Monday, February 29, 2016

Road Trip to the Future

I took a few hours this past Saturday (2/27) to check out the progress on several projects that will help shape the future of driving in Massachusetts and beyond. Most notably, wider roads, electronic tolling, and milepost-based exit numbers.

1. Wider Roads
The longest construction project going on in the Metro Boston area is the '128-Add-A-Lane' Project, to create a fourth travel lane on I-93 and I-95 from MA 24 in Randolph to MA 9 in Wellesley. The work is now concentrated on the last section north of Great Plain Avenue in Needham. The work includes adding a fourth lane to the median:

Replacing bridges over the highway, such as this one for Kendrick Street, now completed:

Building a new off-ramp from Kendrick Street, in progress:

And, revising the interchange with MA 9:

The whole project is due to be completed by 2019.

2. Electronic Tolling
MassDOT having instituted electronic tolls on the Tobin Bridge in 2014, is now in the process of doing the same for the Massachusetts Turnpike. New electronic toll gantries have been going up across the roadway in the past several months. The first to go up was in Weston near the State Police Barracks:

This is to capture the EZ-Pass tags or license plate of vehicles traveling between the I-95/128 and the MA 30 exits. Other more recently placed gantries include one just after the Framingham Service Plaza Westbound:

That will capture traffic between the MA 30 and MA 9 exits, and this next one:

That is placed between the exits for MA 9 and I-495. There were also a couple supports placed for future gantries between the I-495 exit and MA 122 and this one approaching the Charlton Service Plaza between the interchanges for I-395/I-290/MA 12 and I-84 in Sturbridge:

MassDOT plans to have the electronic tolling system up and running by October 2016.

3. Milepost Based Exit Numbering
MassDOT recently awarded a contract to revise the exit numbers along the state's interstates and other route expressways from consecutive numbers to those based on mileposts. The work is suppose to be complete by early 2018. One of the first routes rumored to be revised is I-84 due to its short length. I exited the Mass Turnpike (under a separate contract that will replace all the exit signs and change the exit numbers, nothing was seen in the first project's work zone west of Auburn) at what will be future Exit 78:

But only saw the new exit signage put up a few years ago, not new numbers. I took a few photos anyway for historical purposes. Here's the signage for future Exits 6A and 6B:

Here's a future 1-Mile overhead advance sign for Future Exit 5:

And here's the signage for Future Exit 3:

Although Massachusetts has not started its renumbering yet, Connecticut has completed its work renumbering its portion of I-395. Since the first exit on I-395 South in Connecticut is actually 2/10's of a mile north of the border. This sign has the claim to be the first sign in Massachusetts with a milepost-based exit number:
It appears that a Connecticut exit tab was place over the existing 'Exit 100' tab on the Massachusetts sign. If you haven't checked it out yet, feel free to visit My List of Current and Future Massachusetts Exit Numbers

Since I was heading across the border, I thought I'd try to capture some of the newer signs placed since my Last Visit in November . This is the first sign in Connecticut for Exit 53, notice the Old Exit # tab is on the 1/2 mile advance sign, rather than the I-Mile sign elsewhere:

Unfortunately, signs southbound will suffer from some glare from the February sun. Here's the next sign in the series at the exit ramp:

And the new gore sign with the Old Exit # Tab, the only former 3-digit exit on the route:

The next new exit number is 50 for the CT 200 exit in Thompson, the 1-Mile Advance:

Followed by new 1/2 Mile advance, with a Service logo tab on the bottom, but in green, not blue   :

Just after the exit, here's the I-395 Mile 50 marker:

And the new version of the South I-395 Reassurance Marker:

The next new exit number is 47 for US 44 in Putnam:

The exit is almost immediately followed by an exit that leads to CT 12 which parallels I-395:

The next sign for New Exit 46, again featuring a service logo tab on the sign:

The next exit sign is for Kennedy Drive, New Exit 45, however:

It is before the Exit 46 off-ramp:

The first exit south of Putnam is New Exit 43 for Attawaugan / Ballouville:

Followed by signs for CT 101, New Exit 41 in Dayville:

Here's the one mile advance for CT 101 after I turned around at US 6:

And the 1/2 mile advance, this exit has separate blue service logo signs:

Here's the gore sign at the exit:

Between CT 101 and US 6 there is an exit for S.Killingly/Danielson, New Exit 38:

Followed by the US 6 Exit in Danielson, New Exit 37:

The 1-Mile advance being for the US 6 West Exit. This is followed by new overhead signage on the old sign gantry, the first appearance of US 6 East:

This is followed by more overheads approaching the US 6 West exit:

While ground-mounted signage follows for US 6 East follows:

This is where I got off and turned around to head back to CT 101:
The gore sign seems a little too wide here.

