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.


Thursday, November 26, 2015

Aerial Photos of Breezewood 1958 and 1967

People have a love hate relationship with Breezewood, Pennsylvania.  It's either loved as a unique piece of America and road travel.  (Editor's note: In writing this entry, I couldn't find any article, blog post or webpage that says how wonderful Breezewood is.) Or it is hated, despised, or even boycotted.

This post isn't about my personal opinion of it. In the past five or six years, our family typically goes through Breezewood between 9pm and midnight on our way from Eastern North Carolina to Pittsburgh - and I have never experienced the notorious backups that people dislike so much.  But I digress.

Earlier this week, I came across an amazing website that features aerial photos of Pennsylvania from the late 1930s to the early 1970s.  It is called Penn Pilot - and is hosted by Penn State University.  Trust me, you can waste a whole day looking at this site.  It's a wonderful resource.  So one of my first looks was Breezewood to see if they have pictures of the evolution of the town.  Fortunately, I did luck out.

The first image below is of Breezewood in 1958.  The Interstate Era was in it's infancy.  The PA Turnpike System was still the pride of the Commonwealth, and a connection to Baltimore and Washington via Interstate 70 was in the very early planning stages (if at all).

The original turnpike alignment is still going strong.  The connection was solely with US 30.  However, if you expand the photo to full size, there are still some key pieces of Breezewood being the gateway and connection point from PA and the Midwest to Baltimore and DC can be seen.   PA 126 runs from US 30 - just west of the interchange - south out of the picture towards Maryland.  What I find interesting is the more modern design for the turning movement from 126 North to 30 East and eventually the Turnpike.  Breezewood was the Gateway to the South before Interstate 70 even arrived.

For reference, I-70 will eventually tie in between 126 and the original Breezwood interchange.  Also of note, sitting on the north side of US 30 between the interchange and 126, is the then recently opened Howard Johnson's Motor Lodge.  The Gateway Travel Plaza sits right below it.

Now let's fast forward to 1967.  The Interstate 70 connection has been open a couple of years and Breezewood was entering its heyday of being known as the "Town of Motels".

The turnpike was well underway in constructing a new 13.5 mile alignment.  This aerial shot shows the brief time period of how Interstate 70 connected to the old turnpike alignment.  Also, the US 30 intersection with the now defunct PA 126 has changed.  US 30 to the east has been twinned as it heads westwards to Everett.

Breezewood changed a lot in the nine years between photos.  The popular Post House opened in 1963 and sits just east of the 70/30 intersection.  The beloved Post House closed in 2004. (Editors Note: I stopped there at least twice in the 1990s on various college bus trips.) The Howard Johnson's added a new building.  And many many other motor lodges and motels have since opened.

So in 1967, Breezewood most likely looked something like this. 


Postcard from 1970 - Blown up photo via orangeroof.com
Of course nearly 50 years later, a lot of these motels have been re-branded, abandoned or even torn down.  The old alignment of the Turnpike is now an attraction for bicyclists, roadgeeks, and the adventurous.  And who knows what Breezewood will look like in the next 20 years. Yet one thing that hasn't and most likely will not change is that you will still have to experience the 2000 or so feet of the Breezewood Strip to get where you're going.


Sunday, November 08, 2015

A Drive Along (Part of) I-395

Got a chance this past Saturday to drive along Connecticut's I-395 from where the route joins the original Connecticut Turnpike, that is secretly designated (not signed) as CT 695 to where CT 2A leaves the interstate south of Norwich. I-395 is the first freeway to be given milepost-based exit numbers by the State of Connecticut (along with CT 2A and CT 695). The original numbers run from 77 to 100 and are those of the Connecticut Turnpike (up to 90) which start at the New York border The new numbers will run from 2 to 53. The state's plan is to convert the rest of its freeways over the next 10-20 years as part of exit sign replacement contracts. The I-395 project was split in two with the first section to be started that between I-95 and old Exit 88. Many photos have already been taken of signs along this section, check out Jay Hogan's I-395 Flickr Page.

Here are some of the photos taken of new exit signs and numbers north of Exit 88.

OLD EXIT 90 / NEW EXIT 35
I only got to take photos of this exit northbound. The new signs are ground-mounted, replacing overhead signs. The overheads are still in place with I-395 pull-through signage:

Here's the next overhead assembly with the new exit sign in the distance:
Here' a closeup view of the 1/2 Mile Sign:
The same situation approaching the exit ramp itself, old overhead with missing Exit sign and new sign ground-mounted beyond:
Hopefully, they'll cut back some brush and move the sign in front. They've also replace the exit signs after the off-ramp on SR 695, photos below.

OLD EXIT 89 / NEW EXIT 32
The first new signs I saw heading southbound were for the CT 14 exit. These photos show the typical new signage set-up for each interchange. Starting with the 1-Mile Advance Sign:
In addition to the new number on the exit tab, there is an additional tab above with the old exit number which will stay up for 2 years to acclimate motorists to the new numbering system. The 1/2 mile advance sign does not have the Old Exit tab:
In this case, the sign apparently is not finished with the bottom panel still needing to be installed. Between the 1-Mile Advance and the Exit signs at the interchange's off-ramp there are typically several auxiliary and blue informational signs with the new number. Here's an auxiliary for CT 14:
A blue services sign can be seen in the distance. The final signs are at the off-ramp itself:
Connecticut exit signs seem to feature larger exit tabs than most states. At the gore point the signs show both the new and old number, as with the 1-Mile sign the Old Exit tab will stay up for two years:
Similar signage for CT 14 is also installed northbound. Here's the progression as seen above, starting at the 1/2 mile advance sign:
Here's signage at the interchange itself:
With the new number/old number gore sign in the background.

OTHER SIGNS
With the new milepost numbers has come new mileposts which are posted every 2/10 of a mile with an I-395 shield and direction provided at the mile. Here's two examples, southbound:
And northbound:
New route shields, or reassurance markers have been placed following each exit, again southbound:
Here' with a route marker for CT 2A East where it runs concurrently with I-395 south of Norwich. And northbound:

SIGNS ALONG SR 695
In addition to I-395, CTDOT has started placing new signs on the section of the original Connecticut Turnpike that runs between I-395 and US 6, with Secret Route (SR) number 695. The signs have only been placed heading east toward US 6 as of now. Here's the 1/2 mile advance sign for Ross Road with new Exit 1 tab (the previous sign had no exit number):
Again, some pruning could be done to make the sign more visible. Here's the signage at the off-ramp:

SOME ADDITIONAL PHOTOS
Here's some additional photos taken mostly southbound of signs from the first phase of the project that have not appeared elsewhere online.
NEW EXIT 29 / OLD EXIT 88
The one mile advance sign southbound:
And the 1/2 mile advance sign:
NEW EXIT 28 / OLD EXIT 87
The one mile advance sign southbound:
NEW EXIT 24 / OLD EXIT 86
The 1/2 mile advance sign southbound:
In this case, the new sign hasn't been installed but the new Exit and Former Exit tabs have been placed on the existing sign.
NEW EXIT 14 OLD EXIT 82
The 1/2 mile advance sign southbound
And here's the signage at the exit itself, an overhead mixture of the old and new:
New numbers, old signs.
NEW EXIT 13 OLD EXIT 81
Here's the new 1/2 mile advance exit sign southbound:
 NEW EXIT 11 / OLD EXIT 80
Here's a shot northbound both of reassurance markers and new exit sign for Exit 13:
And finally, an exit sign that seems to be missing its exit tab: