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Showing posts from July, 2007

Toll roads likely to get gap funding after all

Mark Binker at the Greensboro News-Record snuck this into his blog earlier today:

The Senate just passed SB 1352, gap funding for the N.C. Turnpike authority. It's an $8 increase in the fee you pay for your automobile registration, to $36 for your run of the mill automobile, that will go to fund toll roads in the state.This money - about $52 million per fiscal year - will make up the gap between what the tolls produce in revenue and what the Turnpike Authority needs to pay on its bonds.The Senate passed the measure today and will vote again Monday. It then heads to the House.We might see NC 540's western extension in our lifetime after all.

NC 172's long-ago partner in crime

One of the interesting things about North Carolina is, almost to a T, any intersection at a very small angle (10 degrees or so) almost always indicates an old alignment of a roadway. I've noticed that NC 133 has one of these intersections just south of a bridge and a sharp curve about halfway between Leland and Southport, and assumed that the roadway used to continue straight ahead. So I decided to trace a route along this roadway, now called Plantation Road after the Orton Plantation located nearby, and lo and behold...

First, here is the intersection of 133 and Plantation. Notice how it's almost straight on with the northern stretch of 133 from the intersection, even though Plantation itself curves to the left to meet 133.

Follow Plantation south, and eventually you cross into land occupied by Sunny Point Military Ocean Terminal. Keep going south, and switch over to the Satellite view after the mapped road ends, and you'll come to this point where the road seems to be …

A Blue Ridge Parkway Journey

Yesterday, I visited an old friend, the North Carolina Mountains. I took a drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway. I took it from US 421 in Deep Gap (around mile 278) to VA 8 in the Rock Castle Gorge region (around Mile 170). It took about six hours to drive the 108 or so miles. Why because I stopped at a lot of the overlooks to hike or take photos. I took 209 photos on this trip. Here are some of the ones I liked the most.

The Cascades: There's a stop withing E.B. Jeffress State Park with a short hike to a waterfall simply known as 'The Cascades". It's a great spot for photos and to forget about life for awhile.


One of the great things about the Parkway are the vehicles that you find on it. Motorcycles are common place but so are classic cars.

View of Mt. Jefferson: Jefferson, NC is one of my favorite small towns in Ashe County. From the parkway, you are able to view the mountainous backdrop that shares its name.


The Lump: Is known for sweeping views of the foothills b…

Carolina Mudcats vs. Montgomery Biscuits 7/17/07

This past Tuesday, some friends from work and I went to watch the Carolina Mudcats play the Montgomery Biscuits. Within the roadgeek hobby, this may be one of the most hobby friendly stadiums there is as the Mudcats play in Five County Stadium. The stadium is located in the most eastern point of Wake County. And very close-by is Franklin, Nash, Johnston and Wilson Counties.

The Mudcats also use highway friendly terms for promoting their team. They call the new US 64 Knightdale Bypass the "Mudcats Expressway" and of course they just tell everyone to look for the giant watertower baseball.

Anyways, storms threatened most of the game but we were lucky enough not to get the worst of the weather until after the game. Here are a few shots.

See! The giant watertower baseball!

One of the things I like the most about Five County Stadium is that has a 'Field of Dreams' like quality to it. Something about going to watch the Mudcats on a lazy, muggy, summer evening that make…

The week that was...July 16-22

Another busy week away from the blog so here's a quick update on various headlines.

On Monday the 16th, the 'official' ground breaking for the next construction segment of US 311/ Future I-74 around High Point was held. This will carry the new freeway from Business I-85 across I-85 to Cedar Square Road in Randolph County. It should open in May 2011.

Not to be outdone by North Carolina, SCDOT announced their preferred corridor for the northern 30 mile segment of I-73. This will run from I-74 in Hamlet, NC to I-95 near Dillon. The corridor runs to the east of Bennettsville and runs between Clio and Blenheim.

Finally, because we're a big small town, us folks in Raleigh have been griping about the changes made to the I-40/I-540 interchange since the NC 540 has opened. The exit ramp which was once two lanes is now one lane. And of course, all of Wake County has e-mailed Mark Roberts at WRAL about it.

