This report is from a trip to southern Alabama on October 30, 2006.

Alabama daytrip and notes

Took advantage of *VERY* nice autumn weather yesterday (but, alas, not of a later hour of daylight) to make a run into southwestern Alabama.  Purpose was three-fold: photograph some route termini, check how a few routes were signed in the field, and to check the status of several construction projects.

Some notes:

- Base pavement is now being placed on the new MS 67 alignment near Saucier.

- Pursuant to an MTR thread from some time ago, there is an intersection in Agricola, at MS 613/Barton-Agricola Rd, that a rail line takes a somewhat diagonal path through. All four intersection approaches have railroad crossing signals, but no gates.

- Signage at the eastern US 98/MS 63 junction still suggests that MS 63 takes its old route through Lucedale, rather than bypass around as has been the case for a few years now.

- I mentioned some months ago that there was a roughly 7.5-mile segment of MS 57 between Leakesville and State Line that had just been opened to 4-lane traffic. At the time final paving was still underway. That paving has since been completed and the project along that stretch completed.

- Just to the north, paving is underway on the US 45/MS 57 State Line project. From what I saw, my guess would be a late winter or spring opening.

- Related to the State Line project, signage recently posted along US 45 suggests that the project will include a MS 42 rerouting. Right now, MS 42 turns left off of St Peter St on the east side of State Line, has several curves, passes underneath the new MS 57, and crosses US 45 before becoming AL 56 at the state line. The signage suggests that MS 42 will continue east along a realigned St Peter St to US 45 (realigned about 200 feet to the north). The new MS 57 will have a diamond interchange at this realigned St Peter St for access into State Line. At US 45, MS 42 will turn north and have a roughly 3/4 mile duplex with US 45 before turning east into Alabama.

- A faded "EAST AL 56" trailblazer still exists on southbound US 45 at the US 45/MS 42 intersection.

- The 65 MPH speed limit on US 43 between Jackson and Grove Hill is somewhat unnerving to me, mainly because US 43 between the two towns is a 4-lane *UN*divided road with minimal shoulder. At least having some offset between the opposing lanes would be nice if they're going to have that speed limit along it.

- The US 43 bypass of Grove Hill is for the most part a 5-lane undivided highway, although there is minimal development along it and I only saw one or two non-public access points along the bypass. The area in the immediate vicinity of the US 84 interchange has a concrete median, located in the middle of what would normally be the center left turn lane.

- Cheapest 87 octane gas found on the trip was $1.999/gal in Grove Hill. First time I've seen gas at/under $2.00/gal since July of last year.

- Noticed that a northbound "TRUCK AL 47" exists in the Monroeville vicinity. A southbound version did not appear to exist.

- Although Monroeville appears on maps to be away from US 84, sprawl from the town extends to just south of US 84.

- Traffic in Monroeville desiring I-65 is directed via trailblazers to use AL 136 and US 84 to I-65 North, and AL 21 to I-65 South.

- Sometime since 1998, the eastern US 31/US 84 junction was realigned to where US 84 is now the dominant "through" route. Previously, US 31 was the through route.

- As with the above-mentioned segment of US 43, AL 55 between US 31 and US 84 is a 4-lane undivided road with a 65 MPH speed limit. There's a difference, though....AL 55 has a roughly 2-3ft offset between opposing lanes. A "flush median", if you will.

- Speaking of the 4-lane segment of AL 55, there is a noticeable difference between the southern and northern segments. The northern, newer, segment has full shoulder but lacks turn lanes (even, and especially, at US 31). The southern segment, by contrast, has turn lanes but lacks a full shoulder.

- The US 84/AL 55 duplex is 5-lanes undivided from where AL 55 splits off to the northwest down to the Andalusia "bypass", which is basically a ring road surrounding the main part of town.

- According to maps, AL 15 follows the south and east legs of the ring road. However, it is not signed as such in the field. AL 55 follows the west and south legs and IS signed.

- Also according to maps, as well as what passes for an official Alabama route log (taken from their annual report), AL 100 exists in Andalusia. If it exists, it is unsigned. I would hazard a bet that it has been decommissioned and the maps/logs just haven't caught up yet.

- To the east, ALDOT is in the process of widening US 84 to 4 lanes between Andalusia and Opp. Grading looked to be generally complete, but except for the first mile or so out of Andalusia which is open to 4 lanes (out to Covington CR 57), no paving has been done. Although a set of passing lanes exists along this stretch of US 84, traffic was heavy even on a Sunday.

- The US 84 part of the Opp bypass appears to have been very recently opened to traffic. Recent enough to where US 84 isn't mentioned (with one exception) along the US 331 part of the bypass and signs through town still indicate mainline US 84 through town.

- Maps suggest that the entire Opp bypass is AL 299, which is unsigned.  Milemarkers along the bypass support this, which means that unsigned AL 12 and AL 9 still go through Opp. The whole bypass is a 4-lane at-grade expressway with traffic signals at major junctions (4 signals in all). Alas, the bypass also has a "STRICTLY ENFORCED" 55 MPH speed limit.

- At the west end of the bypass (about the only place where US 84 bypass signage exists), the old route through town is oddly signed as "ALTERNATE US 84".

- Similarly, at the south end of the bypass, the old US 331 routing was signed as "ALTERNATE US 331". However, the rest of US 331's old routing through town was signed as 'BUSINESS US 331".

- Both AL 52 and AL 134 have been truncated to where they intersect the bypass. Signs along both routes within Opp now say "TO AL xxx" instead of having a directional banner.

- In Florala, heading south from US 331 is the dual-signed "AL 55/FL 85", even though one doesn't get to the state line (and FL 85) for about a mile.

- Found my requisite "gravel road" for the roadtrip, in southeastern Escambia County within Conecuh National Forest.

- After snapping AL 21/FL 97 at the state line, it was getting dark so I opted for the quick ride home.

- Outside Perdido, traffic on southbound I-65 was surprisingly heavy.  Almost I-10ish heavy.

- Took a great twilight shot of the I-65 superstructure over the Mobile River, then headed home.

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(C) 2007, Adam Froehlig