Wednesday, August 29, 2007
The trip (from Gastonia, NC) - US 321, I-40, US 70, NC 114, I-40, US 221, US 70, NC 80, NC 226A, NC 197/TN Secondary 395, I-26, US 74, I-85.
A few notes on the way down. Clearing and grading has begun on what will be the I-74/US 311 freeway interchange with I-85 near High Point. A long way from finished but nice to see things moving along there.
My friend Steven went along for the NC 80 ride and our first stop was an abandoned truss bridge he located off of Hardin Road. The surprise was that a number of sections of the bridge have collapsed. It appears that this bridge has sat abandoned since the 1960s.
This is definitely a site I would recommend exploring with at least one other person with you.
There wasn't much of anything eventful on US 321 or US 70 or NC 114 (except for trying to figure out what the exact point of that designation is...conclusion: there isn't)
Got back on I-40 to Marion where we took 221 to get to highway 70 west to NC 80.
NC 80 is a great twisty drive from Lake Tahoma up to the Blue Ridge Parkway. Since I was driving, I didn't get any photos showing what the drive was like. However, we did stop at a small Baptist church in one of the turns.
Below - an example of how curvy NC 80 can be.
It never fails in the number of trips Steven and I have made over the years into the mountains that it rains. Either, we run into a mountain shower (like this day) or come through right after a thunderstorm (2003 & this day), it never fails. The ride up NC 80 to the pass was off and on showers. However, it gave a great backdrop to where the Parkway crosses NC 80. We're at about 3350' above sea level at this point.
Below - looking back down NC 80 towards Lake Tahoma.
I just thought these clouds were awesome.
Now down, the mountain wasn't as bad as going up. Not long after, we came across Still Fork Creek which provided these great views.
The next stop was the small village of Micaville. There's not much to Micaville - this general store (which our NC mountains are full of...each unique to oneself) - a church - post office - and a few other homes.
Now north of Micaville. NC 80 gets even more twisty. It was a treat to drive. Fortunately, the sun had come out from this point and in the small community of Kona, I spotted this church off a side road.
When I am out in the mountains or in the Eastern part of the state along the farms, I always wonder who all and how many go to these tiny churches, and what are their services like.
From there, we wound our way to the end of NC 80 then along NC 226A - NC 226, and 197 into Tennessee. We took a few secondary roads into Erwin, stopped got a bite to eat at Sonic and then headed down I-26 towards Asheville and eventually back towards Charlotte. As you head East (actually south) on I-26 before the NC/TN line there is a scenic viewpoint on the Tennessee side. Steven, who isn't a fan of the Interstates, commented "now this is one gorgeous highway."
When you have views like above, it's not hard to feel that way.
Saturday, August 04, 2007
But a partnership became the prime money option for the Triangle Expressway after the legislature ended its session late Thursday night without providing seed money to allow the turnpike authority to float construction bonds for the project.This, ladies and gentlemen, is why it's impossible to live-blog the General Assembly. Just to recap: we've gone from a passed Senate bill, to that bill being rejected by the House, to a few changes being made that ensured passage through the House, to that new bill being rejected by the Senate, and the Senate adjourning shortly thereafter. Confused much? Welcome to North Carolina.
In the waning hours of the session, the House passed a bill that would have provided $20 million from the general fund, but that measure was politically unpopular with the Senate, which didn't consider it before adjourning. That kills chances for state seed money until the legislature reconvenes for a "short session" in May.
Thursday, August 02, 2007
The resurfacing project, to be done by S.T. Wooten Corp., will be from Wade Avenue (Exit 289) to milemarker 302, west of Jones Sausage Road (Exit 303).
Work can begin after Sept. 4 with completion set for August 2008.
Work will conducted at night and during some weekends.
Below is the original post from about ten minutes before the new funding bill passed the House:
Yesterday, the toll road financing bill hit a roadblock (ha, ha, what a pun) in the state House.
A western Wake County turnpike project faces up to a two-year delay -- and at least an $80 million markup on its price tag -- after legislative leaders late Wednesday appeared to abandon a last-ditch attempt to find seed money for the proposed toll road.One interesting note at the very bottom of that article is that the Turnpike Authority has the ability to pursue public-private partnerships to finance and build the road. I doubt that they'd want to do it on the small-scale projects that they're considering building, but it is an option to be considered in the near future.
With the scheduled end of the legislative session looming today, a top House leader said it would be up to Wake County legislators to come up with $20 million in recurring seed money for the Triangle Expressway, an 18.9 mile toll road from Research Triangle Park to Holly Springs, extending the Interstate 540 Outer Loop into western and southern Wake.
"I'll grab the handle and help them pull up the bucket, but I'm leaving it up to them to come up with a solution," said Rep. Nelson Cole, the Reidsville Democrat and chairman of the appropriations subcommittee on transportation.
Cole stepped away from the issue after Senate leaders gave a chilly reception to one suggested source for the seed money -- the state highway maintenance fund. Wake County legislators said they would continue to hunt for money to rescue the project, but with time ticking down on the session, success appeared unlikely.
That means up to a two-year delay, said David Joyner, executive director of the N.C. Turnpike Authority. Unless the legislature is called in for a special session on transportation issues, the next opportunity to pump state dollars into the Wake toll road would be the "short session" in May.