Here's some Exit 37 and Exit 38 signage heading back northbound:

Hopefully, I'll have photos of new exit number signs in Massachusetts soon.

Sunday, February 21, 2016

My prediction on the numbers for the two new North Carolina Interstate Corridors


Could these be the next two Interstates in North Carolina?

It seems more than likely that NCDOT is going to petition AASHTO to approve the formal numeric numeration for the two new interstate corridors that were included in the FAST ACT.   The two corridors are US 64 from Raleigh to Williamston then continuing north on US 17 to Hampton, VA.  The other follows US 70 from Interstate 40 near Clayton eastwards to Morehead City.

NCDOT is most likely going to submit an application for both routes this April for the AASHTO meeting this coming May.  Here are my predictions for the number of each route.

US 70 Corridor - We know that NCDOT is planning to petition for a number between 40 and 60.  Obviously, 40 is already taken, and there is an Interstate 44 already in place running from St. Louis to Wichita Falls, TX.  42 is possible - however - there are a few of the opinion that since NC 42 intersects with the proposed Interstate this number is out.  Though, this hasn't stopped NC 73 from intersecting with I-73, I think NCDOT will pass on 42 because of NC 42's close proximity.  My guess is Interstate 46.  NC 46 runs near the state line and can be renumbered if the state chooses.  AASHTO and or the FHWA may throw a curveball and suggest a three digit branch of Interstate 40.  If that is the case, and because I am going to hedge by bet here - I'll say that this suggestion with be Interstate 340 because the connection to 40 lies between 140 in Wilmington and 540 in Raleigh.

US 64/US 17 Corridor - This is slightly more difficult.  The local business coalition that pushed for an Interstate designation along this corridor has always branded this as Interstate 44.  However, they concede that Interstate 44 may not be the right number for the route.  There seems to be an overall consensus of opinion for Interstate 50.  Plus, the western end of this corridor - from I-95 in Rocky Mount west to I-440 in Raleigh - already has an Interstate designation, Interstate 495.  So what will NCDOT do? Scratch 495 and have a two digit number for the entire corridor?   Keep 495 and begin the new route at Interstate 95 in Rocky Mount?

My guess - Interstate 50.  Yes, US 50 goes through Virginia but it is nowhere in the vicinity of the Tidewater Region.  If that is of a concern - Interstate 54 would be my next choice.  I also believe that if a two digit Interstate is approved that the allowed signage for the new route will go beyond Interstate 495's current end at I-540 in Knightdale.  They will allow the route to be signed to the US 64 Business Exit in Wendell (Exit 429).

Of course, I'm most likely wrong.  Feel free to make your own predictions in the comments below.

Interstate shields courtesy of David Kendrick's Shields Up!

Friday, January 01, 2016

I-73/I-74 Year in Review 2015

While the year was fairly quiet for both I-73 and I-74 in North Carolina, with only continued construction and no new segment openings, there were some positive signs that funding had been found to accelerate several projects over the next several years.

I-73

Work continued on the I-73 projects in the Greensboro area. The US 220 widening from the Haw River had both good news and bad news. The good news was the project surpassed the 50% completion mark during 2015, with the percentage finished reaching 56.5% at the end of the year. The bad news was that the project was supposed to be 92% complete. Therefore, NCDOT finally faced the facts of the delay in the work and pushed back the completion date from the end of 2016 to June 2017. The additional work on revamping the NC 68 interchange at the northern end of the project should be completed around the same time. Here's a couple photos from last January showing progress approaching the of the future interchange with US 158  and NC 65, courtesy of AARoads Forum member, Strider:

Work is also proceeding on building the I-73 Connector from PTI Airport to US 220 at the Haw River. That project is 45.4% complete and slightly ahead of schedule. The official completion date, however, was pushed back from April to October 2017. Work also started in September on the upgrade of the Bryan Blvd. interchange with the Greensboro Loop (I-840). That project was 22.9% complete at the end of November and should be completed by March 2017. Here's a couple photos taken by Strider this past August of the construction of I-73 along NC 68:

