This report was from the trip up to and one trip back from Boy Scout Summer Camp, in mid-June 2007.
Hi all. As a few of you know, I volunteer with a local Boy Scout troop down
here. We recently had our annual summer camp at Camp Davy Crockett near
Morristown, TN. Below is the first of four trip reports of road-related notes
from what amounted to 2 round trips between Picayune and summer camp:
Trip north (on 6/16-17):
- Near Hattiesburg, heading southbound, were 2 trucks (and SEVERAL escorts) hauling what looked to be REALLY LONG storage tanks. My first thought is they were part of the rocket boosters for the space shuttle...they were about the right length.
- Construction at the I-59 "S-Curve" in Laurel has progressed nicely. From what I could tell, all of the bridge piers are built, and several of the bridge beams are in place.
- A repaving project on I-20/59 through Meridian included a 50 MPH speed limit that nobody was following.
- Something I've never really noticed before, but the guide signage for the 29th Ave exit in Meridian has the "Ave" in all-caps...and only eastbound.
- "Mile 0" on I-359 in Tuscaloosa is actually just north of the US 11/AL 69 intersection, instead of at the I-20/59 overpass.
- The next phase of I-20/59 widening between Tuscaloosa and Birmingham appears to have begun. Construction signs were up from just east of Exit 79 to the west end of the completed 6-lane section east of Exit 86.
- The pavement on I-59 between Gadsden and the Georgia line has gotten rough in recent years....almost all of it is still the original concrete, and the expansion joints are very noticeable (and bumpy) in several areas, especially in the right lane.
- ALDOT is widening US 11 in the vicinity of the I-59 interchange on the north side of Fort Payne (Exit 222). As I discovered on my 2nd trip north (more on that later), it includes widening the bridge over I-59, the interchange ramps, and east of I-59 to where US 11 parallels the railroad through Fort Payne.
- I don't recall what the speed limit used to be on I-24 through its Georgia dip, but it's 65 MPH now. Then, once back inside Tennessee on the Chattanooga side, it goes to a split speed limit...65/55 cars/trucks, then all traffic down to 55 MPH at the foot of Lookout Mountain.
- While grabbing dinner near the main mall in Chattanooga, we passed by a strange looking vehicle. In a nutshell, it was the back half of a VW Beetle mated to the front half of a motorcycle, with the "driver's seat" being just under the front part of the canopy.
- Sunday morning the 17th, we began by making the climb up Lookout Mountain (which is normally via TN 148, but coming from the west from breakfast off Exit 175 we clinched TN 318) and up to Point Park so the scouts could take in that part of the Chattanooga National Military Park. Though it was very hazy that morning, I pointed out to the boys that on a clear day, one can see parts of seven states from the top of Lookout Mountain (on this day, we could see three). [Editor's Note: After a discussion on misc.transport.road, in which it was pointed out that this "see parts of 7 states" is an advertising gimmick, it was determined that you can see parts of 3 states from the top, MAYBE a fourth.]
- After taking in the park and a video about a large 13' x 30' canvas painting of the Civil War battle located in the Visitor's Center, we headed back down the mountain, where at the north end of TN 148 is a set of dual stop signs (basically the old one and the replacement, though the old one hasn't been removed yet).
- The US 11/41/64/72 quadplex is nominally a 4-lane undivided route. However, there are two locations where the route narrows to 2 lanes...both involving underpasses under the Norfolk Southern rail tracks: one just east of Browns Valley Rd, the other just west of TN 17.
- The new Exit 9 on I-75 (shown on the 2007 TN map) is not open yet. Pavement and striping appear to be finished, but signage still needs to be posted.
- The 8 lane section on I-75 extends to about 1 mile north of the future Exit 9, where I-75 narrows back to 4 lanes. Though not a problem on a Sunday morning, I imagine it's trouble during the evening rush hour.
- There's been some mention in the past on MTR about the "Fog Advisory Area" on I-75...it runs for about 20 miles from north of Cleveland to southwest of Athens. The most visible differences within this advisory area are the presence of traffic cameras (very rare for such a rural area), increased use of reflectors, and a different skip striping sequence for the centerline. There were also some overhead VMS installed.
- I-75 slows down to a 65/55 car/truck split speed limit between Exit 68 and Exit 72.
- Exit 81 (US 321/TN 95) had the cheapest gas noticed in the eastern Tennessee area.
- TDOT drops all traffic to 55 MPH (not just trucks) just east of Exit 373 on the I-40/75 duplex.
- The widening on I-40/75 between West Mills and Papermill Rd is now completed, and I-40/75 is a full 8 lanes plus additional auxiliary lanes now between I-140 and I-640.
- Noticed travel times posted on some of the Knoxville area VMS. Mainly comparing travel time on I-40 to travel time on I-640.
- Took I-640 around, because of my then-mistaken belief that I-40 had already been closed in downtown Knoxville. As I learned, that closure has not happened yet.
- Some sort of construction or incident had traffic on the ramps to I-75 North horribly congested.
- Trucks are required to use the right 2 lanes on I-640 between I-75/275 and I-40 on the northeast side of town. There were similar truck lane restrictions on most of the I-40/75 duplex and on I-40 northeast of Knoxville to I-81.
- Exit 4 on I-81 (TN 341) is being reconstructed, including new bridges on I-81 over TN 341.
