This report is from Day 2 of a 2-day trip to the 2004 "Raleigh Roadgeek Meet" at the end of May, 2004.

VA-NC-VA 2-day roadtrip (Day 2, long)

Here's the return trip back to Virginia Beach:

Day 2 (Saturday): Raleigh to Virginia Beach, via Durham and Danville:

- Left out of north Raleigh by taking US 401 south, then along the US 1/401 duplex to the "Outer Inner" (inside joke). I've only partially experienced a Raleigh morning rush hour, but I'd imagine that the 1/401 merge, with 6 lanes merging into 4, causes some problems.

- Construction on SB Capital (US 1/401) at and just north of I-440. Currently, the right lane on SB 1/401 ends at the intersection just north of I-440, becoming a right-turn-only lane at that intersection, with only 3 lanes continuing to I-440.. The construction appears to be extending that rightmost lane to the SB-to-Outer ramp, as well as widening the ramp to 2 lanes down to the merge with Outer I-440.

- I've been on the 440 Beltline a bit before, but I still find the heavy use of auxiliary lanes between interchanges along it fascinating and something I'd like to see duplicated elsewhere (including and in particular Norfolk and Virginia Beach).

- Took Outer 440 around to Wade Ave and then west. Noted some sort of bridge construction on the north end of the 440/Wade interchange. It'll definitely be an overpass, complete with "historic-looking arches", but couldn't tell whether it'd be for a bike/ped path or a secondary road/street. Further west, found Error #3 with the 2004 NC map: the Triangle inset doesn't show the interchange with Blue Ridge Rd on the Wade Ave freeway.

- 2 lanes of Wade Ave combine with 2 lanes of WB I-40 to form 4 lanes (imagine that) that NOW runs out to NC 147. My last time on I-40, the widening between NC 147 and I-540 was still underway. Noted construction for the southward extension of I-540.

- Still the old diagrammatic signs at NC 147...these will need to be replaced when the widening on I-40 west of NC 147 is complete. Speaking of the widening, it still looks to me like there's a ways to go (at least 3-5 months of work) on the WB lanes...couldn't easily see the EB lanes.

- That said, the widening is completed from just east of NC 54 (Exit 273AB) out to US 15/501 (Exit 270). EB was limted to 2 lanes, but WB was open to 3 lanes.  Could see as I was exiting off at US 15/501 that the 3rd WB lane continues through the US 15/501 interchange, then ends just west of it.

- While driving through the 3-4-or-so stoplights between I-40 and the start of the BYPASS 15/501 freeway, I was thinking of how feasible it would be to upgrade that portion to freeway. Concluded that it's possible using tight urban/diamond interchanges, but would take out some business parking lots. Since it's fully within Durham County, the "Chapel Hill factor" need not apply.

- The start of the BYPASS 15/501 freeway is an interesting conglomerate of ramps and even a C/D road. Best explained with a new 2002 "Urban Area" color view from Terraserver:

- BYPASS 15/501 is definitely an older freeway. Outside of the south end and through the NC 147 interchange, it was very substandard, with no shoulders on bridges, no left shoulder, and not even a paved right shoulder at one point.  Things got a little better with the NC 147 interchange (including C/D roads), and I'm guessing the I-85 Durham construction will take care of the north end.

- Took I-85 east (sic north) back through Durham to view the major changes since my last time, but this was my first time in over a year driving it northbound. Due to bad sun angle, though, I wasn't able to get photos. Exited I-85 at BUSINESS 501, and took that south along Mangum St into downtown. BUSINESS 501 splits into a pair of one-way streets a few blocks south of I-85...was somewhat surprised to see the speed limit set at 35 MPH.  Didn't expect it to be that high, going through a residential area and with all the small hills along the street.

- At first, I thought the Hamfest was at "The Armory" downtown...later I discovered it was at the National Guard Armory in north Durham, off Duke St/BYPASS 501. While tooling around downtown Durham, I saw several old railroad lines, an interesting downtown loop circulator, and a lot of reuse of old industrial/commercial buildings.

- Took Duke St back north out of downtown...which is also part of a 1-way pair between downtown and just south of I-85. Duke St picks up BYPASS 501 at I-85, and is largely a 5-lane boulevard with a center left turn lane through north Durham. Becomes 4-lane divided up near BUSINESS 501.

- After missing the test by 3 points (will be retaking next week enroute to the Raleigh meet), I decided to head to Danville to check out the new US 58 bypass there. Took US 501 north out of Durham to Roxboro. In northern Durham County, there's one location where the median opens slightly and a single, large oak tree sits in the middle of the median. Kinda neat that the widening accommodated that.

