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Showing posts from August, 2009

Hey, what's that Interstate doing in my backyard?

You know this story was gonna happen. We've seen it with the Greensboro Loop, and now with the recent opening of part of the Charlotte Outer Loop - a story like this pops up again.

Residents in Northwestern Mecklenburg County are surprised that Interstate 485 is in their backyard!

The homeowner, who moved into his home in 2003, is shocked that the six lane freeway is only 30 yards from his backyard. When he bought the home, he knew I-485 was coming, but he was told that it would be about a half mile away.

The resident contacted NCDOT asking for a sound wall, but since the subdivision was planned and built after the initial I-485 plans were made public in 1992, NCDOT is not obligated to put up the noise and visual barriers.

NCDOT will do it...if the neighborhood can come up with $1 million. Guess it's time for a lot of bake sales, garage sales, and lemonade stands.

OR a lot of dense foliage being bought by the residents of that subdivision.

Story: Homeowners: We didn't know I-…

North Myrtle Beach Connector to open Thursday

The North Myrtle Beach Connector - a four lane parkway from Main St. in North Myrtle Beach running to the Garden Parkway - will officially open to traffic Thursday after a ribbon cutting ceremony.

The $85 million project began in 2005. It did run $15 million over budget as a result of increasing material costs.

At one time, there was talk of the North Myrtle Beach connector becoming Interstate 174 - when SC 31 is finally connected to the proposed Interstate. Nothing in the article reads that the connector will be a future Interstate let alone any state designation.

I'll be in North Myrtle Beach in two weeks, and will be sure to check the new highway out.

Story Link:
North Myrtle Beach is ready to connect ---Myrtle Beach Sun News

SC: I--73 ROW acquistion to begin later this year

With a recently held public information meeting for right-of-way acquisition, SCDOT inches closer to construction of Interstate 73.

The right-of-way process is set to begin later this year, and in Dillon County - nearly 120 properties will need to be purchased for the right of way.

The right-of-way process along with the permitting process for Interstate 73 is the next step to actual construction of the route. Currently, SCDOT is looking to get funding from various sources to construct six miles of I-73 from I-95 south to US 501 near Latta.

SCDOT with the help of the North Eastern Strategic Alliance is attempting to acquire $60 million in stimulus funding to build the six mile segment.

Story link:
I-73 acquisition plans for Dillon County ---SCNOW.com

An Eastern North Carolina Ramble

Yesterday was the first official roadtrip with the new camera. Two weeks ago, I bought a Canon Rebel XSi. I'm enjoying it thoroughly so far!

Joe came up from Wilmington for this ride through the Northeastern Part of the state.

Route: I-540 - US 64, US 64 Business, US 264A, NC 33, US 17, NC 308, NC 11/42, NC 111, US 264, I-540.

For the entire flickr set over 80 photos: Go Here.

The first stop was a walk around Bailey, NC which the main part of town sits on the opposite side of the tracks from US 264A. There is a great old abandoned Feed Mill here.





Bailey is home to a short NC 581 truck route because of a railroad underpass on NC 581 that is only 8'6" high.



Outside of Wilson on US 264A - Was an unbelievable old gas station ' Save On Gas'. The station has most likely been abandoned for years. But fortunately, the old sign and some of the neon tubing is still there.



I'd love to see how that sign looked lit up at night.





The next stop was the town of Farmville, and we …

Freeway Signing in Greensboro: The Saga Continues

Today's Raleigh N&O's Road Worrier column is devoted to driver confusion caused by the re-signing along Greensboro freeways due to I-40 being put back on its old alignment:

http://www.newsobserver.com/news/story/1660986.html

In the article an NCDOT traffic engineer, Kelvin Jordan, admits the I-40 East interchange with I-73 on the west side of town is confusing with those needing to stay on I-40 having to exit the main highway. However, since the interchange was designed when I-40 was to use the Loop, it's understandable. He also says that NCDOT is considering removing the Business 85 designation through Greensboro in the future as well. From the article:
"Getting through Greensboro will be easier now, Jordan said, with just one I-40 and no Business 40.But DOT may never finish trying to untangle Greensboro's Urban Loop.There are more plans to simplify markers at the three main approaches to the city. And there's still the confusion of two freeways called 85. …

Visiting Road Projects in The Neighborhood

Since I've been concentrating efforts to chronicle the building of I-74 in SE NC and the re-signing of the Greensboro Loop over the past year, I have not focused on NCDOT and other road projects basically going on in my back yard. There are three, two if you count by contract number. These are the replacing of bridges along Garrett Road just south of US 15/501. The widening of 15/501 and bridge replacement over the New Hope Creek, and the building of a roundabout at the Durham headquarters for Blue Cross/Blue Shield of NC.