While here's a view of the I-73 roadbed heading east toward US 220:

Meanwhile, at the other end of I-73, work is continuing on the first segment of the I-73/I-74 Rockingham Bypass. The work to bring US 220 up to interstate standards south of Ellerbe is now 33.6% complete as of December 22. The project, however is supposed to be 47% complete, and the delay has pushed back the projected completion date to March 2018 from October 2017. There may be some good news about funding the remainder of the project. A source who visited with an NCDOT project engineer said NCDOT may fund the work next year. It is unclear whether this is due to a new budget formula that is accelerating some I-74 projects (see below) or that the project will be funded in next years Draft STIP document which will cover 2018 to 2027.

I-74

Work continued in 2015 on building the Eastern half of the Winston-Salem Northern Beltway, which started in the fall of 2014. Work constructing the route from Business 40/US 421/NC 150 to US 158 was 14.5% complete as of December 22. A bad sign, however, is that this is already behind schedule, projected to be 18.6% complete and the projected completion date has already been pushed back to April 2019 from October 2018. Here's a couple photos of the construction as seen from Business 40, courtesy of J. Austin Carter:

NC Governor McCrory announced in November 2015 that the NCDOT budget formula had been changed, preventing the legislature from taking money from the transportation fund for other projects. As part of the announcement, the governor indicated money had been found to accelerate several high profile road projects, including the Winston-Salem Beltway. If approved by the NCDOT Board in January, funding would granted to the remaining segments of the Beltway, currently unfunded west of US 311 and not projected to start construction until after 2025. It is unclear at this time, however, when construction would now start on these now funded segments.

The budget changes also led the NCDOT to fund several other transportation projects in the 2016-2025 STIP, previously not projected to start until 2026 or later. Among these was the project to upgrade US 74 to interstate standards from the eastern end of the Rockingham Bypass to the currently signed section of I-74 east of the Bus. 74/Alt. 74 interchange in Robeson County (which would included the once I-74 signed Laurinburg Bypass). If approved by the Board, work would start in 2022. It is perhaps that given that the completion of this segment would mean the I-73/I-74 Bypass segment would be the missing link in a completed I-74 between Winston-Salem and Laurinburg, that NCDOT is to fund that work next year.

2016 is supposed to be another slow year with continued construction of the projects listed above, but perhaps, like this year, there will be some surprises along the way.

The FAST Act brings two new Interstate corridors to North Carolina - expands another

The highway bill known as the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act (FAST Act) is passed and signed into law.  The 1,305 page bill has a lot items to it and future impacts to transportation in North Carolina are inside the bill.  This includes the creation of two new Interstate corridors and the extension of another.  As for the numbering of the new corridors, I'll discuss in a later post.

High Priority Corridor 81:


The first is the creation of High Priority Corridor 81 - this lists as including US 117 and Interstate 795 and runs from US 70 in Goldsboro southwards to Interstate 40 in Faison.  In short, this will extend I-795 from Goldsboro to I-40 in Faison.  North Carolina has had on their agenda for numerous years making a freeway route from I-40 northwards to I-95 in Wilson.  The current Interstate 795 is the north half of this.

The southern half consists of US 117.  A number of steps are needed to make this section of US 117 and Interstate.  First, US 117 from Goldsboro south to US 13 in Mar-Mac will need to be bypassed.  This western bypass of Goldsboro has been kicked around by NCDOT for at least 20 years.  In fact, some early preliminary studies date to 1994.   In the past month, the Governor's office has announced that numerous projects throughout the state have been accelerated as a result of recent budget reforms.  The Goldsboro Western Bypass benefits from this change - albeit slightly.  The state will begin right-of-way acquisition along the project (U-3125) beginning in 2024.  Construction is currently unfunded.

Project U-3125 consists of the Western Goldsboro Bypass and upgrading the Dudley Bypass of US 117 (opened in 1990) to freeway/interstate standards.  One piece of that upgrade will occur prior to 2025.  The current at-grade intersections with Oberry Road and Country Club Roads will be converted to interchanges in 2017.  The funding acceleration program both improved the start date on both interchanges by three and four years, respectively.

South of NC 55 - US 117 will need a number of at-grade closings that will need to be eliminated along with probable interchanges where US 117 leaves to Faison, NC 50, NC 403 and at Interstate 40.  Some of these intersections with state highways may only be overpasses and not interchanges.  From the best of what I can tell, any improvements along this section of the corridor are currently unfunded.


