This is part one of an extended weekend roadtrip in the middle of August, 2004.
Took advantage of a 4-day weekend opportunity to head north to spend some
time with the "other half", as well as attend the recent Rochester meet. 3 of
the 5 trip reports will be in this post, the other two in a seperate post.
Trip 1 (8/4): VA to NY
- Did not leave Norfolk until after 5pm and was in a hurry to get north, so I took my usual route: CBBT/US 13/US 113/DE 1/US 13/I-495/I-95/I-476/I-81.
- Was somewhat surprised to see traffic as light as it was at CBBT, given that it was during evening rush hour. Was expecting more commuter traffic going to the Eastern Shore, even in light of the recent toll increase.
- While on CBBT, noticed a couple of CBBT maintenance trucks parked in the median...in the areas where there IS a median between the dual bridge split/merge and the tunnel...both at Thimble Shoals and Chesapeake Bay Channels. Also noticed that the caution signals were flashing yellow near the tunnels, while they were green otherwise. Just north of the Chesapeake tunnel, I saw the reason why: an overwidth truck heading southbound, with police escort. Makes sense in that the maintenance trucks stop northbound traffic from entering the tunnels while the overwidth truck travels through.
- Things stayed uneventful through Dover, where I ran into a squall line from the front that came through the Northeast and mid-Atlantic late last week. Got pounded and buffeted pretty good on DE 1 for about 10 minutes before I punched through the core and into where it was predominantly rain without wind behind the line. Was about half-on/half-off rain from there almost up to Syracuse.
- In the interests of time and not wanting to deal with the HEAVY late-night truck traffic on I-81, I opted to stay on I-476 around Scranton. Even with the now-$1 toll without EZPass, I might make this the "normal" part of my trip. There are the two toll booths to contend with, but it's 65 MPH vice I-81's 55 MPH, and is 3 miles shorter than using I-81...and has *A LOT* less traffic than I-81.
- Noted that NYSDOT has a mill-and-overlay project on 20 miles of I-81, through most of Cortland County.
- Only one cop spotted in NY: an Onondaga County Sherriff on I-81, just before I exited at Exit 24. He was hammer down in the left lane. Got into Liverpool around 2am.
Trip 2 (8/5): NY to VT
Meaghan and I took advantage of a couple days off and excellent weather to do an overnight trip over to Vermont, where I got to see a bit of the state, downtown Burlington, and some of Montpelier, where one of Meaghan's friends from college lives and works.
- After some stops in northern Syracuse, we headed north on I-81 up to Watertown. NYSDOT is doing another I-81 mill-and-overlay (besides the above-mentioned Cortland County), this time from just south of NY 49 to a few miles north.
- Just south of Exit 38, noticed a simple sign...black lettering on yellow background:
This being in an area where I-81 has a wider, wooded median.
- Took I-81 up to Exit 45, where we exited onto NY 3 and into Watertown. The 1 mile advance BGS for Exit 45 has the control cities (Arsenal St and Sackets Harbor) in all caps.
- NY 3 through western Watertown looks like it's been recently repaved.
- Within downtown Watertown, NY 3 briefly splits, with a lot of confusing turns off of the roadway....almost like an elongated traffic circle. A terraserver image:
- Took NY 3 east out of Watertown, where Meaghan showed me where the Watertown bureau for News 10 Now is located (actually, co-located with the area Time Warner Cable building).
- A fair amount of traffic on NY 3 between Watertown and Carthage, some associated with nearby Fort Drum. Many intersections had left turn lanes, and a few had traffic signals. A good chunk of NY 3 through here had a 45 MPH speed limit.
- Rather than go through Carthage, we took NY 3A around Carthage to the north...a much straighter shot. NY 3A is co-signed with Jefferson CR 36 the entire length.
- We took NY 3 through the Adirondacks, where I noticed almost all of what would normally be green signs are instead gold lettering on maroon background within Adirondack Park. NY 3 is a fairly well-engineered road between Carthage and Saranac Lake, except for a stretch east of NY 56 which is rather curvy and narrow. Ran into two active work zones: NY 56 to a few miles east, and most of the way between NY 30 North and the south edge of Saranac Lake. Both zones involved repaving and culvert work.
- Meaghan mentioned a recent N10N story (mid-July) where the town surrounding Tupper Lake, the now-former town of Altamont, recently changed its name, due to a naming conflict and confusion with the Village of Altamont (near Albany). It is now known as the Town of Tupper Lake (as it surrounds the Village of Tupper Lake), but as of Thursday neither the townline signs on NY 3, nor the water tower nor town vehicles have had the name changed....they all still said Town of Altamont.
- The Village of Saranac Lake is signed as an "All America City".
- Continued on NY 3 northeast out of Saranac Lake. A bit narrow with older pavement. There's a project near Saranac Lake to extend a sewer line along the corridor, which has some of the roadway tore up. Also noticed a few erroneous "US 3" shields between Saranac Lake and St. Armand...mostly northbound.
- In northeastern Franklin County, a few county routes were signed using square, white-on-green shields. One of these was at what used to be NY 99, which was decommissioned in 1994 (according to Mark Sinsabaugh), but is still listed on recent maps.
- Near Cadyville, there is a seamless transition between NY 3 to the west and the ramps to/from NY 374 to the east, as is seen in this Terraserver image:
- NY 374 is a super-2 expressway between NY 3 and just west of NY 22, where the roadway widens to 4 lanes divided, though NY 374 itself ends at NY 22. The roadway continues on as NY 22 south, through a cloverleaf with I-81, and NY 22 then splits onto a pair of one-way streets through northern Plattsburgh.
