This report is from a weekend roadtrip mostly around eastern Virginia and the Delmarva Peninsula at the end of January, 2004.

Weekend roadtrip: VA-MD-VA-NC (long)

Took advantage of good weather and a "roadtrip bug", and headed out for what wound up becoming a 2-day excursion around eastern Virginia, the Maryland Eastern Shore, and parts of North Carolina. Amongst other things, I met Corey Dukes, and also visited a friend who recently had neck surgery at Walter Reed Army Medical Center near D.C.

Day 1: Virginia Beach to Dahlgren, VA.

- After gas stop and ATM, I headed out and up the CBBT. While I've done this many a time, this time I slowed down a little and took some photos of the northbound trek. Never noticed it before, but there's a "Deer Crossing" sign on Fisherman's Island.

- Just past the southbound toll booth and the rest area is SR 600. A few hundred feet east of US 13 along this brings one to the visitor center for the "Eastern Shore of Virginia National Wildlife Refuge", which is still open in the wintertime, albeit reduced hours (10-2, Fri-Sun). Stopped here for the first time, and noticed quite a few displays showing some natural history of the area, plus the various facilities the National Park Service maintains along the Eastern Shore.

- $2.50 (for a NWR patch) later, I was back out on US 13 heading north.  Sometime since summer, VDOT has added a distance sign along NB 13, just north of the CBBT, showing distance to both VA 175 and the MD line. This is now the first distance sign one sees after crossing the CBBT.

- Continued north, snapping quite a few pictures along the way (more than I normally do). At Exmore, I took BUS 13 into town, where I stopped at my "usual" antique store and snagged an '89 MD map, a '63 Norfolk "Tourgide Map" from Gulf, and 5 other oil maps from the 60s and early 70s, of NJ, PA, OH, and NYC, all of which show proposed but cancelled freeways in the major urban areas.

- Out of Exmore, I took VA 178 up to VA 180, and conversely clinched my last VA primary highway on the Eastern Shore. According to the signs, Belle Haven is an incorporated town that falls within both Northampton and Accomack Counties.  Found that interesting. Also saw a church along VA 178 that looked like it had civil defense sirens hooked up to its steeple. Took VA 180 up to its end in Harborton to get some better photographs (my earlier end photos were blurred), then headed back to VA 178.

- VA 178 and VA 180 have a very brief (about 70 feet) duplex, basically where VA 180 takes a couple turns due to the streets on either side of VA 178 not quite lining up. After photographing that, I headed north up VA 178, which subsequently turns into SR 718, then up SR 638 into Onancock, where I picked up VA 179.

- Didn't notice this before, but the VA 179/VA 126 intersection has a ghost grade nearby that looks as if it favored VA 126 at one point. Will have to look into this more later. Took VA 126 over to VA 316, then up.

- It's been mentioned before that VA 316, between Tasley and Parksley, is concrete, along with about 5' paved shoulders. I continue to find this interesting, given "normal VDOT practice" when it comes to rural 2-lane roads.

- 3 stop signs in all along VA 316: 2 in Parksley (one of them at VA 176), and 1 in Bloxom at VA 187. At Bloxom, the road continues north along the Eastern Shore RR as SR 779, which then turns into SR 693 at Hallwood. SR 693 is rather narrow (but still has a centerline). At SR 702, I turned east to get over to US 13 (a new traffic light at US 13/SR 702 helped in this decision).

- North up US 13, with a brief stop at the MD Welcome Center to get a couple of 03-04 MD maps, then took US 113 up. US 113 is quite a different drive in the daytime than it is at night. A lot less "white-knuckled". Took US 113 to US 50, then east, taking occasional photographs along the way.

- Just before crossing the "Harry W. Kelly Memorial Bridge" (across the south end of Isle of Wight Bay), US 50 narrows to a 4-lane undivided, and continues this across the bridge, which is a drawbridge. In Ocean City, it's hard to tell where US 50 ends...I didn't see an END shield. I'm guessing it's at the 2nd intersection...Baltimore Ave, which is 1-way northbound. In this part of Ocean City, southbound traffic takes Philadelphia Ave, which is 1-way southbound.  Both streets eventually go 2-way around 15th St, and Baltimore Ave eventually ends at around 32nd St (or thereabouts)

- Philadelphia turns into the Coastal Highway...MD 528...and this road is a 6-lane undivided, with an additional outside "auxiliary lane" in each direction that is restricted to buses, bicycles, and those making right turns. This restriction is temporarily lifted around 59th-61st Streets, as MD 90 comes in at around 61st St. There were traffic signals roughly every 3-4 blocks, but they were timed well...only had a couple stops. Speed limit along here was 40 MPH.

- MD 528 keeps that configuration all the way to the state line, which is at 145th St. At the state line, the roadway narrows to 4 lanes divided (the DE 1 configuration), and immediately following is the intersection with DE 20/54 (JCT signs of which are located on the MD side of the border going northbound). Took a couple shots of this intersection before heading back south to MD 90.

- It's been discussed elsewhere on MTR as to what MD 90's basic configuration is (for most intents, a "Super-2"). That said, I was surprised to see that both long bridges (across Assawoman Bay, then the Saint Martin River) were median barrier. Was equally surprised to see a traffic signal at Saint Martins Neck Rd, on the Isle of Wight. Once past those, MD 90 settles into its "modus operandi"...diamond interchange at MD 589, an overgrown "ghost access ramp" to what used to be US 113 (now MD 515), and the 6-ramp par-clo at US 113 (favoring movements to/from the east). Further west, before getting to US 50, there were signs stating that one was leaving the "Coastal Watershed", and then entering the "Cheapeake Bay Watershed". Found it curious that the Chesapeake Bay watershed stretched so far east.

- MD 90 only has access to/from the west on US 50...the merge onto WB US 50 was uneventful, but I noticed out "out in the boonies" US 50 seemed. Stayed this way pretty much all the way to US 13. Took the bypass around Salisbury, and continued west. At Mardela Springs (first traffic signal west of Salisbury), guide signage indicated that both MD 54 and MD 313 ended at US 50. Trailblazers, however, indicated "TO MD 313".

- Eventually made my way through the traffic of the brief 6-lane 35 MPH segment of US 50 through Cambridge, and made a stop at the local Burger King where I met Corey Dukes and discussed the area for a little while. Didn't stay long, because I was enroute to visit my friend. Saw that the old US 50 bridge across the Choptank River has indeed been converted to a fishing pier, and was disgusted to see the moderate development, lack of access control, and slow speeds along US 50 through Easton. MD SHA usually does a fine job with bypasses...even older bypasses...but they clearly dropped the ball at Easton.

- The traffic lights at MD 404 and MD 213 were also pains (both intersections, IMO, should be upgraded to interchanges, ESPECIALLY MD 404), but once past those, things were fair sailing into the US 50/301 duplex and the freeway section. I'd noticed that every "traffic information" sign along WB US 50, clear back to Ocean City, was flashing, urging drivers to "tune into 1610 AM". This, of course, was due to the redecking project at the Chesapeake Bay Bridge.  The westbound span was down to 2 lanes and a 45 MPH speed limit, with the rightmost lane closed and "jersey barriered off". The traffic radio recommended the best weekend times to travel the bridge as "before 11am and after 9pm on Sundays", but traffic flowed well at 6pm on a Saturday. No problems there, and no problems (except for the occasional reckless driver) along WB 50/301 all the way to the 50/301 split.

- Somewhat surprised to see that SB 301 traffic must take a loop off of WB 50....was hoping for some sort of flyover, but I didn't have any problems, and traffic flowed well on US 301 all the way down to the Governer Nice Bridge.  Traffic got heavy briefly along the US 301/MD 5 duplex, but it noticeably thinned out after Waldorf, then noticeably thinned out further after LaPlata.