High Priority Corridor 82:


Since Interstate 40 was routed from Raleigh to Wilmington  instead of Morehead City in the late 70s, North Carolina continued its push for a four-lane corridor from Raleigh to Morehead City along US 70.  Over the years, this desire for a four lane highway has evolved to building a full fledge freeway towards the Crystal Coast.  The FAST Act now takes it one step further and makes US 70 from I-40 near Clayton to Morehead City an Interstate corridor. 

The state of various sections along the approximately 135 mile corridor varies from interstate grade freeway, expressway to five-lane boulevards.  There are plans for numerous bypasses along the route of Kinston, Havelock, and within Carteret County.

If the state receives various approvals, two sections of highway could be designated an Interstate today.  Both the Clayton and soon to be completed Goldsboro bypasses meet interstate standards and connect to existing routes on the Interstate System.  Interstate 40 in Clayton and Interstate 795 in Goldsboro, respectively. 

In addition, a number of projects are underway or will be in the next few years to slowly bring the rest of the corridor to Interstate standards.  The current / future funded projects include:
  • Construction of two interchanges near Pine Level.  (Peedin Road Extension and Davis Mill/Stevens Chapel Rds) Project W-5107.  This project is currently under construction and should be completed by 2018.  This will eliminate two traffic lights along US 70 and median crossings.  However, there will still need to be some at-grade closures along with possible concerns with the Davis Mill/Stevens Chapel Roads interchange.  The interchange is a quadrant interchange and may need future upgrading.
  • Construction of two interchanges near Wilson Mills.  These interchanges will eliminate traffic signals at Swift Creek and Wilson Mills Roads.  Project W-5600.  Construction should begin in 2020.  The official description on NCDOT's website is to upgrade to freeway from US 70 Business to the Neuse River Bridge.  Expected completion is in 2022.
  • Construction of the Havelock BypassProject R-1015.  This 10.3 mile bypass of Havelock is set to begin construction in 2018.  This bypass will be built to interstate standards and will consist of three interchanges (one each at the bypass' terminal points with US 70 and with Lake Road).  Though it will be ready to be an interstate once opened, this will most likely be one of the last sections of the new interstate to be signed.
  • James City Upgrades - East of the Neuse River Bridge and New Bern, NC DOT is looking to upgrade 2.5 of US 70 to a freeway.  Project U-5713.
Other projects to improve the rest of the corridor are unfunded.  These include upgrading US 70 to a full freeway from I-95 east to the Goldsboro bypass.  This would involve eliminating numerous at-grade intersections, business and residential driveway access.  Two traffic lights in Princeton would be removed and the intersection with US 70A in Princeton would be improved to most likely an interchange. 

Bypassing Kinston is the largest of the unfunded corridor projects.  Plans are to build the bypass to the south of the city; however, it remains unfunded and a projected start of construction dates are unknown.  It is possible that the designation of US 70 as a High Priority Corridor may focus the state to fund this project sooner. 

Finally, the segment from James City to the Havelock Bypass.  Project R-5777.  This project will upgrade US 70 to a freeway connecting James City to Havelock.  This project sat unfunded for years - but the recent accelerated schedule announced by the Governor's office has right of way acquisition beginning in 2025.

High Priority Corridor 13:


The Raleigh to Norfolk corridor that uses US 64, 13, and 17 was one of the original High Priority Corridors signed into law in 1991.  The FAST Act defined the route further and also officially designated  HPC 13 as a "Future Interstate Corridor". 

The route consists of US 64 from Interstate 440 in Raleigh eastwards to Williamston where the route will turn north on US 13 & 17 towards Windsor. At Windsor, the corridor follows US 17 eastwards and then northwards past Elizabeth City and into Virginia.

A portion of this corridor - US 64 from Raleigh to Interstate 95 in Rocky Mount - has been designated as Interstate 495.  Interstate 495 is presently signed from Interstate 440 eastwards to Interstate 540 in Knightdale.  The highway from that point until the terminus at Rocky Mount is designated as 'Future Interstate 495'.  The freeway continues as interstate standard from 540 to the Rolesville Road interchange (Exit 430).  From that point until Rocky Mount, the freeway will need to be improved to meet interstate standards.   This varies to shoulder widening for the entirety of the route  to exit ramp lengthening and bridge upgrades around Nashville.  Currently, there are no funded plans to improve this stretch of US 64 to Interstate standards.  There are long term plans to widen US 64/264 to six lanes from Exit 430 to the 64/264 split in Zebulon (Exit 436); however, they remain unfunded. 