- We cut over to US 9 to locate lunch, and headed back to I-87 via NY 314. Most of the signage along I-87 through here was bilingual (English/French).
- Another repaving construction zone (one of many we'd run into on this trip), this time on I-87 near Exit 40 (NY 456).
- Exited I-87 at Exit 42 (rather than go all the way up to Customs), and took US 11 east to Rouses Point. US 11 around Champlain looked to be recently repaved, if not recent vintage outright. Further east, the east-west part of US 11 through Rouses Point is closed and COMPLETELY ripped up for reconstruction, though we managed to finagle our way through on the single gravel lane provided for local resident access. Truck traffic is detoured via NY 276, while non-truck traffic is detoured via local Rouses Point streets.
- More construction at the US 11/US 2 junction has US 11 traffic detouring through a gravel commercial parking lot in the SE corner of the intersection.
- Crossed over into Vermont and took US 2 to VT 78, which we then took to I-89. Almost a 20 cent difference in gas prices between Rouses Point, NY and Alburg, VT.
- The old VT 78 drawbridge over Missisquoi Bay (part of Lake Champlain) near East Alburg is being replaced by a newer bridge being built just to the south of the existing bridge. An interesting part of this project is some of the construction signs. Rather than use a "Work Zone Reduced Speed Ahead" sign or something similar, VTrans is using warning signs that have a Speed Limit sign (i.e. SL 40, SL 30, etc) with an up arrow above it, all within a standard orange diamond Construction Warning sign. Very interesting, and a good idea to use elsewhere.
- Took VT 78 through Swanton and then south on I-89, which had better pavement and heavier traffic than what I was expecting. We took I-89 to Exit 14W, where to took US 2/Main St into downtown Burlington and walked around a bit. There was a jughandle westbound at Spear St.
- Burlington, besides looking and feeling the part of a college/hippie town, has a north-south street (Church St) downtown that is closed to vehicle traffic and has a lot of shops and stores along it, including one of the two malls in the Burlington area.
- Passed through Winooski heading back to I-89 south and on to Montpelier. Some very neat scenery through here. Also a lot of subdivisions north of I-89 and east of VT 2A. Also ran into about a 15 mile mill-and-overlay project on I-89 from west of VT 100 to Exit 8. From what I've heard about this stretch, it needs it.
- Spent the night in Montpelier, where Meaghan's friend lives on VT 12 just south of US 2. Noticed while tooling around town that evening that there's a BUSINESS US 2 through the heart of Montpelier. Also noticed a roundabout on VT 12 just north of downtown.
Trip 3 (8/6): VT back to NY
- Back out to Memorial Dr, and on to I-89 south. Traffic is noticeably thinner on I-89 south of Montpelier than it is between Montpelier and Burlington. Very scenic along I-89 south of Montpelier.
- First goal of the day, as it turns out, was briefly dipping into New Hampshire...my first time in the state. Went in and out via I-89 and turned around at the NH 12A interchange. Enroute, noticed that there is a flyover from SB I-89 to NB I-91, and that the I-91 interchange does not have exit numbers.
- Back into Vermont, and onto US 4 west, where Meaghan stopped to show me the Quechee Gorge. Interesting area, with the US 4 bridge over the gorge having been built in 1911.
- Took US 4 west across Vermont, where I got to see a lot of the idiosyncrasies (sp?) of Vermont towns, not to mention the relatively slow going along US 4. While I have my doubts that "I-92" would have been viable, it would've been nice to have spot improvements and an occasional passing lane east of Killington.
- A bypass of Rutland would have been nice too. Traffic on US 4/7 through Rutland (mostly 4-5 lane undivided) is thick, and I heard about a lot of the fatal accidents that have occurred along the stretch.
- After stopping for lunch in Rutland, we continued west on US 4. The southern US 4/7 junction is very much at-grade and doesn't appear to have been built to accommodate an eastward extension, at least as a freeway. Also, about 1/4 mile west of US 7, US 4 crosses a railroad at-grade. One interesting part of this crossing is the traffic signals on the railroad signal mast. Just across the tracks is where the 65 MPH zone begins.
- The freeway segment between Rutland and the state line was nice, and a pleasant change from the slow-going we'd previously ran into. At the end, I missed seeing the graded ramps for what would have been Exit 1. Saw that the west end of the freeway is at an at-grade, with a jughandle going westbound. Interestingly, that jughandle is signed as "Exit 1", for the Welcome Center and a Weigh Station.
- US 4 *REALLY* needs to be improved between the VT line and NY 149, and then along NY 149 between US 4 and I-87. Too much traffic and too many trucks for a 2-lane road. The improvement doesn't have to be a freeway (though that'd been nice)...a 4-lane divided highway would've done the job.
- As if that traffic wasn't bad enough, US 9 south was jammed up at French Mountain...not sure if it was due to Great Escape/Splashwater Kingdom traffic or something else. We got around it by taking US 9 north a couple miles to NY 9N and then backtracking on I-87 south.
- Noticed that I-87 is 6 lanes (3 each way) through here, at least to north of Exit 21 (NY 9N). Was useful given that traffic was heavy and fast. Stayed on I-87 south to Exit 15, where we exited onto NY 50 and on through Saratoga Springs to NY 29.
- The remainder of our route home was NY 29/NY 30A/I-90, with a side trip up NY 30 to Hamilton County and back. Was raining most of the way around Great Sacandaga Lake. Back down on the Thruway, NYSTA had closed down a westbound lane on a bridge between Exit 28 and Exit 29 for some day-work. The resultant jam was about 3 miles long and took 20 minutes to clear through. Relatively smooth-sailing the rest of the way home after that.
Coming up: Rochester meet and heading back to Norfolk.
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(C) 2007, Adam Froehlig