- Was glad to see that the Nice Bridge takes EZPass. My EZPass account hasn't updated yet, so I'm not sure if they offer an EZPass discount or not (normal toll is $3).

- My friend lives off of US 301 south of Dahlgren, and that's where I wound up spending the night.

Day 2: Dahlgren to Virginia Beach

- Left out this morning, and after a brief stint along US 301, took VA 205 to cut the corner over to VA 3, both to photograph VA 205 and VA 206 ends, and to eventually head over to Fredericksburg to check out the VA 3 "semi-bypass".

- Note to Eric Smith: if you're intending to add Virginia to your "Expressway" page, VA 3 is *NOT* expressway through King George. It's 2-lane undivided through part of town.

- On the Fredericksburg side, WB (or NB?) VA 3 exits itself on the left side, to take a 40 MPH flyover onto the bypass. After crossing the Rappahannock on a non-descript bridge (much less descript than VA 3's other crossing of the Rappahannock), VA 3 has an interchange at VA 2/BUS US 17, but after that, it's only at-grades for the rest of the "bypass". VA 3 then goes through a fairly heavily commercial area before the interchange with I-95.

- I opted south on I-95, and took it down to I-295 to bypass Richmond. Traffic flowed very well...not a whole lot out on a wintertime Sunday, although it seemed every RV I passed heading southbound had Pennsylvania plates.

- Aside from a brief detour on US 360 in Mechanicsville, I stayed on I-295 down to VA 36, where I headed west briefly. WB VA 36 has a BGS approaching the split at VA 144, I took VA 144 just to check it out.

- VA 144 is a very nice 55 MPH expressway (no private accesses and only a few intersections) from VA 36 to just across the Appomattox River...where "commercialism" returns. Although the speed limit drops to 35 MPH through Colonial Heights, VA 144 retains its "limited access" characteristics over to I-95, at which point it starts getting some driveways. Access to I-95 is via an access road and a trumpet interchange (presumably a leftover from the "Richmond-Petersburg Turnpike". VA 144 started out being signed "North", then near I-95 it was signed as "West".

- At US 1/301, VA 144 turns north to follow US 1/301, but I headed south towards Petersburg. The recent bridge construction over the Appomattox was noticeable, and the side road jutting off halfway across the bridge was interesting (didn't get a photo due to traffic). Within Petersburg, routes are fairly well signed, which is a good thing because those routes go all over the place due to Petersburg's haphazard street grid (at one point, SB US 1 actually goes north for 1/2 block). Lots of old buildings in downtown Petersburg.

- Not sure what the street name was, but paralleling the river out of downtown Petersburg, VA 36 follows a small 2-lane street that didn't even have a centerline. Before turning to cross the Appomattox, there was a shield error, directing "US 36" to turn right. Once across the rive and up the hill past Virginia State University, VA 36 bridged over a busy RR, then continued west to its non-descript (and per VDOT normal practice, unsigned) end where SR 669 intersects SR 602 west of Matoaca. After getting a couple photos, I doublebacked to Matoaca to cross the river, photograph VA 226's eastern end, and then follow US 1 south out of Petersburg.

- The 3-lane section on US 1 has been discussed occasionally on M.T.R, and ISTR a thread recently regarding the "suicide lane" configuration in Dinwiddle County. It was specifically because of that thread that I took US 1 south (and eventually took it all the way into North Carolina). Except for two segments, one through South Hill and another for a couple miles on either side of the Roanoke River, US 1 is at least a 3-lane section. Between that, the occasional 4-lane segment, and only one stoplight between BUS US 460 and Norlina, NC (in South Hill), US 1 is an excellent alternative route to I-85 with many passing opportunities and very few traffic slowdowns.

- Between Petersburg and Dinwiddle Court House, the "3rd lane" is predominantly used as a center left turn lane, although there are occasional sections where it's a passing lane....there were a couple more of these passing sections going northbound than there were going southbound. Once through Dinwiddle, US 1 begins the first of five 4-lane divided sections enroute to South Hill. This first one runs from the south edge of Dinwiddle C.H. down to about SR 657 (just north of DeWitt). South of DeWitt is where one of the infamous "suicide lanes" along US 1 wasy (photographed here: This section has been restriped to provide a passing lane alternating between sides, and the occasional left turn lane. Along virtually all of the 3-lane segments south of Dinwiddle Court House, the passing lane alternates back and forth between sides, with left turn lanes primarily at major junctions, semi-major junctions, and in areas with a heavy driveway frequency.

- The second 4-lane segment starts just north of the Nottoway River, and runs for a couple miles south. The third 4-lane segment starts just northeast of Alberta (near SR 614), runs through the I-85 interchange (Exit 28), and ends before VA 46, just after crossing a railroad, where the SB "original lanes" cross under the RR on a very old and narrow underpass, while the newer NB lanes cross OVER the RR on a different alignment. The other two 4-lane divided segments were in western Brunswick County (crossing Shining Creek and the Meherrin River), and a half-mile on either side of the I-85 interchange at Exit 15. The South Hill City Limits were just north of the I-85/US 1 interchange.

- In South Hill, US 1 is primarily a 3-lane section with center left turn lane, but has a brief part with just 2 lanes. There is a traffic signal at BUS US 58/VA 47, where signage has not yet been updated to reflect that it is now BUSINESS US 58 and not mainline US 58. South out of town, the 3-lane section continues down to US 58.

- The US 1/58 duplex is now open to 4 lanes, although A) it is a 5-lane undivided section vice a 4-lane divided, B) there were orange cones in the middle of the turn lane along half the stretch, C) it appears the final asphalt layer has not been applied yet, and D) a 45 MPH work zone speed limit is in effect.

- South of US 58, US 1 continues its 3 lane section, except for a couple miles either side of the Roanoke River where it is just 2 lanes, and it narrows back to 2 lanes on the last hill before hitting the state line. In NC, I stayed on US 1 (then US 1/401 south of I-85) to Norlina, where I headed east on US 158.

- The US 158 "bypass" of Warrenton (signed BYPASS US 158) made me think a lot about North Carolina's lack of access management and access control along its rural non-freeway bypasses.

- Noticed an abandoned railroad grade paralleling US 158 from west of Macon to east of Littleton.

- There's a brief 7-lane section of US 158 in eastern Roanoke Rapids, just before one gets to I-95. This section is also heavily commercialized.

- US 158 takes a pair of one-way streets through Weldon. The EB street crosses under a very old railroad overpass that formerly had 2-way traffic...the two traffic lanes split around a center bridge pier.

- US 158/301 turns onto itself on the east edge of Weldon.

- Next to the US 158/301 crossing of the Roanoke River is an abandoned railroad bridge that had a couple spans missing. Further west but still within view was the existing, in-use railroad bridge.

- Near Pleasant Hill, a new bridge over the RR on US 301 has now replaced what looked to be a much older overpass. This project is still ongoing. Once past Pleasant Hill, I photographed NC 48's end, then US 301 crossing the state line.  Just north of the state line, VDOT has installed a traffic signal at SR 662.  Not sure why....SR 662 is a dead-end road.

- For a change-of-pace, I decided to take backroads through southeastern Greensville and southwestern Southampton Counties. Very little traffic, although passing what little opposing traffic there is can be a harrowing experience on those narrow, curvy roads. In order from US 301, I took SR 628, SR 625, SR 622, SR 730 (crossing the Meherrin), SR 653 (which had a "winding road next 9 miles" sign), SR 659, SR 652, and VA 308. Found VA 308's northern terminus, where SR 612 and SR 735 intersect. After photographing that, I took VA 308 down to US 58, and took US 58 back to Hampton Roads.

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