East of Interstate 95 - the US 64 freeway will need to be improved to interstate standards through Rocky Mount and to Tarboro.  Newer sections of the US 64 freeway that were opened from Tarboro to Williamston appear to meet Interstate standards (at the time of this post - it had been a year since the author had driven this section of 64 and I didn't pay that close attention).

Between Williamston and Windsor - US 13/17 will need to be upgraded from a four lane divided boulevard or built on a new alignment.  I am unaware of any long term plans for this section of highway.

The Windsor Bypass will need to be upgraded to Interstate standards.  Although access is somewhat controlled, the at-grades will need to be eliminated and the freeway section east of US 13 will need to see at a minimum widened shoulders.  US 17 will need various upgrades or possible realignments from Windsor to Elizabeth City.
  • The state has funded plans for upgrading the US 17 freeway from south end of the Chowan River Bridge to the US 17 Business Interchange (Exit 230) to Interstate standards.  This project is tentatively scheduled to begin in 2025.  Project R-5731.
The US 17 Elizabeth City Bypass - although a full freeway - will need widened shoulders to meet Interstate status.  North of Elizabeth City to the Virginia border - US 17 will need to be upgraded.  The routing of US 17 through the Dismal Swamp will most likely be upgraded with no new alignment; however, this may be the most environmentally sensitive area and there could be serious litigation to have any freeway improvements built through here.

For the entire section north and east of Williamston, NCDOT is currently conducting a feasibility study (FS-1501A) for upgrading the entire 70+ miles to Interstate standards. 



Sunday, November 29, 2015

The first series of upgrades to Interstate 70 in SW Pennsylvania 1958-1960

For decades now, the 33 or so miles of Interstate 70 between New Stanton and Washington, Pennsylvania has been miles of narrow highway with nothing but a concrete (prior to that a steel guard rail) median separating high speed Interstate traffic.  The ramps at nearly all the interchanges have no acceleration or deceleration ability - in fact nearly all on-ramps to I-70 have a stop sign with them.  Narrow lanes and shoulders and low speed limits.

Well the good news - PennDot short of building a new Interstate 70 (I will get to that history some other time) is doing some much needed improvements throughout this stretch of highway.  As of this blog entry in November, 2015, the Smithton (Exit 49) and PA 519 (Exit 25) interchanges have been redone and the PA 917, PA 481 and New Stanton interchange rebuilds are underway.  Further plans are to improve the interchanges with PA 51, PA 31 and Yukon/Wyano within the next five years.

But these aren't the first wide scale improvements done to Interstate 70 to bring the highway up to interstate standards (or at least to a minimum standard).  In the late 1950s, an aggressive campaign saw the closure of numerous at grades, the addition of four new interchanges, and the redesign of a few others.  This was all done to allow the Interstate 70S designation to be applied to the then less than five year old PA 71.

Again, the great website, Penn Pilot, is the source of all aerial photo graphs.  We will travel East to West - starting at the PA 31 interchange.  The aerial photos from the late 50s do not show any construction east of the PA 31 interchange.

Construction of the PA 31 interchange (Exit 51) in September 1957.  The ROW clearing for the highway ends just off the upper right hand corner of the photo.  This section of highway was built with full controlled access.

The next interchange east is the Smithton interchange. (Exit 49)  This interchange was just recently redesigned and rebuilt as part of the I-70 Improvements Project.  The Youghiogheny River Bridge is still under construction.  This bridge was last rehabbed in the late 1990s.

A 1956 view of the PA 51 cloverleaf interchange (Exit 45).  PA 51 runs on its original two lane alignment with the exception of the newly built interchange.  My thought has always been that both occurred together.  Here is where you can begin to see some of the at-grades that were on PA 71 at the time.  An at grade at Nichols Hill Road exists to the east of PA 51.  Today, Nichols Hill Road is named for the road north of I-70 and Springs Road runs south of the Interstate.  I am not sure what the oval track was for (horses? stock cars?)
Compare the same area to a May 1967 image.  The at grade with Nichols Hill Road is removed and replaced with a bridge to the east that connects Crawford Lane to Finley Road.  PA 51 is now four lanes and the race oval is still there.  Cedarbrook Golf Club (Editors note: I have played here numerous times in my life.) is now open - but its expansion and corresponding tunnel underneath the highway to the north end of I-70 won't occur for another for another 22 years.