Meanwhile I went to the Mudcats game Tuesday night...photos to be added …

Three days in Texas (with two hours in Oklahoma)

Early Tuesday morning, I flew out of Raleigh to Houston for a three day trip through Texas with my boss.

Day 1: Houston to Austin

Route: IAH to Beltway 8 to US 59 to I-610 to South Oak Post Road to Alt US 90 to Gressner Road to US 59 to I-45 various streets in town including Washington Drive, I-10 to TX 71 to Loop 360 to I forget the special designation for the Highway 1 freeway to US 183 to MLK Blvd. to I-35 into downtown and then I-35 to Texas 71 to the hotel.

Notes:
The rental car area at IAH is like it's own space pod in the future. The shuttle buses have their own restricted exit to the rental car area.

Wow is how I would describe Houston's highways and traffic. One of my colleagues at work said Houston is a concrete jungle of roads, and that is very accurate. The skyline is very impressive.

The photo is on US 59 South heading into town.

A couple of things I guess there is some kind of Red/Blue header on the HOV exits in Houston? Or is that something else.

South and west of…

NC 540 open for business

NC 540 opened to traffic around 4:00 this afternoon -- at least, to most traffic. Access from both directions of I-40, as well as the continuation of the westbound I-540 lanes, was still blocked until about 5:30 as crews were painting lines and finishing up the last-minute preparations, so technically speaking the westbound section from I-40 to NC 54 was the last to open. However, all the ramps at the other three interchanges were open, so there was a bit of traffic already using the roadway before the last section was opened.

Here are some pictures (click for bigger images):


This is on the ramp to NC 540 from Davis Drive, just before a sharp curve to the right to intersect NC 540.


Along westbound NC 54 at the westbound onramp to NC 540. (No, 540 doesn't run to Apex yet, but it's signed that way because of the end at NC 55.)


Once on westbound 540 from NC 54, a long hill descends toward the Davis Drive interchange.


Southbound on the Davis Drive onramp where it splits to eastbound…

A full listing of NC Toll Projects and where they stand

An article in Friday's New Bern Sun Journal breaks down the status of the various proposed toll projects in North Carolina.

1. Triangle Expressway (Triangle Parkway & Western Wake Parkway)

Two toll parts. Part one: The Triangle Parkway - a 3.4 mile extension of NC 147 south and east to current NC 540 at Davis Drive. It's expected cost $110 million - $235 million. This section is the shortest toll project and could be open by 2010.

Part two: Western Wake Parkway - a 12.6 mile extension of NC 540 from NC 55 to Holly Springs. Estimated cost - $515 million - $930 million and could be open by 2011.

A request to cover a $20 million gap in funding for both projects is currently under debate in the NC General Assembly.

2. Garden Parkway (Gaston East-West Connector)

21.5 miles from I-485 near Charlotte-Douglas International Airport to I-85 west of US 321 in Gastonia. It is the longest and possibly most expensive of the toll projects. It will cost somewhere between $745 million and …

NC Legislature to debate toll funding

The issue of whether or not the state of North Carolina should help fund the $20 million gap for the Triangle Expressway toll project will take center stage within the NC General Assembly and Senate over the upcoming weeks.

In a WRAL-TV report Friday night, more detail was given on the upcoming legislative debate on toll financing. The North Carolina Turnpike Authority estimates that there is a $20 million gap in costs to built the highway and revenue they will receive in tolls.

If the measure isn't passed - lawmakers hope to have a decision made by July 16 -, the NCTA says the project - and as a result other projects like the Cape Fear Skyway - will be in jeopardy.
“Without the gap funding, the project certainly is in question,” said Steve DeWitt with the Turnpike Authority.

“There are other ways to do it, although they’re not quite as palatable. Private market, through a public-private partnership, is an option. It's not the best option for this state, but it is an option,” sa…

Privately funded interchange well underway on Carolina Bays Parkway

A new interchange along the Carolina Bays Parkway (SC 31) that is being built with private funds may open by year's end. The interchange which is about one mile south of the Parkway's giant intersection with SC 22 (Conway Bypass) is being funded by a group of four property owners that call themselves the 'Parkway Group'.