- US 501 degenerates into a commercial mess through Roxboro. The old US 501/158/NC 49/57 intersection apparently has been changed, as US 158/NC 49/57 traffic now turns left a block sooner, then turns onto itself back onto the old route heading west. A aerial view of the earlier configuration:

- Took US 158 west to Yanceyville. US 158 is rather curvy and hilly through here, but had very little traffic. Saw a few No Passing Zone signs along here (didn't know that NCDOT had used them before). A bridge replacement and partial straightening project is underway at Hyco Creek, a little east of NC 119. The duplex with NC 86 is much straighter and wider lanes, completed with about 4ft of paved shoulder.

- On the east end of Yanceyville, some sort of construction is going on at US 158/NC 86/NC 62, though I couldn't immediately tell what was going on. Both the US 158 "Yanceyville bypass" and NC 86 north of Yanceyville towards the state line appear to have had some partial shoulder paving done recently. US 158/NC 86 from North Ave in Yanceyville to the 158/86 split has been fully repaved, and now comprises of a 3-lane section (center left turn lane). Took NC 86 up to Danville.

- In my travels in and around Danville, I noticed that US 58 is more or less fully signed with US 29 along their new duplex. Reassurance and trailblazer shields have been added, and BGS have been updated at the US 29/58/360 interchange. The old US 58 route through the city has been partially resigned.  BGS at the BUSINESS 29/BUSINESS 58 interchange have been updated, and reassurance shields have been updated by tacking a BUSINESS banner above the directional banner, but trailblazer shields have not been updated (yet) in this fashion.

- Error #1 with the new 2004-06 VA map: US 58 is being shown as an arterial under construction, rather than a freeway under construction (or completed).

- Regarding the US 29/Holland Rd/Elizabeth St "discussion" from some months back, it seems based on the turn angles, the presence of "Watch for Turning Vehicles" signs, and even a street sign, that VDOT considers this a right-in/right-out intersection. EB/NB could be considered "buttonhook" ramps, but WB/SB is definately an intersection. There's also evidence that there was a median opening here at one point.

- Took photos of the US 29/58/BUSINESS 29 interchange from 3 directions: WB 29/58, NB 29, and EB 58. Did not get SB BUS 29 due to sun angle. The state line crosses through about the southern 1/3rd of the interchange, and is marked on both the mainline and even on the two south loops where they cross the state line (twice in the case of the EB-NB loop).

- Overall impressed with the US 58 freeway portion. Full paved shoulders and good curves and slopes. The north end appears to be built to accommodate a northern or western extension of the freeway. Downsides are 55 MPH speed limit (it, and the rest of the Danville Expressway, should be 65...but it'll take the General Assembly getting off their arses to change it), not using concrete pavement for the travel lanes (a downside IMO), and the lack of signage at the western interchanges. There is one interchange, at SR 1260/Oak Ridge Farms Rd that has no signage at all from US 58 except for a ramp speed sign and the exit sign at the gore. The west end is well signed along the freeway, but heading on EB US 58 towards the new bypass, the only indication of the bypass is a BGS at the exit to the bypass itself (I took US 58 west about a mile, then backtracked to double-check).

- Once I was done checking out the US 58 freeway, I took BUS US 29 and then VA 293 into town, so I could get pictures of the VA 86 "pseudo freeway". VA 86 is a 40 MPH arterial through southern Danville, but there's a segment that could be considered limited access (Eric Smith take note). From south to north:

- The overpass over the NS tracks (just east of which, based on old photos, is where VA 86 used to travel north along its old route, along old S. Main St)
- A signalized intersection at Watson St
- An at-grade at the entrance to Danville Regional Medical Center
- A folded-diamond interchange at VA 293/W. Main St
- A signalized intersection at Broad St
- A tight cloverleaf at BUS US 29/VA 413/Memorial Dr (VA 413 isn't on the BGS....trailblazers only...also, one BGS features "Exit 1/5 Mile")
- The bridge over the Dan River
- Another tight cloverleaf at now-BUSINESS US 58 (as mentioned above, signed on the BGS, but not on the trailblazers), that IIRC is missing the WB-to-NB ramp
- Last interchange, a trumpet interchange at Piedmont Dr.
- Technically, the "limited-access" extends a little further north:  there's a right-in/right-out on the southbound side at Coleman St, then there's an at-grade at Boxwood Ct. North of there, there's driveways. Also at this point, there's an "END NORTH VA 86" shield. Based on that and looking at Terraserver images, I believe VA 86 ends just north of Boxwood Ct, where BUSINESS US 29 becomes Piney Forest Rd, and where old Piney Forest Rd joins.

- Did another small loop around Danville (including the Park Ave bridge over the Dan River) before heading east on BUSINESS 58. BUS 58 is down to 1 lane each way at the intersection with N Main St/VA 293. This is due to an old bridge being rehabilitated that will eventually carry NB VA 293 across the Dan River.  A newer bridge, currently carrying both directions, will take SB VA 293 across the river.

