This report is from Day 7 of our 2005 Summer Vacation, on August 3, 2005.
The Froggie/LadyMegs 2005 Great Circle Tour, Day 7: four highways, four
presidents, and four storms.
- Started off on an overcast morning from Casper by heading east (sic "south") on I-25. The surrounding area empties out very quickly after leaving Casper.
- It was strange seeing Wall Drug billboards along I-25 between Casper and Douglas, but they were there.
- There's an I-25 BUSINESS LOOP in Glenrock.
- East of Glenrock, US 20/US 26/US 87 rejoins I-25 and stay with I-25 for over 30 miles to where US 20 splits off. The four highways appear to each have a business route that goes through Douglas.
- Exit 126 is where US 20 splits off of I-25 to continue east and is also the western terminus of US 18. There's a rest area in the southeast quadrant of the interchange.
- Headed east on US 18/20, where first we saw a shield for CR 1 (seems Converse County also has county routes) and then briefly took WY 319 south to get Platte County. There were two BNSF trains lined up on the tracks that parallel WY 319, while back on US 18/20 we passed a Union Pacific train heading the other direction.
- The sign for Lost Springs, WY on US 18/20 noted it having a population of 1. I didn't catch what the elevation was.....Wyoming puts both population and elevation on its town signs.
- There's a really old alignment of US 18/20 through Manville, while the current routing bypasses most of the town to the south.
- Lusk, WY is a small town of about 1,400 people (well, large by Wyoming standards), but has new concrete pavement on the main highways, a route triplex (US 18/20/85), two traffic signals, and a short 4-lane section on US 18/20, albeit through a residential area.
- US 18 continues north with US 85 out of Lusk, but we opted to stay with US 20 to the east.
- Just west of the Wyoming/Nebraska line, the Union Pacific tracks that had been paralleling US 20 since I-25 turn south, and a long-abandoned railroad grade continues along with US 20 instead.
- The Nebraska welcome sign says "Nebraska ...the good life"
- There were some odd rock formations through this northwestern corner of Nebraska...they looked almost like small castles or ramparts.
- Between Harrison and Fort Robinson, we stopped at a wayside that had some nice views looking down into the White River valley. We were both surprised at how hilly this part of Nebraska was. We were expecting it to be flat.
- After passing through Fort Robinson State Park, US 20 meets up with and has a brief multiplex with NE 2/NE 71 in Crawford. NE 2/71 is the through route at the southern junction, while US 20 is the through route at the northern junction.
- A little west of Chadron, NE is the western US 20/US 385 junction, which is kind of a modified Y-junction. It starts as a nominally-normal 4-way intersection, with US 20 as the through route on the east-west leg. But the northeast corner has been cut with a curved road for US 385. The north leg of the 4-way intersection is used for traffic between US 20 West and US 385 North.
- At Oelrichs, SD is the southern US 18/US 385 junction. US 385 briefly widens to 4 lanes at the junction, but only for about 1/2 mile.
- A few miles south of SD 79, US 18/385 crosses the Cheyenne River. Just west of the existing crossing is a very old and narrow through-truss bridge along the old alignment of US 18/385...now a county road.
- As with at the US 18/385 junction, US 18/385 briefly widens to 4 lanes approaching the junction with SD 79. However, US 18/385 turns at the junction, while SD 79 continues straight ahead. Also of note here is the overhead guide signage approaching from the south. On the right is a NORTH SD 79 sign that is missing an arrow, while on the left is an old green sign (presumably a US 18/US 385 sign with a left arrow) that has been partially replaced by a brown "MT RUSHMORE" sign with a left arrow under it...but not fully replaced. Part of the green background of the original sign is still there. But it's very clear that SDDOT wants Mt. Rushmore traffic to use US 18/385 and not SD 79.
- The widening projects on SD 79 have been completed down to just north of Buffalo Gap. SDDOT built a set of parallel lanes for southbound traffic and then repaved the existing lanes for northbound traffic, adding rumble strips in the process. Of note is the northbound lanes are asphalt, while the newer southbound lanes are in concrete.
- SD 79 becomes a 5-lane undivided section (all in concrete) between SD 36 and just north of the southern SD 40 junction.
- Took SD 40 west to get over to Mt. Rushmore. SD 40 is a bit of a twisty route, threading through and over several of the smaller valleys and hills in the Black Hills region enroute to Keystone. Older South Dakota maps also show this as a newer route: Keystone to Hayward in the mid-70s, and no Hayward to SD 79 stretch until the mid-80s.
- The weather started deteriorating on us while along SD 40, and off-and-on rain showers were happening by the time we got to Keystone.
- ALT US 16 through the Black Hills is signed in the field as US 16A.
