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Showing posts from June, 2007

Chatham and Lee County Trip

Billy Riddle is in the area this weekend visiting relatives with his fiancee. He stopped down to Raleigh and we headed on a brief afternoon trip. And came across two pleasant surprises.

Route: I-440, US 1, NC 42, NC 902, NC 87, US 64, US 1, I-440.

Accomplishments: Billy gained three counties (Lee, Chatham, and Moore). I added mileage to NC 42 and 87 along with clinching NC 902.

Notes:
The US 421 Sanford Bypass is still under construction and I now know that the US 421 interchange with the US 1/15/501/NC 87 freeway will be a cloverleaf with collector/distributor ramps along US 421. US 421 will run over US 1.

We soon got onto NC 42 West which is a rolling highway through fields, farms, and forests towards Pottery Country. Not that far along, we were very surprised to see a covered bridge built just north of where NC 42 crosses Pocket Creek. This is a recently built covered bridge on a small offshoot of former NC 42. It appears some final landscaping and clean-up is needed. I am guess…

Wilmington Officials to Lobby State for Skyway Money

Officials from Wilmington's Transportation Advisory Committee are headed to Raleigh hoping to make the Cape Fear Skyway a step closer to a reality. The goal: persuading the North Carolina General Assembly to fund some if not all of the projected $439 million funding shortfall for the proposed $1 billion project.

The funding gap could be solved with a 40 year annual allocation of $39 million from the state's budget.

Backers of the Cape Fear Skyway aren't the only toll road proponents hoping to get some help from the General Assembly. The Raleigh-area Triangle Expressway needs an estimated $18 million annual investment from the state.

Currently, the General Assembly and the NC Senate have not agreed on let alone pass a new budget. A stop-gap funding bill has been passed allowing the government to continue to operate until July 31.

Funding for the Skyway may not occur in this session. However, if the budget includes funding for the Triangle Expressway, supporters of the Skywa…

Durham Bulls Game - 05/08/2007

We're not always going to have roadtrips or transportation commentary here at the blog.

In May, a group of us from the office went over to the DBAP (formally known as the Durham Bulls Athletic Park) for a game between the Durham Bulls and the Tidewater Tides. The DBAP has been open for over ten years, and is one of the finest ballparks in the minor leagues. I've gone to a number of games in Durham when I lived in Raleigh a few years ago. This was my first game at the ballpark since 2004.

Now unfortunately, the day had threatened rain but it wasn't until the game started that a steady shower began. So the pictures aren't the greatest. But it was great to be back at the ballpark, and it was just another thing that makes me glad to be back in North Carolina.

This is looking back at the main grandstand from the leftfield corner. Most of the park is not under cover.



A number of views of the "Blue Monster" and a replica of the famous bull that was in the movie &q…

I-785 first "signed" nine years ago Friday.

This is where Google news alerts really come in handy. It appears that nine years ago tomorrow, there was a ceremony 'dedicating' US 29 from Greensboro to Danville as Interstate 785.

From the opening of a 1998 Greensboro News & Record Article:
"Say goodbye to U.S. 29. Say hello to Interstate 785. In a name change billed as an enhancement of "economic development," Reps. Virgil Goode of Virginia and Richard Burr of North Carolina will speak today at a ceremony marking the designation of U.S. 29 as part of the interstate highway system. It begins at 10:30 a.m. at the Piedmont Triad Visitors..."A few things have changed in the nine years. I'd love to say US 29 has now become fully integrated as Interstate 785, but that's not the item that is different today than nine years ago. Here's the change....North Carolina U.S. Representative Richard Burr is now North Carolina U.S. Senator Richard Burr.

Other than that, there are a few "F…

Is the Brunswick County I-74 toll proposal dead in the water?

Along with the recent news on the Cape Fear Skyway, it appears that other possible toll projects in North Carolina are in the news. The proposal to build an 18 mile toll segment of I-74 in Brunswick County was also studied by Wilbur Smith Associates. And like the Cape Fear Skyway, there's not much good news.