- Hopped on US 29 north of US 58 to check out the dualization progress. Paving is underway, and there are a couple locations with sound walls installed. Looks offhand like the new interchange with VA 360 (replacing an existing access ramp) will be opened before the 4-laning overall is opened.

- Double-backed along BUSINESS 29, then took VA 293 to VA 360, and eventually took VA 360 to its end at US 360 northeast of South Boston, just for a change of pace but also to "clinch" the old route (VA 360 used to be US 360 long ago).  Lots of curves and very limited passing opportunity on VA 360, especially in Pittsylvania County.

- In Halifax, the county courthouse is surrounded on one side each by VA 360 and US 501 (the 360/501 intersection is in the northeast corner), and on the other two sides by the obscure VA 349. The only indication in the field that VA 349 exists is a single reassurance shield on either end.

- Detoured off of US 360 to take VA 92 through Clover, where I found Error #2 with the VA map: VA 92 is not 4-laned between US 360 and Clover. It's 2 lanes, though I think I know why this is: VA 92 used to be US 360...there's evidence that US 360 was 4-laned west of Clover before the new alignment across the Roanoke River was built, and this 4-laning tapered down to the current VA 92 on the west edge of Clover. This is supported by Terraserver imagery:

- Clover is a very dead town. Almost every commercial building along VA 92 was either boarded up, or closed and empty. Out and away from that, VA 92 crosses the Roanoke River on an old (and rusting) steel-overhead-truss bridge. Headed back east on US 360 after this point.

- The US 15/360 bypass of Keysville is part-expressway/part-freeway. On the south end is an at-grade at SR 622 and the south end of BUSINESS 15/360, then about a half-mile up another at-grade (couldn't tell which road) but no intervening driveways/access, then a bridge over the railroad and BUSINESS 15/360, with a partial interchange at BUSINESS 15/360...partial in that there is no SB on-ramp, and the NB off-ramp is a VERY tight 15 MPH loop. The VA map shows the south end as non-limited-access arterial, and an underpass instead of a partial interchange (combined Error #3). The bypass is freeway from this point north, with a diamond interchange at VA 40, and an interesting 5-ramp par-clo at US 15 north/BUSINESS 360, complete with evidence that 360 was 4-laned before the bypass was built...see for yourself:

- I took VA 40 east from Keysville,via Lunenburg and Victoria (where a "TRUCK ROUTE VA 40/VA 49" exists, to photograph the end of VA 137/138 at VA 40 in Kenbridge. Stayed on VA 40, catching the VA 46 end south of Blackstone, and proceeded through Blackstone, where I saw erroneous BUSINESS *VA* 460 shields (that should have been U.S. shields), a short VA 40/BUSINESS 460 duplex, and an old, as-yet-unreplaced US 460 East shield.

- East of Blackstone beheld Error #4: the US 460/BUSINESS 460 junction east of Blackstone is an at-grade intersection, rather than the interchange depicted on the map. Took US 460 east from here for a ways (but not all the way to Petersburg), grabbing VA 153's south end in the process. Further east was Error #5 (Eric Smith take note): US 460 is *NOT* limited access between Wilsons and Ford...there are numerous private driveways on both sides of the highway through here.

- Later on was Error #6: the segment of US 460 from about 1.5 miles east of Ford to about 2 miles west of Sutherland *IS* limited-access. In more detail, the west end of this segment is the SR 624/SR 751 junction (SR 751 is old US 460), and the east end is the SR 628/SR 751 junction. On this particular trip, I bailed SR 611...but from past trips, plus supported by Terraserver images, this segment has no private driveways/access. This segment coincides with a relocated segment of US mentioned earlier, old US 460 is now SR 751.

- I left US 460 early in order to cut a way down to VA 35 to photograph that end. In the process, I travelled through Dinwiddle, saw a 5-ramp par-clo at I-85/SR 703 (favoring traffic between Dinwiddle and Petersburg), saw a brief 4-lane segment of US 301 at Carson, and saw US 301 paralleling I-95 less than 20 feet from the SB I-95 lanes.

- The north end of VA 35 is in an odd place. It doesn't end at US 301 (unlike VA 156 just to the northeast), nor does it end at I-95. Instead, it continues about 2/3 mile to the northwest, and ends at the intersection of SR 605 and SR 622. To my surprise, there's an END shield posted, a rarity in Virginia.

- Cut back across secondary roads through southeastern Prince George and northwestern Sussex Counties to get to US 460 and head back home. Presumably to help facilitate local and emergency travel, there are a few overpasses over the Norfolk Southern line that parallels US 460 between Petersburg and Suffolk. SR 602 in northwestern Sussex County has one of these overpasses.

- Not much else to report...the rest of the way home was US 460E to US 58E to I-664S (briefly) to I-264E (through a 5-minute delay at the Downtown Tunnel) to I-64W to US 13N and home.

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