In 1956, the Arnold City interchange (Exit 44) didn't exist.  Indian Hill Road was an at grade crossing.  Also, south of the four-lane highway, it appears that Finley Road (former alignment of PA 981) joins and leaves the new PA 71 between Indian Hill Road and the Pricedale Interchange (PA 201/Exit 43).

This 1959 aerial photo shows the Arnold City interchange clearly under construction.  A new alignment of Finley Road is also being built which will eliminate those two at-grades.  You can also see at the uppermost right hand corner, the overpass that carries Crawford Lane (replacing the Nichols Hill Road at-grade) has been built.

Finally, a 1967 look at Interstate 70 at the Arnold City Interchange.  You can clearly make out the old alignments and changes to the rural two lane roads around I-70.

The next four aerials will cover the area between the PA 201 and PA 906 exits.  These are the Pricedale, Monessen, North Belle Vernon, and Belle Vernon Interchanges. (Exits 43, 42A, 42, and 41).

This first image is from September 1956.  Going right to left, the Pricedale and Monessen interchanges are in place.  The old Super 71 Drive-In theater is south of the interchange.  This drive-in lasted into the 1980s and was the last reference to the old PA 71 designation along I-70.

You will see that the trumped interchange for North Belle Vernon (Exit 42) is not in place.   It appears that a series of at grades existed on the north end of the town.  Case in point, the subdivision that is along Ferncliff Drive to the north of I-70 is at-grade.  Later, a bridge carrying Baltimore Street to Ferncliff Drive would be built.

A clearer view of the residential street at-grades in North Belle Vernon can be seen in the above 1958 aerial.  At the time of the photo, it appears no work has started on the North Belle Vernon interchange.

By 1959, things were beginning to change.  The bridge connecting the Ferncliff Drive subdivision to Baltimore Street and town had been built.  Also, the grading work for the North Belle Vernon interchange is well underway.  The connections to the homes along Beacon and Washington streets were also being built.
Here's a look at the finished product in 1967.  All interchanges are in place - the Super 71 is still there.  Interestingly though, the early shopping centers (K-Mart, Hills) at the Pricedale interchange are not there yet.  The image also gives you an idea of why this part of 70 seems shoehorned into the terrain.

Now, lets cross the Speers Bridge and Monongahela River and take a look at the Charleroi and Speers Interchanges (Exits 40 and 39).  This is also a four image progression.


This image from September 1956 shows quite a few items.  First, if you are headed eastbound and about to cross the Speers Bridge, it appears that there are a few extra ramps at the Charleroi (PA 88) interchange.  It looks to be that there is a ramp to the subdivision that overlooks the new highway and that a U-Turn type ramp that connects the subdivision to the ramp down to PA 88.  The next few images will show this a little more clearly.  Also, as you head further west, the Speers interchange is not present. There looks to be a number of at-grade and possibly even driveway connections at this time.

The August 1958 aerial shows more clearly the connections to the subdivision and PA 71 at the Charleroi Interchange.  The connection to/from the subdivision appears to be a spur of Lillian Street.  A Google Street Map view of the subdivision today - shows a Y with the right fork now abandoned going down the hill behind the homes in the subdivision.  Other clues is the rusted out old dual wire guardrail.

All of the at-grades remain.  However, trees have been cleared at the site of the future Speers Interchange and grading has begun for North Avenue which of course today runs along the north end of Interstate 70.

Fast forward eleven months to July 1959 - there is no change to Exit 40; however, the Speers interchange is taking shape.  The bridge that now carries Maple Drive over I-70 is in place.  The at-grades currently remain - and it doesn't appear that much progress has been made on North Avenue and its eventual connection to Kennedy Road.

Now the 1967 image.  The completed Speers interchange is shown.  The interchange was built to serve the properties north of I-70 and the subdivision that once had access via Lillian Street.  You can also see that as a result of the Speers interchange the ramps at Exit 40 (PA 88) have been somewhat lengthened from a hard right turn.  Today for access to Charleroi residents of the subdivision must either get on I-70 East and take Exit 40 to PA 88 or go over I-70 via Maple Street and take Twilight Hollow Road.