David Joyner, who is the executive director of the North Carolina Turnpike Authority (NCTA), told the Brunswick Beacon that tolls would only generate revenue for 42% of the highway's projected $378 million cost. If the highway would be open by 2015, the tolls for the entire 18 miles could be $2.15. In 2030, it is believed that the toll would be $3.15. The tolls are considered the amount that would generate the most possible revenue.

The remaining money would have to come from other funding sources.

Why the skepticism on the proposal? Well, the study points to a toll free US 17 which would parallel the Interstate to the east. The study, which isn't as detailed as m…

South Independence Blvd. in Charlotte Renamed

A section of Charlotte's South Independence Blvd. has recently been renamed to Charlottetown Avenue. The section of road from Kenilworth Ave. to East 7th Street will bear the new name.

Originally the state's first urban highway, Independence Blvd. has seen numerous alterations to its routing over the past two decades. What was once West, South, and East Independence Boulevard has been broken into and renamed Carson Blvd., Stonewall St., and now Charlottetown Ave. The only part of the highway to retain the 'Independence' name is the section of US 74 east of Uptown.

The name change was requested by the Charlotte Department of Transportation to eliminate confusion with differing directions with the Independence Freeway. Local property owners submitted the Charlottetown Ave. name.

Source: Charlotte Observer

Roundabouts drive Malta, NY traffic debate

One of the more highly debated road construction projects in New York State's Capital Region over recent years was the construction of five roundabouts along NY State Route 67 near the I-87 Northway in Malta. In an effort to improve traffic flow in this growing section of Saratoga County, and in anticipation of future growth (such as the AMD chip fab plant that is supposed to be built nearby), NYSDOT had decided to replace existing traffic lights with a series of roundabouts. It is designed to be faster and safer, and the results in the 10 months since the roundabout construction was completed echoes those principles. According to a June 27, 2007 article in the Albany Times Union, traffic times have cut down to an average of 2 minutes per trip as compared to an average of 6 minutes per trip before the roundabouts were put into place. Accidents are also down.

The complaint that many have with roundabouts has to do with navigation. People driving around the roundabouts in Malta …

I-88 Collapse One Year Later

To read our entire coverage of the I-88 collapse, use this link.

Slightly after daybreak on the rainy morning of June 28, 2006, from opposite directions David Swingle and Patrick O'Connell headed towards mile 37 on Interstate 88 not knowing that their paths would cross in the most unfortunate of situations. For two days, heavy and consistent rains had fallen across much of Upstate New York with some locations receiving over a foot. The rains had already caused heavy flooding in many towns that bordered the Delaware River. Throughout the area, waters were rising on the Delaware and surrounding streams that would bring record crests in places like Binghamton, Unadilla, Walton, and Oneonta.

The heavy rains had saturated the ground and runoff along with the persistent rain had swollen numerous streams, rivers and creeks in the area, including Carrs Creek that feeds into the Delaware near Unadilla. Carrs Creek crosses under Interstate 88 just south of the Exit 10 interchange.

Swingle…

Consultants to NCTA - Cape Fear Skyway better than other proposals

In a recent editorial of the Wilmington Star News, there was this little tidbit.
But consultants told the Turnpike Authority Wednesday that, compared with other proposals it's considering, the Cape Fear Skyway "looks like a pretty good project."That's very interesting. The editorial discussed what they perceive as a need for the bridge to handle the rapidly growing area. (Which I do agree with.) They do express the disappointment that the suggested $1.75 toll will cover about 55 percent of the costs.

I wonder if the report from Wilbur Smith Associates to the NCTA will be made public that would be an interesting read.

Western extension of I-540 delayed by a couple weeks

Bruce Siceloff says there are a few more weeks of delays at the west end of I-540 in the pipeline:

Scratch those holiday plans. The next 4-mile leg of I-540 will not open for the benefit of Research Triangle Park commuters until some time after Independence Day. Phillip Johnson, the DOT engineer overseeing the $102 million project, now hopes to get traffic rolling by July 11 or 12.