Although the cost of the interchange project has not been released, the group has invested $3 million in private money to preserve 305 acres of Tiger Bay which sits within the Lewis Ocean Bays Heritage Preserve, an environmentally sensitive area that borders much of the Parkway.

Local property owners had been lobbying for an interchange with the Carolina Bays Parkway since 2001 seeing that their area is close to two (SC 22 and SC 31) new major highways but with no direct access.

The interchange is being built to state standards and once completed the interchange and access roads will be absorbed into the state highway system.

Currently, the interchange w…

I-540...I mean NC 540 photos

Bob Malme, who has the uncanny knack of breaking transportation news, finding the key piece to a transportation puzzle, or being at the right place at the right time, was out and about this morning and happened upon the switch from I-540 to NC 540. All of Bob's photos are from the NC 55 Interchange.

What once said JCT FUTURE I-540 on NC 55 East is now JCT NC 540. Below, a photo I took a little over a month ago, before the designation change.

They are still covering up the 540 shield in this shot from Bob. But the change to NC has been made.

Finally, as mentioned in Brian's entry from yesterday, the exit numbers for 540 are in the process of being corrected also.

Although the angle doesn't show it well, the '66' has been pasted over the former '47'.

Stay tuned next week as NC 540, formerly I-540, may actually open.

For More:
I-540 getting a new name
An I-540 Preview

I-540 getting a new name

I read the headline, "New bit of Outer Loop renamed," in the paper this morning and thought nothing of it -- they were simply giving the western stretch of 540 a secondary name after some legislator or governor that had something to do with building the road. Right?

Well...
Days before the next stretch of Raleigh's Outer Loop is due to open for traffic, the state Department of Transportation is scrambling to give it a new name.

Workers this week began replacing red-and-blue Interstate 540 shields with black-and-white diamond signs to mark the new 4.5-mile stretch of six-lane freeway as N.C. 540.

"It's going to look like an interstate, and it's going to drive like an interstate, but it's just going to be called N.C. 540," said Kevin Lacy, state traffic engineer.

The 540 identity crisis stems from a state Turnpike Authority plan to build the 18-mile Triangle Expressway through RTP and western Wake County. The toll road would overlap with part of the new 5…

SC to release preferred corridor of the Northern Section of I-73 July 19

SCDOT announced Monday that it will unveil the preferred corridor of the northern segment of I-73 at the Marlboro Civic Center on July 19. The northern segment of I-73 will run from US 74 (Future I-74) in North Carolina to Interstate 95 near Dillon. The length of this half of I-73 is about 30 miles.

Story:
Preferred Route of I-73's northern project to be unveiled ---WBTW-TV
Commission set to reveal northern leg ---Myrtle Beach Sun News

Commentary:
Of course, this announcement occurs less than a week after I updated the South Carolina I-73 page. (which I probably won't update again until the end of the year) Anyways, it will be very interesting to see which route will be chosen, including one that could lead to a possible I-73/I-95 multiplex.

I-540 exit numbers to be correct on opening day

When the signs went up along I-540 a few months ago, I and a couple others noticed something strange: the highest exit number on the freeway was 50, at the NC 54 interchange. This was a problem because every estimate for the total length of the freeway was between 65 and 70 miles, so where did the missing 15 miles go?

Leave it to Bob Malme, who dropped DOT a line to ask them where the missing mileage went, to save the day. As posted on seroads last night:
Based on the response I got, here's the new (correct) exit numbers:
Exit 69 NC 54 (Was 50)
Exit 68 Davis Drive (Was 49)
Exit 66A/B NC 55 (Was 47A/B)

Looks like then they were about 19 miles off due to the GIS Unit's error.

The spokesman indicated the signing section was in the process of updating the numbers. She also said NCDOT could not guarantee, however, that these numbers may change again, especially if the toll road is built and the Turnpike Authority wants their own numbering scheme for at least the western half.
At least th…