This report was from a trip I took to Tuscaloosa, AL and back on May 19, 2007.

Alabama (and a few Mississippi) notes from 5/19

A few belated notes from a daytrip I took on 5/19:

- On the west side of Tuscaloosa, north of the toll bridge across the Black Warrior River, an extension to the Black Warrior Parkway has been built. It splits off the old parkway (now named Industrial Park Dr) a little north of the river, then veers northwest then north, meeting US 82 a little west of Flatwoods Rd/CR 86. North of US 82, the road ties into what is shown on the 2007 MSS&T as "Rose Blvd", and street signs in this area label the new road as Rose Blvd.  Eventually, the new road curves northeast and ties into US 43 at the CR 56/Mitt Lary Rd intersection on the north side of Northport. The road is mostly 4-lanes undivided with turn lanes at most public intersections, and except right near US 43 and US 82 appeared to lack private driveways (not that there's a lot of development along the road now anyway).

- US 43 has recently been widened to 5 lanes from just south of CR 56/Mitt Lary Rd to near CR 62. A widening project is underway from there south to US 82.

- ALDOT has a few VMS signs now installed in the US 82 median at various points between AL 69 and I-20/59. Most of them are for eastbound traffic, though there's one south of the river for westbound traffic.

- The first phase of the long-planned Black Warrior Loop freeway has been completed, but sits rather isolated. Right now it consists of a 4-lane bridge over the Black Warrior River, a couple miles east of the US 82 span. The bridge is marked as AL 297 (as presumably the rest of the Loop will be when/if built) and only connects between Rice Mine Rd north of the river and Jack Warner Pkwy south of the river. The north end is a standard T-intersection, while the south end follows the eventual interchange ramps with a little bit of a ghost grade extending beyond the ramps. A rather large (albeit one-story) office building sits squarely in the way of westward expansion beyond Rice Mine Rd.

- US 43 makes two turns in downtown Demopolis.

- On southbound US 43 on the approach to the western junction with US 80 is a set of old overhead guide signs that have button-copy shields.

- West of Demopolis along US 80 are two projects involving an extension of the 4-lane along US 80. From just east of the Tenn-Tom to where AL 28 North splits off, grading and bridges appear complete and it's just waiting for a paving project. On this section the new lanes will be the future westbound lanes. West of AL 28 to Bellamy, grading and bridgework are underway, and the new roadway switches about halfway from being the future westbound lanes to being the future eastbound lanes.

- Earthmoving is well underway for the US 84 widening east of Waynesboro, beginning about 1/2 mile west of the state line. There are several segments where the 4-lanes will be on all new alignment.

- On southbound US 45 approaching State Line, only the 1/2 mile advance guide sign includes shields for MS 57 and "TO MS 42". There's also inconsistency in the control cities. All three (1 mile advance, 1/2 mile advance, and exit sign) have Hattiesburg, but the 1 mile sign has Mississippi Gulf Coast, the 1/2 mile sign has State Line, and the exit sign simply has Gulf Coast.

- At the US 45/MS 42 junction, MS 42 is now briefly duplexed with US 45, having been rerouted onto US 45 then onto a reconstructed St. Peter St (which has an interchange with the new MS 57). There is still a lingering WEST MS 42 reassurance shield west of the intersection however. There are now actual MS 42 trailblazers and reassurance shields for MS 42 east of US 45 to the state line...previously this was unsigned. These shields are co-signed with "TO AL 56" shields. There's also a "4-Lane Now Open" sign on MS 42 just before the US 45 junction. The 4-lane section on US 45 extends through the MS 42 East intersection and tapers back to 2 lanes just south of it.

- As with on southbound US 45 (described above), the southbound MS 57 exit signage to MS 42 lacks a MS 42 shield, although the 1/2 mile advance guide sign has one as does the northbound signage.

- With the opening of the State Line bypass, the 4-lane section on MS 57 beginning at US 45 extends to about 9 miles south of State Line.

- From what I understand, the paving project for the rest of the MS 57/63 4-laning down to Lucedale will be let sometime this year...grading and bridges for it are now complete.

- Lastly, this marked my first trip across the new US 90 Bay St Louis bridge...the bridge having just been opened to 2 lanes a couple days previously. The two lanes that are open are the future eastbound lanes....the parallel bike/ped path is still under construction and not open, and there's still a significant section of bridgedeck to be poured for the westbound side. The bridge speed limit is 35 MPH, though most traffic was going at least 40. The 2-lane segment extends from 4th Ave, just east of the CSX bridge (and the former turnoff to the temporary ferry that was in operation) west across the new bridge to 2nd St in Bay St. Louis. The intersection with Beach Blvd in Bay St. Louis, though striped, is closed, with Beach Blvd traffic redirected to the 2nd St intersection via the frontage roads.

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(C) 2007, Adam Froehlig