Next is the PA 481 Interchange.  Today this is Exit 35.  Between PA 481 and the Speers Interchange are two exits.  PA Turnpike 43 (Exit 37) and Lover (pronounced Low-Ber) which is Exit 36.  In 1958, no interchanges existed for 43 or Lover.  Exit 37 wouldn't open until 1990.  Exit 36 was a little sooner than that.

If you are going right-to-left, the first at-grade you see that has a road coming in from the south (bottom) is approximately where the Exit 36 sits today.  This is Twin Bridges Road.

The interchange in the photo is the first version of Exit 35 with PA 481.   Just to the east of the exit is a bridge that carries Crossridge Road over the highway.   Also, to the west of the interchange, is another at grade with what is today known as Yankosky (to the north) and Wheatley (to the South) Roads.


This 1967 photo shows at the far right the completed Lover interchange and the redesigned PA 481 exit.  The partial-cloverleaf ramps on I-70 east have been replaced with two more traditional diamond interchange type ramps.  The westbound on-off ramps did not change.  Construction has recently begun to redesign Exit 35 again.  This time as a traditional diamond interchange.  Also, the bridge that carry Crossridge Road will be removed as a part of this project.


 Further west we go and the next exit is for Bentleyville (Exits 32A & B)  As you can see there are a number of at grades and driveway connections all along the route.  A new alignment for Ames Road is being built to the south of the highway and to the west of the interchange.  This will eliminate on of the at-grades.  But take a look at the two exits - specifically what is now exit 32B.  The off ramp from the westbound highway is at a location further west than it is today.  It is after the PA 917 overpass.  This was changed by the time we get to 1967.

Here's the 1967 view of Interstate 70 with all of the at grades and driveway access closed.  The Exit 32A westbound off ramp is moved to the east and ties into Meadow Drive.  This interchange system is also under reconstruction.  Exit 32B (the western exits) will be a modern version of its current alignment.  However, Exit 32A will only now feature and eastbound off ramp and a westbound on ramp.



Exit 31 - Kammerer is the next interchange.  In 1958, the interchange is there.  As you continue west, there is an at-grade intersection with Sumney Road.

Here is the 1967 view.  The Sumney Road at-grade has been replace by an overpass.  This overpass leads to the Wright(Cerl) Covered Bridge.  However, the overpass no longer exists today.  The Sumney Road bridge was closed and torn down in 2006.  Because of low utilization - less than 100 cars a day - it was not replaced.

Exit 27 - Dunningsville is next.  At the time of the 1958 photograph, I am not sure if the road was open this far west or not. According to Jeff Kitsko, PA 519 to Bentleyville was under construction at this time.  There appears to be no at-grades on this section of highway.


Here's the Exit 27 area as it looked from up above in 1967.  The still operating Avalon Motor Hotel is located in the southwest quadrant of the interchange parallel to I-70.


Exit 25 - PA 519 - Eighty Four as it looked while under construction in the Summer of 1958. 

Exit 25 in 1967.  The partial cloverleaf interchange was replaced in 2014 with a diamond interchange.

The four lane highway that would connect Washington, PA to the Turnpike at New Stanton was being constructed to a temporary end at Zediker Station Road in August of 1958.  A temporary interchange/connection was built here but the overhead do not really give an idea how that connection took place.  You can see that grading work continued just west of Zediker Station Road.  And at the time of the photograph, Zediker Station was being realigned also.  The previously discussed PA 519 interchange is under construction in the lower right corner.

Finally - a look at about the same area in 1967.  Zediker Station Road goes under I-70 near the middle of the picture.  The south junction with Interstate 79 is the trumpet interchange.  I-79's interchange with US 40 is shown just south of that point.

These photographs show that in order to be part of the Interstate System - PA 71 needed a number of upgrades to the highway for it to be rechristened Interstate 70S.  The roadway would become Interstate 70 in 1964.

Strangely enough the 1959 and 1960 upgrades were really not enough to bring the highway to Interstate standards.  Because in June of 1963, Pennsylvania commissioned a firm to study the costs and benefits to "[modernize] the existing highway to interstate requirements within eight months."

The results of that study are unknown.  However, issues with the lack of interstate standards along with numerous safety concerns led PennDOT to study a new alignment of Interstate 70 in Washington and Westmoreland Counties in the 1960s and 1970s. That I will cover in a later blog post.