This report is from Day 4 of my 2006 summer vacation, on August 13, 2006

Froggie's 2006 Summer Vacation Day 4: The Bell Dings on Round One

- Left Mt Pleasant on US 218 north on what was the last leg of the trip north.

- The freeway section of US 218 from IA 22 north to I-80/I-380 now has partially paved shoulders. IaDOT has gone in and asphalt-paved about 6 feet of the outside shoulder and about 2-3 feet of the inside shoulder on each side. The rest of the shoulders remains gravel, but that they went in and partially paved the shoulder is significant.

- Also along the same freeway section, I noticed newly installed cable guardrail in the median on some of the overpass approaches (as in overpasses crossing over US 218). Probably to reduce the chance of a vehicle hitting the bridge piers in the median.

- Northbound I-380 guide sign at US 30/US 151 is interesting in that the Exit 16A sign uses "normal" US shields (i.e. no black outline) while the Exit 16B sign uses the "Iowa standard", with the widened 3dus shield and the black outline.

- Took US 30/151 east...noting that it's an at-grade expressway even though several maps call it the "Lincoln Freeway". Noticed an exit number at the US 151 North/IA 13 interchange (which was a trumpet), though I had the sun right in my face so didn't catch the exit number itself.

- I know this has been asked before, but why on Earth are there 4-way STOP SIGNS on US 151/IA 13? Especially the one at IA 100, which I found odd since there's a traffic light less than a half mile north of there.

- Took IA 100 west into northrn Cedar Rapids. IA 100 was a mix of 5-lane undivided and 4-lane divided with some partial access control until about where BUSINESS US 151 crossed. From there west to I-380, it was a fairly heavy commercial street, then opens up into a freeway of sorts with the 3-level-diamond (or volleyball) interchange at I-380, then a half-diamond at the end at Edgewood Rd, where there are ghost ramps signifying a potential extension of IA 100 further west. Indeed, one of the maps I picked up shows a "Future Highway 100" extending southwest and then south, meeting US 30/151/218 at 80th St. That said, the map also stated "Projected Completion 2004-05", which given that it's now 2006 with no apparent work done means that obviously hasn't happened.

- Noted that, in addition to the rural Iowa Interstates going 70 MPH, the speed limit on I-380 through Cedar Rapids is now 60 MPH instead of 55.

- At least 3 "Next 3 Exit distance signs" on southbound I-380 in Cedar Rapids have a gap/missing line.

- Some of the 4-laning on US 30 west of Cedar Rapids to where US 218 splits off appears to be of somewhat recent vintage.

- US 218 turns onto iself on a partial bypass of Vinton, but still goes through the western part of the town.

- US 218 also turns onto itself in La Porte City, although this is in the middle of town and not on a "bypass".

- One-tenth milemarkers on US 218 in Waterloo begin about 1/2 mile south of I-380.

- Still no END I-380 shield/sign, although there is a Milepost 73.0 sign in the median just before the left turn lane for the Mitchell Ave intersection.

- What had some years ago been a 55 MPH speed limit on US 218 just north of IA 57/IA 58 is now a 65 MPH speed limit. The annoying 55 MPH limit still exists at Janesville, however.

- Somewhat of a change from my last time through...US 18 now joins US 218 at the southern Charles City interchange, instead of at the IA 14 interchange as it did previously. When did this change happen and what is US 18's routing through Charles City now?

- Hopped on the first of what would be several gravel road trips as I angled up from Charles City towards Rochester.

- In Rochester, MN, I noted that the 40th St SW interchange on US 63 is now open to traffic. The traffic light at 36th St SW remains, and will probably remain until frontage road connections are built. The 48th St SW interchange (which is also signed as CSAH 20) opened last year.

- Channelization of the ramps from northbound US 63 to US 52 is under construction. Channelization of the ramps from US 52 to US 63 was done as part of the US 52 reconstruction project.

- Speaking of the US 52 reconstruction, it is now finished and it is *NICE*. 6 lanes from US 63 all the way to CSAH 14/75th St NW, plus an occasional auxiliary lane...much improved interchanges (including a SPUI at 19th St NW), and a 60 MPH speed limit from Mayowood Rd to 55th St NW, with 65 MPH otherwise. One other big note about this project is it represents MnDOT's first use of exit numbers on a non-Interstate freeway, ranging from Exit 51 (US 63) to Exit 61 (CSAH 14).

- Just north of 85th St NW, where the Rochester project ended, the Oronoco project begins and is now under construction. This project will extend the freeway section on US 52 north about 5 miles through Oronoco, and will include an interchange at CSAH 12 West/CR 112, and an overpass at existing CSAH 12 East. The interchange ramps and bridge appear to be mostly completed. Still a lot of work left in Oronoco with the new bridges over Shady Lake and the realignment.

- It started raining on me at this point, but I did note that with the completion of interchanges at 117th St in Rosemont and at Dakota CSAH 46 near Coates (plus an overpass at Dakota CSAH 47 near Hampton), there are now only two traffic signals on US 52 between Rochester and St Paul, both of them in Cannon Falls.

- In Inver Grove Heights, Dakota CSAH 28 has been extended east from MN 149 to MN 55 at Argenta Trl. Of note at the intersection was the rare use of a 5-lens doghouse-style traffic signal. These are VERY RARELY used in Minnesota, and in my experience only exclusively at "temporary" traffic signal locations (ie. wire-hung).

- On westbound MN 55 right at the MN 5 interchange (just after crossing the Mendota Bridge), there's been some change in the overhead signage. Used to be that the left lane was signed for MN 55 and the right lane signed for Fort Snelling. Well, now the left lane is signed for MN 62 and the right lane is signed for MN 55 and "Bloomington Rd" (the road at the Fort Snelling interchange). This is likely related to the completion of the MN 55/MN 62 interchange.

- Along MN 55/Hiawatha Ave in south Minneapolis, related to the Hiwatha LRT line being parallel to MN 55, all of the cross-street intersections have been converted over to split-phase. In addition, all left-turns from MN 55/Hiawtha Ave are protected-only, whereas before the LRT line they were protected-permitted.

- After passing the Cedar Ave interchange, there is no indication that MN 55 West continues along I-94 West.

- Finally got to my dad's place, where I stayed during my time home in Minneapolis.

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