Johnson had said earlier that the freeway would open for traffic before next week's July 4 holiday. He said Wednesday that the contractor still has too much work to do -- guardrails, trafic signals at the interchanges, pavement markings -- to meet that schedule.

"I feel very confident we'll open it during that second week in July," Johnson said.
That would still bring the project in on schedule, more or less. Part of it was supposed to be finished July 1, and the other part August 1.

The 2007 Down East RPO

The Down East (NC) Rural Transportation Planning Organization recently published their 2009-2015 TIP Draft Prioritization Submittal.

You can see it here.

Couple of things I saw of interest:
A request for a feasibility study of an NC 306 bridge over the Neuse River. This would replace an existing ferry.A request for a feasibility study for a mid-island bridge to the Bouge Banks. This would connect NC 24 to NC 58 (between Emerald Isle to Atlantic Beach). There are already two crossings from the mainland to the Bouge Banks.Widen and resurface NC 307 in Vandemere - One word "Why?"
They also back the proposed and planned US 17 New Bern Bypass and the US 70 bypasses of Northern Carteret and Havelock.

Cape Fear Skyway Bridge tolls would only cover half the cost

It appears that tolls collected on the Cape Fear Skyway, a high rise bridge carrying traffic over the Cape Fear River between the Fort Fisher Ferry and the Cape Fear Memorial Bridge, will cover for slightly half of the bridge's estimated $1 billion cost. The other source of funding would come from an annual $39 million in some form of state, federal, or otherwise funding for 40 years.

The 9.4 mile bridge project if opened in 2015 would cost motorists a $1.75 toll to cross the bridge. The Skyway would connect US 17 in Brunswick County to Wilmington at Independence Blvd. and Carolina Beach Road. Proponents of the project suggest that the Skyway will be an alternative to the existing Cape Fear Memorial Bridge, a drawbridge that carries much of the area's traffic from Brunswick County in and out of Wilmington.

A traffic and revenue study by Wilbur Smith and Associates indicates that because the Skyway would not include a large time savings compared to the existing Cape Fear Memor…

The week that was...June 18th-23rd

It's been a quiet week here at the blog, Brian's in Columbus covering the NHL Draft, Doug's in Rochester, NY for various functions; however, I'm here at home.

So here are just a few personal items and news snippets from this past week.

First...and you may have to read it a few times...but Brian UPDATED! Yes, Brian has added an I-85 Exit List and revised the I-540 History Page on Wake County Roads.

I've sat stuck on a South Carolina Update as I have been helping Mike Roberson with his latest NCRoads.com Annex update.

Now for the news:

There was a meeting in Mecklenburg County on the planned 2013 widening of I-485 in Pineville and Ballentyne. The widening will be to six lanes vs. the current four lane configuration. However, the DOT concedes that they are going to have to add additional lanes not long after that.

WVDOH finally awarded the bid on the King Coal Highway Extension in Bluefield. The project had been slightly delayed due to a comedy of errors in the biddi…

Seagrove and the Uwharries

Took a drive to the heart of the state Saturday to Pottery Country to get birthday gifts for Mom and Erin.

Route:
I-540, I-40, NC 147, I-85, US 220, US 220 Business, US 220, NC 705, US 220A, NC 24/27, NC 109, Various Secondary Roads through Uwharrie National Forest until I arrived at NC 49 near Denton, NC 49, US 220, I-85, I-40, I-540.

Notes:
It's hard to believe that a road like this was built as a "Super-Two" fifty years ago.

Now only to get photos of how what is now I-40/85 looked as a two lane limited access US 70 in the 1950s.

Seagrove is the heart of Pottery Country. And within a mile drive from the US 220 freeway to the NC Pottery Center and Museum there had to be at least a dozen different pottery shops. The NC Pottery Center features the work of various local potteries and others throughout the state. There is also a $2 admission to tour the museum which shows numerous samples of work. It is amazing to see some of the creations and how they are made.


After seeing …

South Central Virginia Trip

Took a nice drive into South Central Virginia to get a few missing counties and found a few surprises.