- SD 244 begins off US 16A near Keystone, and is the road one takes up a long hill to get to Mt. Rushmore. There's a climbing lane on the climb up from Keystone, and the road looked to be somewhat-newish concrete.
- The Mt. Rushmore site was punctuated by A LOT of traffic. There's a one-way ring road providing the travelway into/out of the site, with a traffic signal at the intersection with SD 244. There were two large, multi-level parking ramps for parking (which cost a few dollars in the process). From what I saw, that much parking capacity was very needed.
- After taking several photos at Mt. Rushmore (and getting rained on in the process), we headed back out to SD 244 to US 16A and towards Rapid City. There were dozens of motorcycles parked at numerous commercial establishments in Keystone...no surprise since this was right before Sturgis weekend.
- US 16A is generally 4-lanes undivided from SD 244 north through Keystone, then becomes 3-lanes north of SD 40 due to a long upgrade heading up to US 16. There's a small tunnel bored out of the rock along this stretch of US 16A.
- The US 16/US 16A interchange is a modified 3-way stack interchange (modified in that the WB 16 to WB 16A ramp merges on the right instead of on the left as with a typical/symmetrical 3-way stack), and also marks the west end of the 4-lane segment on US 16 going into Rapid City. US 16 stayed 4 lanes divided (though generally with a narrow median, but occasionally a very wide median due to topography) until it descends down the hill into Rapid City proper along 8th St.
- The 8th St portion of US 16 through Rapid City was 5-lanes undivided with several poorly-timed traffic signals in downtown Rapid City. US 16 turns left for one block along SD 44/Omaha St (a 6-lane arterial for a few blocks in this area) before turning again onto I-190.
- I-190 starts with a 45 MPH speed limit, but becomes 55 MPH before too long. Just after crossing the Rapid Creek bridge (itself just north of the southern terminus at Omaha St) is Exit 1C, signed for North St and the Civic Center. Exits 1A and 1B are for I-90, with control cities of Gillette and Sioux Falls. The I-90/I-190 interchange is a trumpet with a WB 90 to SB 190 loop. There was no end signage for either I-190 or US 16 at the interchange.
- Headed east along I-90 from here. The Haines Ave interchange (Exit 58) was recently reconstructed into a SPUI, and appears to be the main retail location in Rapid City.
- There was a lot of construction on I-90 between Exit 59 and Exit 61, with all I-90 traffic in the eastbound lanes (still 2 lanes per direction), the westbound lanes all ripped apart, and Exit 60 also all ripped up except for the eastbound off-ramp.
- Contrary to some maps, there is no longer an Exit 66 along I-90. Instead, there's a new Exit 67...a 5-ramp par-clo with a loop in the southeast quadrant for EB I-90 to Ellsworth AFB traffic.
- Except for a brief dip up to get Meade County (spotting a "BEGIN PENNINGTON COUNTY ROAD" blue pentagon shield at the county line), we stayed on I-90 to just past Wall (avoiding the tourist trap), getting rained on again in the process.
- The I-90/US 14 interchange near Wall is a trumpet with a WB 14 to EB 90 loop. US 14 east of here is a rural 2-lane highway with shoulders, but not much else until Pierre.
- The US 14/US 83/SD 34 bridge across the Missouri River is a narrow 4-lane bridge...narrow in that it lacks shoulders and the lane widths themselves didn't seen like the normal 12-ft. It didn't help that it was raining on us again here and all the way through Pierre.
- US 14/US 83 was under reconstruction in downtown Pierre, from the Missouri River bridge to where US 14/83 turns off and SD 34 continues straight.
- North of Pierre, US 14/83 has a short 4-lane section, from SD 1804 to about a mile east of the US 14B junction.
- US 14 was mostly concrete from Pierre all the way to Huron. There were a few asphalt sections here and there, but it was predominantly concrete.
- Curiously, the one traffic signal in the town of Miller wasn't at either of the US 14/SD 45 junctions (the two routes have a short duplex in town), but instead was at a residential street intersection along the duplex, though it probably helped that it was a school crossing and also the way to the hospital.
- Our fourth rainstorm of the day started by the time we got to Miller and stuck with us most of the way to Huron.
- US 14 was the "turning route" (i.e. not the "through route") at both of its duplexes with SD 45 and US 281.
- US 14 widens to 4 lanes divided a couple miles west of Huron, near the state fairgrounds, and stays 4 lanes divided at least through the SD 37 intersection.
- SD 37, meanwhile was 5-lanes undivided through most of Huron.
That's it for the day...our hotel was on the south side of Huron.
Next up: a little town, a little fox, and a little cabin.
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(C) 2007, Adam Froehlig