This report is from a daytrip around southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina on January 19, 2004.
Took advantage of a day off yesterday to make a quick roadtrip around the
region to check out some things.
First stop was the Virginia Beach Oceanfront (via US 60/Shore Dr and Atlantic Ave). Pursuant to a thread from a few weeks ago, Virginia Beach has NOT yet posted an END US 60 shield.
However, after continuing further along, via General Booth Blvd and part of Princess Anne Rd, I noticed that there IS an END VA 149 shield at VA 165. However, true to Virginia Beach form, the shields are oval rather than the standard VA route shield.
Kept going on VA 165/North Landing Rd (then Mt. Pleasant Rd)...rather narrow for such a busy highway...only 2 lanes, and they weren't even a full 12-ft lane either. Turned left onto Centerville Tpk, and took that down to BUSINESS VA 168. Much to my surprise, the BUS VA 168/Centerville Tpk intersection has no traffic signal, which makes doing a left turn into a dicey prospect. Luckily, I found a break. Another note about this intersection: the VA 168 trailblazers are missing the BUSINESS banner.
BUS VA 168/Battlefield Blvd passes under the VA 168 Chesapeake Expressway just north of the expressway's toll booth. There's a half-diamond at BUS VA 168 to/from the south, and the trailblazers to head south on VA 168 include a TOLL banner.
BUS VA 168 eventually dumps into VA 168 north of the Northwest River, and the 4-lane route south of there is partially on the old alignment, and partially on new alignment. In fact, there's an abandoned part of the old highway just north of the state line.
Continuing on into NC, NC 168 is a route I've taken before, but didn't really report on. The whole route down to US 158 is a 5-lane undivided section, which I found mildly interesting that NCDOT went with that rather than a narrow 4-lane divided section. There's another abandoned part of the old highway, just south of where NC 168 crosses the railroad. Further south, the NC 168/US 158 intersection has VERY LARGE shields going southbound.
I took US 158 south to NC 136, snapping a picture of the locally-infamous "I Got My Crabs At Dirty Dicks" billboard. At the US 158/NC 136 intersection, the only difference over when NC 136 was NC 3 is that the NC 3 shields have been replaced. Going southbound, you still have no advance warning that your approaching the intersection until you're at the intersection itself. In fact, the NC 136 shields at the intersection look old...almost as if they were taken from the old route.
NC 136 still has no END shields, and only 1 reassurance shield in each direction. However, trailblazer signage is a bit improved...with trailblazers at the two intersections where NC 136 turns...something I don't remember there being with NC 3.
Headed back out to US 158 and headed north...stopped off at an antique store enroute and scored a trio of NC 71-72 maps, plus a 1955 Rand McNally atlas. Further north, at Coinjock, I left the bypass (which is a 4-lane undivided with a high bridge over the Intracoastal Waterway) and took a side trip into town. The old US 158 route through the town is in fairly good shape...it's a dead-end, so being primarily local traffic probably helps it in this regard. At the Intracoastal Waterway, the bridge abutments for the old bridge are still in place on both sides, though the bridge itself is of course gone. Given that this is the Intracoastal Waterway, I'm assuming the old bridge was a drawbridge.
Approaching the intersection with NC 168, there are overhead BGS. I turned left to satay on US 158, and took that 2-lane road west to NC 343, where I opted north to South Mills, at which point I crossed the Dismal Swamp Canal on an old (and narrow) drawbridge along BUS US 17. A brief run on SB US 17, then I took the old route across the Pasquotank River (across a rather non-descript concrete highway bridge). At this point, I took US 158 back to US 17 and headed north.
Construction activity was ongoing after crossing the state line on the US 17 widening project in southern Chesapeake. A number of earthmovers and graders were in operation as I followed along. It's very noticeable now where the roadbeds will be for the new alignment. Construction activity is such now to where there are only two cross-roads open across the construction zone...both controlled by flaggers: Ballahack Rd and Cortland Rd. All other cross-streets are detoured to these two roads or to Dominion Blvd on the north end.
After passing the north end of the construction zone, I took a local shortcut up to VA 165/Cedar Rd, then took that west to "Deep Creek" (a part of Chesapeake). After crossing another old drawbridge over the Dismal Swamp Canal (along another BUS US 17), I headed north to I-64 and west to US 58.
Decided to wait until later to check some things in Suffolk...wound up taking US 58 out west almost to Franklin...to the former-VA 260/now-US 258 east of Franklin. "MGSes" (Medium Green Signs) have been added along WB US 58 approaching the interchange, but there still is no Exit sign at the gore, nor are there route shield trailblazers at the gore now (like there used to be). At the end of the offramp, the BEGIN/END VA 189 shields still exist, though the former BEGIN/END VA 260 shields have only been replaced by a NB US 258 reassurance shield.
US 258 is a nice drive....2 lanes, but with left turn lanes at most intersections. Four bridges across the newer, opened-last-year stretch: two across waterways, one over the railroad, and one over SR 616 (the last bridge to be completed). At the US 258/BUS US 58 intersection, the traffic signal still favors BUS US 58.
Headed east on BUS US 58 back towards Suffolk...there's a relatively newer (note not NEW) overpass over the Seaboard RR at Carrsville, right next to an at-grade crossing which may have been the former, pre-bridge crossing. Been through Holland before, so nothing really exciting there. At the BUS 58/US 58 junction east of Holland, for those of you who haven't been on US 58 yet, EB BUS 58 crosses under the WB mainline lanes, then merges into the EB mainline from the left.
From here, I headed over to check out the entrance to the Washington Ditch path in the Great Dismal Swamp. Route there consisted of US 58, SR 647 (parts of which were being overlayed), VA 32, SR 759, and SR 642 to the entrance. The ditch (and many other ditches within the swamp) is part of the Great Dismal Swamp National Wildlife Refuge, and is maintained by the US Fish and Wildlife Service. I didn't venture in too far...just parked my car to look at the kiosks, then headed back.
Back out via SR 642, SR 674, SR 705, and SR 646 to US 13/VA 32, and on up to Suffolk to try and solve the "VA 32 enigma". When the SW Suffolk Bypass was opened, US 13 was rerouted to it, and signage updated, but signage is unclear as to whether VA 32 follows the bypass now. My run yesterday did not find any answers. Signage on US 58 at the SW Bypass indicates "TO VA 32", nor are there any VA 32 shields along either the SW Bypass or the US 58 Bypass. Furthermore, signage at the US 58-VA 10/32 interchange indicates VA 32 going through town. However, signage at the US 13 end of the SW Bypass clearly shows a "BUSINESS VA 32" going into town, while there is also a SB overhead BGS on N Main St (before one gets to the Nansemond River) that also shows a BUS VA 32. And so, the mystery continues until someone gets a confirmation from VDOT.
That was the end of most of my trip...I spend the rest of the time taking backroads back home...and also clinched US 17 through the Hampton Roads area (I was missing most of US 17's run through Portsmouth).
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