This report is from Day 4 of my 2004 summer vacation, on June 19, 2006.

Froggie's 2004 Summer Vacation Day Day 4 (IL-MN)

Day 4: New States, a Surprise, and an Old River (IL-MN)

Initial goal for the day was to find a Toyota dealership and figure out why my check engine light was on, with the final goal of making it home to my parent's place in Burnsville, MN before the day was over.

- I knew of a bunch of car dealerships along IL 132 west of the Tri-State, so we headed up that way, via IL 137, US 41 (passing through the large interchange at IL 120/IL 43), and IL 132 (a "leftside SPUI", with all the ramps to/from US 41 in the median).

- Gurnee Mills looks a little more lively than I remember it from 10 years ago (a mall kitty-corner from Six Flags Great America at I-94/IL 132).

- Saw a bunch of car dealerships along IL 132, but didn't see a Toyota dealership. Stopped at a gas station at US 45/IL 132 to figure out where one was and get directions. Lo and behold, when I started the car back up, there was no more Check Engine light. Not sure why it came on to begin with, but I'm guessing perhaps a bad batch of gasoline.

- Since there was no more worry about the engine, we headed north to Wisconsin, taking US 45 there. US 45 is still a 2-lane road for the most part, though it has turn lanes at major intersections, and briefly widens to 4 lanes at the intersection with WI 50. We headed west on WI 50 at this point.

- Last time I was on WI 50, there was still construction to 4-lane it near and east of Lake Geneva. That has since been completed, and the route is 4-lanes all the way into Lake Geneva. We turned off and took US 12 West, though.

- Noticed that the US 12 freeway here has exit numbers. The interchange with I-43 and CTH NN has C/D roads on both sides of US 12. Saw the end of the freeway at WI 67, with no indications of westward extension (though it's sorely needed). Traffic was heavy enough on US 12 northwest of here that I bailed and took CTH A west to US 14 and Janesville.

- Got on I-90 from US 14 and took it up to the Madison Beltline (US 12/18).  Noticed a couple locations where bridges were being widened to accommodate a future 6-lane section on I-90. Otherwise, not a whole lot going on except for moderate weekday traffic. Took the Madison Beltline west to Verona Rd, taking photos along the way. Saw the ramp meters that were added to a few ramps on the Beltline. Is the railroad that crosses the Beltline west of Todd Dr still active?

- Exited at Verona Rd (US 18/151) and took that west. Although I didn't have a problem going through, I could see where this area would have issues during peak hours. Was nice to see US 18/151 go to 65 MPH at the start of the Verona bypass. Noted some sort of construction on the west end of the bypass, as well...some sort of overpass being built.

- US 18/151 is a mix of expressway and short freeway segments out to Dodgeville.  At Dodgeville we stayed on US 18 West, which fairly quickly dropped to 40 MPH, and on the west end of town dropped to 2 lanes, though it was a fairly good 2-lane road past that point.

- Duplexes with WI 80, US 61, WI 133, WI 35, and WI 60 enroute to Prairie du Chien. Along the duplex with WI 80, there was a section with wind generators along the south side of the road.

- A short 4-lane segment has been built where WI 60 joins, just north of the Wisconsin River bridge. Not long enough, IMO.

- US 18 widens to a 4 to 5-lane undivided section through Prairie du Chien. WI 27 terminates at the same intersection that US 18/WI 60 turns left and heads towards the river, while WI 35 continues straight. We stayed on WI 35.

- Looks like a recent repaving job on WI 35 from the northern fringes of Prairie du Chien up to around Lynxville.  An odd sort of asphalt...was very sparkly compared with normal asphalt.

- The river was sitting very high, and there was a lot of standing water along WI 35...some of the lower-lying roads were flooded out.

- Turned left onto WI 82, and took the very interesting, very old, narrow, steel-grate-deck, steel-overhead-truss bridge across the river into Lansing, IA.

- IA 9 makes two turns in Lansing, first right at the IA end of the river bridge, second a few blocks south.

