This report is from a daytrip across southeastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina on May 17, 2004.

SE VA/NE NC Roadtrip (long)

Hi all. Took advantage of good (albeit hot and hazy) weather and an afternoon off yesterday to pop around to various locations on a daytrip.

- Started by making my way south to US 17/Dominion Blvd (formerly VA 104). I've always known that Dominion Blvd is a 2-lane roadway on a 4-lane ROW, but this time I was looking to see if it was limited access. Kinda, but not really.  There are a few private accesses south of VA 165/Cedar Rd, and one gas-station access southbound right at the Dominion/Cedar intersection.

- Further south, construction on the new 4-lane realignment of US 17 is progressing well....looks like they're starting to work on the roadway base in many areas. The connector to existing US 17/BUS US 17 already has base pavement laid. Still some roadway grading work to do near the south end of the project.  Noticed on the VDOT Dashboard that the completion date has been shifted from the original November '05 to mid-January '06...

- Existing US 17/George Washington Highway, meanwhile, seems to have had a mill-and-overlay recently. The pavement was a lot smoother than I remember it previously.

- Found out the hard way that the Visitor Center at the Dismal Swamp Rest Area/Welcome Center is closed on Mondays. But was able to acquire the new 2004 NC map elsewhere (see below).

- Milemarkers on US 17 north of Elizabeth City now go all the way to the state line. Northernmost milemarker was MM 277, maybe 1/2 mile south of the state line.

- In response to a John Lansford post from a few weeks ago, there is no construction at the north end of the Elizabeth City bypass. No need to, as there's already a full interchange at the north end.

- Noticed that about the northern half of the Elizabeth City bypass has flowers planted along the fencelines. Couldn't tell what type of flower, but there were a lot of whites, pinks, and magentas in bloom.

- The exit for the new Halstead Blvd Ext (signed as such on the BGS) is Exit 258. The BGS have room above Halstead Blvd Ext for another roadname...presumably whatever gets extended west of the interchange...but is currently blank.

- As John mentioned, the roadway indeed ends immediately west of the interchange...complete with "Road Ends 500FT" and 1000FT signs. The bridge across BYPASS US 17 is 3 lanes plus shoulders.

- Took the extension into E-City to check it out. The "typical section" begins right at the NB BYP 17 ramps, and is 4-lanes divided with a grassy and curbed median, and median openings every so often with left turn lanes at each opening.  Speed limit is 50 MPH. One thing that surprised me are the multitude of speed limit signs. On average, there was a speed limit sign about every 800-1000 feet. I've never seen so many on a road before.

- Question for John Lansford: as development occurs, will private accesses be allowed onto Halstead Blvd? Or will it be limited to intersections only? I hope it's the latter. Private driveways would easily bog down such a nice road as that.

- As John mentioned previously, there's one decent curve just before getting to the railroad crossing...the curve is signed for 35 MPH (advisory speed).

- At the signal with existing US 17/Halstead Blvd, I noticed that instead of using loop detectors, NCDOT installed camera detectors at the top of the signal masts. Also noticed that there are two left turn lanes from WB Halstead to SB US 17.

- At the BUS US 17/Halstead Blvd intersection, there's a sign on SB BUS 17 stating "No Outlet To US 17 South". Traffic must use Halstead Blvd to get back to US 17...this would explain the dual-left-turn lanes mentioned above.

- Took the Halstead Blvd Extension back to BYPASS US 17. Approaching the interchange, the right lane becomes a right-turn-only lane for the NB on-ramp.  I crossed the bridge and headed back south.

- Just south of the end of the bypass, there's construction going on that restricts US 17 to one lane each way. John had mentioned this construction before, suggesting a trumpet interchange was being built. I took a good look going through, and what it appears to be instead is a new local-access interchange being built at Okisko Rd, which is the first cross-street south of the end of the bypass. When the bypass opened, the median opening at Okisko Rd was taken out, making it a right-in/right-out on each side of US 17. Now, they're building an overpass for Okisko Rd, and access ramps to/from US 17. The SB off-ramp will be a loop...couldn't immediately tell how the ramps will be configured going NB.