Route: US Bike 1, US 158 Business (Oxford), US 158, US 158 Business (Henderson), NC 39, VA SR 719, VA SR 825, secondary NC Route, US 15, US 58/VA 49, US 15/VA 49, VA 49, VA 47, US 460 Business (Pamplin City), US 460, VA 122 Business (Bedford), VA 43, US 29 Business (Altavista), VA SR 668, VA SR 640, VA 40, VA SR 603, US 501, I-85, US 70, NC 98, NC 50.

Accomplishments: Clinched Appomattox and Bedford Independent City. Completed US 501 in NC, Clinched NC 39, along with adding new mileage for VA 49, VA 47, US 460, VA 43, and US 501 in VA.

Notes:

I've mentioned before that I would enjoy biking or in this case driving the various bike routes in North Carolina. The thought is that many of these routes follow secondary roads and there may be a lot of good finds along there. In Southern Vance County, that idea was justified. The tiny crossroads of Grissom has example of location signage …

Seneca Nation seeks $2.16 million for Thruway use

According to a recent article in the Albany Times Union, the Seneca Nation is seeking $2.16 million from New York State for the section of the New York Thruway that runs through the Senecas' Cattaraugus Reservation, near Silver Creek, NY. This is due to an ongoing dispute between the government of the State of New York and the Seneca Nation of Indians over taxation to non-Indians over products (such as gasoline and cigarettes) purchased within reservation lands.

The bill, which covers the time period between April 14 and June 30, was sent to Thruway Authority Chairman John Buono with a demand for payment in ten days. Whether the Thruway Authority will pay the bill or not is yet to be determined. The $2.16 million figure is based per vehicle and calculated using the authority's official figures on its Web site, with the total number of cars being 28,000 per day.

The first bill does not include historic penalties or costs for damages to native lands. The tribe plans in the n…

Local Sign Find - 6

A few Saturdays ago, I found a few displaced I-90 and I-787 button copy shields in front of someone's home on NY 157 near Thacher State Park, which is a few miles southeast of Altamont. I was in the area so I could hike the Indian Ladder Trail, which runs along the crest of the Helderberg Escarpment at Thacher State Park. Here are the shields, which I believe to have once been part of overhead guide signs.

I-85 to get a makeover

Finally, a section of I-85 with pavement that's nearly fifty years old is going to get a new coat of asphalt later this year, according to this story from WRAL.
The 25 mile I-85 corridor that runs from the Vance/Granville line to the North Carolina/Virginia border has received no money for a major pavement overhaul since it was built. The DOT says the mostly rural section of highway never made it to the top of a priority list.

Help is on the way, however.

Planners just put together a $40 million spending plan. Of that, $30 million will pay for a complete pavement replacement for five miles near Henderson, and the remaining 20 miles to the border will get a new top layer that should give about 10 years of smoother sailing.

NCDOT engineers say they could start the repairs as soon as October. The work will take at least two years.
This section of I-85 has been at or near the top of every "worst roads in the area" list for at least ten years, so it's about time it was fixed. …

Down to Fayetteville to check on NC 162

Brian and I took a nice trip down to Fayetteville with the hope to see the new NC 162. Well more on that later.

Route: I-440, I-40, US 421, NC 82, US 13, I-295, US 401, US 401 Business, NC 87, US 301/Business I-95, Elk Road, NC 162 (for the 1/8th a mile it was open), more Fayetteville surface streets to NC 59, NC 162 to Camden Road then turned around again on NC 162 to Bingham Road, US 401, US 401 Business, Owen Drive, NC 87, I-95, US 301, NC 50, NC 210, I-40, I-440.

Accomplishments: NC 82 clinched and clinched what pretty much is opened of NC 162 along with what will become NC 162.

Notes: Past signage in Erwin lead to speculation whether or not NC 82 ended at NC 217 or was multiplexed with it to NC 217's Northern Terminus at US 421/NC 55. Well NC 82 West does end with NC 217 North at US 421/NC 55. New signs put up since I last went through the area in May 2006 reflect this.


NC 82 actually has a unique alignment. It has a handful of turns onto different roads making the drive not …