newest before that is from the mid-60s (the above-mentioned I-20 bridge). Their design precludes any widening, so the only solution for adding a proper shoulder is to build a new bridge. As it is, both the US 82 Greenville and US 49 Helena spans are old and will require replacement soon...the US 82 replacement span (a 4-lane freeway span...very good) is partially funded, but the US 49 span isn't. The Great River Bridge at Benoit, to carry I-69, is proposed but unfunded. A potential need has also been identified for a new bridge between Helena and Memphis (due at least partially to traffic increases with the Tunica casinos and resort areas), but any construction is years away.

And finally, Virginia. I'll admit that this one will have a primarily Hampton Roads bias, as this is the area I'm most familliar with:

1) Funding. Same situation as Minnesota, but worse. Some studies I've heard cited in Norfolk mention that transportation is underfunded by some $2 BILLION A YEAR in Virginia. Governer Warner seems more interested in tax reform and other programs than he is regarding transportation, and a multitude of no-tax-pledge Republicans in the General Assembly make any tax increase for transportation a dicey prospect.

2) Lack of controlled-access facilities through or bypassing D.C. 'Nuff said, though aside from the slow upgrading of VA 28 to what will in effect be a freeway, I don't see much happening on this front...

3) Only one controlled-access facility into/out of Hampton Roads. And I-64, as it is, is packed. Another way in or out would be of considerable benefit. There's been some non-official talk of a "Delmarva Interstate", or running a freeway down US 17 to US 64, or going west of Suffolk, but the only serious consideration right now is a freeway or tollway along US 460 between Suffolk and Petersburg. Personally, I think a freeway along US 58 from Suffolk out to Emporia or South Hill would be of more benefit...

4) I-81. Glad something's being pursued here, though I'm a little hesitant on requiring everyone to pay a toll.

5) Lack of access management along Virginia's arterial system. The overabundance of private accesses, public intersections, and skewed intersections along Virginia's 4-lane highways not only causes traffic tie-ups in many areas, but it's also a safety hazard. I'm not saying that every 4-lane highway needs to be a freeway, but there are scores of segments along the system that could use access consolidation and many intersections that could use interchanges, both to improve traffic flow and increase safety. The southern US 15/17/29 junction comes to mind...

6) I-264 Downtown Tunnel/Berkeley Bridge complex. The downtown tunnel, at roughly 100K ADT, is the busiest and conversely the most congested tunnel in Hampton Roads. Simply put, too much traffic for a 4-lane tunnel. The "genius" who designed the newer eastbound Berkeley Bridge span, which requires all EB through traffic to weave to the right in the span of about 1/3 mile, certainly didn't help things. One of the "candidate" projects for the Hampton Roads 2026 Transportation Plan was a 4-lane "Downtown Tunnel/Berkeley Bridge bypass", but with a preliminary $3.6 billion price tag, it didn't go very far.

7) I-64 Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel. Second-busiest tunnel in Hampton Roads, not only does this one get congested during rush hours, but it has a nasty tendency to get backed-up at just about any time of the day. The main culprit (besides accidents): the westbound tube, being the original late-50s tube, is slightly smaller then the newer eastbound tube. Many trucks miss the height restriction, and as a result have to be stopped before the tunnel...and in turn traffic has to be stopped so these overheight trucks can turn around. End result: a very unpredictable mess. I've seen it or heard about it at just about every hour from 5am thru 11pm...and it wouldn't surprise me if it happens at night too.

Improving the situation at the HRBT was the main focus of the Hampton Roads Crossing Study. That study recommended, and the CTB approved, Alternative 9 (CBA 9), which does nothing with HRBT itself. The "Third Crossing" (as it's called) would build a new crossing connecting I-564 near Norfolk Navy Base with I-664 at the bend in the Monitor Merrimac Bridge Tunnel (MMBT). It would also build the "Craney Island Connector" between this new crossing and VA 164 near West Norfolk, and would widen the entire length of I-664, including the MMBT.  The current price tag for the whole project is $4.4 billion, and this high price tag has many in the region worried, ranging from concern to outright (and vocal) opposition. The city of Hampton has gone on record as favoring widening HRBT over building the "Third Crossing", though most other government officials, the HRPDC (local MPO) and CTB support the "Third Crossing" project.

From both a cost and a traffic standpoint, Alternative 1 (CBA 1) from the study is a better choice. This option would widen HRBT to 10 lanes (8 regular lanes plus 2 multi-modal lanes), much as CBA 9 does with MMBT. It would also expand I-64 on either side, with the project termini being I-564 in Norfolk and I-664 near Hampton Coliseum. 2015 traffic projections from the EIS have this alternative reducing traffic at HRBT by 36% over the "No Build option", versus a 17% reduction with the "Third Crossing" alternative. Widening I-64 and HRBT would also cost considerably less, with a current estimated cost of $2.7 billion. Still significant, but a good 40% less than the "Third Crossing".

Will be interesting to see how this battle pans out...

8) I-64 through Norfolk, namely the section from I-564 to I-264. A lot of recurring congestion on this route...some of it like clockwork (WB near Northampton around 6:30am...EB at Tidewater around 4:15pm-ish)....the recurring congestion clearly points to a lack of capacity. A pair of reversible HOV lanes (open to all traffic in the peak-direction during non-peak hours) runs down the median, but are vastly underused during peak hours (6-8am, 4-6pm), and at this point (given this long after HOV lane opening), getting a significant number of additional carpoolers to/from Norfolk Navy Base or the Penninsula seems unlikely. A $2.7 billion price tag for a 4+2+4 cross-section prevented its inclusion in the draft transportation plan, though IMHO spot improvements would be useful.

The worst location by far is the ramp merge from SB US 13/Northampton Blvd onto EB I-64. This heavy traffic movement only has about 1000' feet to merge onto the EB lanes, and traffic backs up significantly...I routinely see half-mile backups on Northampton Blvd as a result of this ramp and merge, especially in the early evening. I sent a letter to VDOT suggesting building an auxiliary lane from this ramp merge down to I-264, but never got a reply. I've also suggested auxiliary lanes in 4 other locations: WB between Northampton Blvd and Military Hwy (another heavy and nasty merge, but with only 100' to merge), both directions between Chesapeake Blvd and Tidewater Dr, and WB from the NB Tidewater Dr onramp to the I-564 split. These 5 auxiliary lanes would significantly improve operations along I-64, at much less cost than adding a regular lane.

9) US 17/Dominion Blvd in Chesapeake. This 2-lane road is bad. Real bad. I came less than a second from being hit head-on by someone passing in the opposite direction. Too much traffic for a 2-lane road, plain and simple. The underway relocation project will improve the southern 10 miles or so, bypassing a very nasty section near the Great Dismal Swamp, but the remainder of the corridor will remain a mess, with no easy (or funded) answer in sight.  Chesapeake has gone on record with their dissatisfaction with the MPO regarding not adding Dominion Blvd to the draft 2026 transportation plan.

10) I-264 interchanges in Virginia Beach....including the I-64 interchange.  Every interchange along I-264 between I-64 and Lynnhaven Pkwy is underpowered, and they cause daily backups on the side streets. Some...specifically the Witchduck Rd interchange (and the strange design it is), hearken back to the days of the VA 44 toll road. Reconstruction and improvements to the Witchduck and Newtown Rd interchanges, plus minor improvements to one of the 64/264 ramps, made it into the 2026 transportation plan, but that still leaves 3 other underpowered and congested interchanges.

That's it for my 3 main states.

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