- Hopped off US 17 at NC 37 North, to take some photos of old abandoned US 17 roadway. The abandoned roadway is such that it appears US 17 was 4-laned north of Hertford before Hertford was bypassed.

- Decided to stay on NC 37, which shortly became BUS US 17, and go through Hertford. BUS US 17 crosses the Perquimans River on an old swing-span bridge...which was in the process of completing a swing when I approached. Stopped in downtown Hertford, where I found a "gold mine" at a local antique store...nabbed the following: '65 MD, '66 NC, '67 NC, '68 NC, '80-81 NC, and '84-85 NC. The '66 and '80-81 NC maps are duplicates for me, so if any of the NC types are interested in trading, please E-mail me off-site.

- Staying on BUS US 17 requires two turns within Hertford. Once out of town, I hopped back onto US 17 and continued south. Turned onto NC 37 South, which at the junction with NC 32 flows seamlessly into NC 32 South (SB NC 32 thru traffic must yield, while NB NC 32 thru traffic must turn left) and continued across the roughly 3.5-mile-long bridge across Albemarle Sound.

- At US 64 (a 3-way "Y"), I opted to head east to check out construction of the new US 64. Once it's back along the existing route, the new roadway is being built immediately south of existing US 64, which will become the north frontage road...and is already completed as such in and around Creswell.

- From what I could tell, the new US 64 will be freeway at least to east of the Washington/Tyrrell County line. I could see no at-grade intersections being added along it. Interchanges are being added at Mile Wretch Rd (just east of where it rejoins the existing US 64 ROW), and at Creswell. East of Creswell, underpasses are being built at Woodley Station Rd and Travis Rd (both in Tyrrell County, which leads credence to the idea that it will be freeway through this point).

- The new US 64 will leave the existing US 64 around this point, only to rejoin just west of the Scuppernong River. The river bridge looks like it will be 4 or 5 lane undivided...traffic is along what will be the eastbound lanes, and a wider section looks like it will continue through to the NC 94 intersection.

- Stopped at the Visitor Center in Columbia, where I finally got copies of the 2004 NC map. By this point, a thunderstorm was in full swing, so it was wet-going with limited photo opportunity (the rain had started a few miles west of Columbia). Headed back west on US 64 to further check out the new construction. West of Creswell, roadway base was mostly completed and some paving was started, while east of Creswell, there is still roadway grading going on.

- I stayed on US 64 all the way west to Rocky Mount. I could not tell where the new roadway will rejoin near construction was evident. Through Plymouth and west to near the Martin/Washington County line, US 64 is 5-lanes undivided with curb and gutter. Further west, WB US 64 "exits onto itself" and follows a flyover at the north end of the Williamston bypass, passing over what is now the ALT US 64/US 13/US 17 intersection. A reciporichal ramp allows EB US 64 traffic to bypass the intersection.

- From just south of US 13/17/ALT 64 over to ALT 64/BUS 64 near Rocky Mount, US 64 is 70 MPH. Very nice to see that.

- Exit 491, east of Tarboro, includes "SR 1524" on the BGS.

- Near Tarboro, WB 64 traffic wanting to get to US 258 North is directed to use the NC 33 interchange, which is a half-diamond to/from the east. Reason for this is because the 64/258 North interchange is a half-interchange to/from the west.

- Relatively short distance between the two 64/258 interchanges, in the process crossing the Tar River. Auxiliary lanes exist between the two interchanges.

- Related to an earlier thread: further west, near the east end of Rocky Mount, ALT US 64 becomes BUSINESS US 64 after crossing the US 64 freeway.

- Exited onto BUS US 301 South to go through Rocky Mount. Near the north end of downtown, BUS US 301 goes from a 3-lane street to a 1-way pair of 3-lane streets, and follows this through downtown. Noticed that BUS US 64 is also on a pair of 1-way streets through downtown. BUS US 301 switches back to a single roadway 1 block south of NC 97.