- The traffic signal on US 11E at TN 66 in Bulls Gap was blinking yellow for US 11E traffic.
- On US 11E between Bulls Gap and Whitesburg was one of the occasional SL 55/TRUCKS 50 speed limit signs I saw in northeast Tennessee. I was under the impression that TDOT was phasing these out and making all traffic 55 MPH.
- Camp Davy Crockett was located a few miles off TN 113, in the northernmost corner of Hamblen County on the shore of Cherokee Lake (which looked to be several feet below normal, due in no small part to the area's drought).
- Made one trip up to Rogersville during camp for a WalMart run. US 11W is mainly a 5-lane undivided section from just east of TN 344 over to the east side of Rogersville. There are two "pseudo-interchanges" on the Rogersville bypass...at TN 66/TN 70 South and TN 70 North/TN 347. The former has a bridge over US 11W for TN 66 and a couple of access connectors on each side of US 11W. The latter has an underpass under US 11W and is more like a substandard folded-diamond interchange, with the off-ramps being the loops and the northbound ramps connecting to Main St (old US 11W) instead of TN 70 directly.
- There was also a traffic signal on US 11W in Rogersville, at Park Blvd.
- Rogersville has a neat little downtown with mostly brick buildings along Main St.
- TN 66/70 has a half-diamond interchange with Main St with ramps to/from the south. It's signed as "Business District" heading northbound. Connections to/from "TN 66/70 North" are made via a connector road to the access connector going to/from northbound US 11W. A Google satellite view:
- A sign on northbound TN 66 at US 11W was a "WARNING TO TRUCKERS, SWITCHBACKS NEXT 24 MILES, CONSIDER ALT ROUTE".
- Also made a run to Morristown while at camp. As with several other locations, there are red-background signs on southbound I-81 warning truckers of cargo restrictions/prohibitions at the US 25E tunnel at Cumberland Gap.
- US 25E between I-81 and the south end of the Morristown bypass at TN 343 (old US 25E through town) is 50 MPH and most of it has a very wide median...wider than normal.
- Although the US 25E bypass is not a freeway and even has three traffic signals mixed in, the three interchanges all have exit numbers. TN 160 is "Exit 1", US 11W South/Morris Blvd is "Exit 2A", and US 11W North is "Exit 2B".
- The bypass is mostly 55 MPH, though it slows to 45 MPH for a stretch where two of the three signals are, which connect to the local WalMart, the local mall, and a community college. The third signal is at the north end of the bypass at TN 343, just north of which is a half-directional interchange with direct connections between TN 343 and US 25E to the north.
- Main St through downtown Morristown had a strange entity. In addition to a ground-level sidewalk, there was also an elevated sidewalk on both sides stretching for a few blocks. It was unclear just what the elevated sidewalk's purpose was or if it connected to anything worthwhile on the 2nd floor of each building.
- The Andrew Johnson Hwy/Liberty Hill Rd junction in eastern Morristown is a small interchange along Andrew Johnson Hwy...diamond ramps on the westbound side, a folded-diamond on the eastbound side. This isn't the only non-US 25E interchange in town....TN 160 has a folded diamond interchange at TN 343.
- East of Morristown...while US 11E on the north side of the railroad narrows to 2 lanes just east of US 25E, Morris Blvd on the south side of the railroad (and part of US 11E to the west of US 25E) continues as a 4-lane boulevard providing access to industrial property on the south side of the railroad. Morris Blvd continues as a 4-lane road all the way to Russellville, where it narrows to 2 lanes as it makes a sharp curve, crosses the railroad, and ends at US 11E just east of the US 11E/TN 344 junction.
Trip South (on 6/20):
Wednesday the 20th was the first day of a 2-day "mad rush", as I had to run one of the adult leaders back to Picayune due to his wife being in the hospital and I made the decision to drive back up on Thursday to finish up camp with the boys. The drive south was a reciprocal of the drive up, though there were a few items of note on the "southwestbound side":
- On I-40 approaching Knoxville is a "Knoxville 12" distance sign that underneath also said "12 mi or 19 km".
- Took I-40 through Knoxville vice going around on I-640. At Exit 389, the new Hall of Fame Dr bridge over I-40 and ramps are complete and open, and traffic is using the new interchange configuration...basically a standard diamond.
- The James White Pkwy interchange is closed, though most of the old bridges were still in-place.
- The southbound I-75 rest area south of TN 30 is closed.
- The "Chattanooga 25 mi or 40 km" distance sign still exists south of Cleveland.
- I hit the 30,000 mile mark on my car just south of Milepost 229 in Alabama.
- Passed a large touring bus south of Gadsden that was labeled "State of Michigan".
- One set of reassurance shields on southbound I-459 (also with TO I-20/TO I-59) had all three shields in a wide-style almost like a wide US shield.
- ALDOT was doing a mill-and-overlay on a 17 mile stretch of I-20/59 between Cuba and Livingston.
- South of Meridian to near Enterprise, we got stuck along with about 2 dozen other vehicles behind a HUGELY oversized load with several escorts (including another 18-wheeler hauling parts). When they finally pulled over at the MS 513 interchange, we saw that it was a large houseboat that was being moved.
Next up will be the 2nd trip back north.
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(C) 2007, Adam Froehlig