- Stopped for lunch in Lansing, then headed north on IA 26. About 1/4 mile north of IA 9, there's some bridge work that has IA 26 down to a single lane, controlled by a traffic signal.

- Stopped at the state line so we could take pictures of each other at the Minnesota welcome sign, which sits at a wayside right at the line.

- Took MN 26 up, which seems to get slowly wider and wider as one gets further north. The segment between CSAH 7 and MN 16 even has shoulders.

- Last time I was in this area, MN 16 was closed for reconstruction between MN 26 and Hokah, with MN 26 and CSAH 7 being used as the detour. MN 16 has since reopened. While MnDOT would ultimately like a 4-lane section along here, they rebuilt it as an improved 2-lane highway with turn lanes.

- Took MN 16, which becomes 4 lanes at the south end of La Crescent, then headed east along US 14/US 61/MN 16 into La Crosse. My first time within the city (excluding I-90) since 1989. Work is underway to build a parallel bridge span between Barton Island (on the Wisconsin side of the border) and downtown.  Seemingly associated work is reconstructing a few of the downtown streets in the vicinity.

- Turned onto US 53 and headed north back to I-90. Still find the I-90/US 53/WI 35 interchange interesting...a mix between directional, cloverleaf, and standard diamond. Control cities for I-90 are Madison and, curiously, Minnesota.

- Took I-90 back into Minnesota, and actually all the way out to US 52. There are only 4 locations I know of in Minnesota where Interstate guide signage only lists the town name and not a street/road name or county/state route. Two of those are on I-90 hugging the Mississippi River: Dresbach (Exit 272AB) and Dakota (Exit 270).

- Took US 52 north through Rochester, stopping to visit a friend of mine. MnDOT is in the middle of a project to reconstruct and widen US 52 between US 63 and 85th St NW (1 mile north of CSAH 14) The old substandard freeway is being reconstructed to modern standards, with a 6-lane section being added between US 63 and CSAH 14, and the freeway section is actually being extended about 2.5 miles further north (from 65th St NW to about 90th St NW), with overpasses at 65th and 85th, and a new interchange at CSAH 14/75th. Except at the US 63 interchange, 2 lanes are being maintained in each direction, with traffic switching back and forth between alignments.  Interestingly, at the new interchange at CSAH 14/75th, northbound traffic was using the future NB ramps (no access to CSAH 14 right now), while southbound traffic was using the future NB mainline lanes. The goal is to have the CSAH 14 interchange completed by the end of this year, with the entire project completed either in late 2006 or early 2007.

- While the current project ends at 85th St NW, an upcoming bonding project (to be let next year) will extend the freeway section up through Oronoco.

- Noticed that a lot of county road crossings along US 52 in northern Olmsted and Goodhue Counties have had small guide signage installed, replacing the old trailblazers.

- No indications yet of upcoming construction to build an overpass at Dakota CSAH 47, just north of Hampton. By contrast, construction is well-underway for a new interchange at Dakota CSAH 46, just south of Coates. Traffic is using a temporary signalized intersection just north of the future interchange.

- We turned left here and followed CSAH 46 west. CSAH 46 is a new route from east of US 52 to about MN 3, and is an upgraded route west of there. From US 52 to just east of MN 3, it's an improved 2-lane road with a 55 MPH speed limit.  What used to be a 4-way stop at MN 3 (when CSAH 46 was first completed) is now a signalized intersection. Starting just east of MN 3, CSAH 46 becomes a 4-lane divided route, and stays that way until its end at CSAH 5 (a little west of I-35). Noticed that Dakota County has upped the speed limit to 55 MPH for an extra couple miles now. Stays 55 MPH (vice the old 50 MPH) until just west of Pilot Knob Rd/CSAH 31.

- Not much else at this point. Took local roads up to my parents place in Burnsville. Saw the cheapest gas during vacation along CSAH 46 and a few Holiday stations.

Coming tomorrow (or Tuesday): roadtrip repots from the week-and-a-half in Minnesota.

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