- In southern Rocky Mount, at Kingston Ave and just east of BUS 301, there is a 1-lane "tunnel" underpass under a busy CSX rail yard. Direction through the tunnel is directed by a traffic signal. The tunnel is also very low...vertical clearance is only 8 feet.

- Turned back north and took BYPASS US 301 north around Rocky Mount. Nominally a 4-lane divided, the route also has a couple of interchanges and overpasses mixed in among the intersections and private driveways. At NC 97 was a narrow diamond interchange, while an overpass existed at Bethlehem Rd. A really weird partial interchange existed at BUS US 64, with another overpass at Hunter Mill Rd, just north of BYPASS US 64. A lot of commercial development exists between BYPASS US 64 and NC 43/48. Finally, an interchange at NC 43/48.

- At the north end of Rocky Mount, a repaving project is underway on the SB US 301 lanes between NC 4 and the BUS/BYPASS US 301 split. Traffic was backed up for about a half mile at the south end.

- At NC 4 is a partial-directional interchange...NB traffic splits, with the left lanes following NC 4 (also signed "TO I-95") and the right lanes following US 301. Both routes use Richmond as a control city, although the US 301 sign also has in smaller print: "Via - Whitakers - Enfield - Halifax - Weldon".

- Stayed on US 301 through Emporia. Recently completed construction (shown on the '03 and '04 NC maps but not the '02) has NC 481 bypassing downtown Enfield, instead meeting US 301 south of Enfield, and following US 301 through eastern Enfield. Former NC 481 through downtown Enfield and west is signed as BUSINESS NC 481.

- Occasional "ALT ROUTE I-95" shields all along US 301.

- Further north, approaching Halifax, US 301 first picks up NC 125/903, then briefly picks up NC 561, for a short 4-way multiplex. No reassurance shields for the multiplexes going northbound, though I did see one southbound set of reassurance shields for the 4-way.

- US 301 somewhat bypasses Halifax, taking a 45 MPH "bypass" versus the old 35/25 MPH route through town. NC 125/903 turns left off of this bypass.

- Found it interesting that no BUSINESS US 301 exists in Weldon. The route US 301 takes is obviously new construction, but no BUSINESS/BYPASS split exists.  At the north end, just after picking up US 158, US 301 turns back onto itself before crossing the Roanoke River.

- In Garysburg, within the span of about a mile, US 158 turns to the east; a pair of overpasses, one for a road and one for a RR, cross over US 301; NC 46 begins going west; and NC 186 begins going east.

- A couple miles south of NC 48, the new US 301 overpass project over the CSX RR is largely complete. A new overpass was built about a hundred feet north of the old overpass. The new bridge was completed and opened before I last passed through a few months ago....since then, the old overpass has been taken out, as has all the old pavement.

- Took US 301 through Emporia...somewhat narrow and only 25 MPH, vice 35 MPH and 4-lanes on either end of town. Hopped on US 58 to head back to Hampton Roads.  The trip along US 58 was rather uneventful, though I did notice two things: the EB lanes have been recently repaved between the Blackwater River bridge near Franklin and SR 616 in SW Suffolk; and the 55/45 MPH zone change in Suffolk has been moved about a mile west from where it used to be (now it's west of SR 643).

- For a change of pace, I took I-664 North from US 58, then east on VA 164 to check out Pinners Point progress. At the West Norfolk interchange, I could see where traffic was briefly (for the 4 days or so) switched to the WB lanes, but is now back on the EB lanes...traffic striping has even been reverted back.  Could also see where traffic briefly used the future EB ramp to Cleveland St (striping still remained there), and the traffic lights on Cleveland St have been switched back off...all were dark...not even flashing yellow/red.

- A lot more girders up at Pinners Point than I remember in the past.  Construction is going well, though I have to wonder how the reversion to the old route at Port Norfolk until the connector ramps are completed will affect the project.

- After passing through the Midtown Tunnel, I took Princess Anne Rd and Northampton Blvd home. Too many traffic signals along Princess Anne Rd for my liking...

Back to the Roadtrip Report Archive
Back to Magnolia Meanderings

(C) 2007, Adam Froehlig