1. Garrett Road Bridge Replacements-This has been going on over the past year. Two temporary bridges and roads connecting them were created so the old bridges could be demolished and new bridges built. The new bridges have opened to traffic over the past few weeks. Here's a look at the construction area heading north on Garrett:
The cleared area on the right was where the temporary road/bridge was located, traffic then went to the left of the other bridge maki…

I-485 Hot Potato - Who wants it?

It's our favorite subject at the blog (ok so it's mine - Bob takes care of the I-73 debacle in Greensboro) - but it's another round of the Interstate 485 hot potato game!

This time folks at the Mecklenburg-Union Metropolitan Planning Organization (MUMPO) have basically told Governor BevPerdue that they don't care about her campaign promise to complete the Interstate 485 loop, the plan to widen and upgrade Independence Blvd. will move forward.

This happened when again the NCDOT said that if the Independence project goes first, I-485 will be delayed.

MUMPO members would have none of that.

"I don't know why we should bite on this false choice,” said Charlotte Mayor Pro Tem Susan Burgess. “We need to finish Independence as we've been planning for 30 years."

Burgess compared the pressure from Raleigh is similar to "...asking a parent to choose their favorite child."

Weddington Mayor Nancy Anderson would have none of it either, "This is not an opti…

I-73 in Virginia clears a legal hurdle

Though it is years away from even construction, Interstate 73 in Virginia - from Roanoke to the NC state line - appears to have cleared a significant legal challenge.

U.S. District Court Judge James Turk has denied Virginians for Appropriate Roads complaint on the environmental studies of the future Interstate. One of their key objections is that the Virginia Department of Transportation prepared an environmental study of the road based on the entire route being built at once, not in various stages/segments that will be done of a lengthy period of time.

Virginians for Appropriate Roads (VAR) argued that not enough of the study was focused on upgrading US 220 to Interstate standards. Upgrading and improving, US 220 was the preferred choice for VAR.

VDOT had argued that when I-73 was created in 1991 legislation. That Congress' intent was to build a new highway as a faster and safer means of transportation in the area. VDOT said that improving and upgrading US 220 would not have th…

NCDOT Announces 'New Exit Numbers' in Greensboro

Another press release that may raise more questions than it answers from NCDOT was placed online this afternoon (8/20): https://apps.dot.state.nc.us/pio/releases/details.aspx?r=2877

"Motorists traveling on Interstates 40 and 73 in GuilfordCounty can expect to see new signs and mile markers.Last summer, the N.C. Department of Transportation decided to reroute I-40 traffic from the Greensboro Western Urban Loop back to I-40 Business based on citizen comments.The department has started replacing the following signs:Changing the green I-40 Business signs back to the blue I-40 signs;Re-signing the exits along I-40 as Exit 212 (I-40/73) to Exit 227 (I-40/85);Re-signing the exits along I-73 as Exit 103 (I-73/40 interchange) to Exit 96 (I-73/U.S. 220 interchange); and Rerouting U.S. 421 to run concurrently with I-73 and parts of I-85.The I-85 exit signs will remain the same."
See the URL for the entire release and access to a correct(!) map of the new exit signs and designations for a…

Broken Record Time: NC looks at tolling I-95 (again)

It seems like every year for the past decade, a story about NCDOT looking at the possibility of tolling Interstate 95 comes out. The local news outlets pick it up, and you have a reporter in an orange vest asking motorists what they feel about the idea. The story dies until it comes up again the following year.

And now that ground has been broken on the state's first toll road - guess what highway story is in the news again? Tolling I-95.

It's the trial balloon that never lands!

Some background (because we haven't covered this issue here at the blog, yet):

Interstate 95 is the backbone of the East Coast - and most of its traffic through the Tar Heel State is through traffic. The highway is four lanes throughout - and a significant stretch of highway dates to the early 1960s if not earlier.

NCDOT officials admit and have plans to widen the highway to a minimum of six lanes, but like many other states - they don't have the funding. So tolling the route has been consider…

SC Officials look at new ways to secure I-73 funding

A conversation last week between S.C. State Representative Alan Clemmons and Horry County Council Chairwoman Liz Gilland may lead to a new avenue for funding for the building of Interstate 73.

At a meeting held at Coastal Carolina University, Clemmons was discussing the six mile stretch of Interstate 73 from I-95 eastwards to US 501 south of Latta. (This will most likely be the first stretch of Interstate 73 constructed.) Clemmons was discussing that the $300 million project will be the only project that SCDOT is asking for $300 million of Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) discretionary grants out of the 2008 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act.

The $300 million is the maximum that can be awarded to a project out of the $1.5 billion long-term road project TIGER fund. If approved, construction on this six mile stretch could begin soon.

Gilland asked Clemmons if a Horry County request for $30 million of TIGER Funds for upgrading SC 22 to Interstate grade …

Would/Could the Gaston MPO be the determining factor for the Garden Parkway

It's been listed as their top transportation priority for Gaston County for nearly a decade. But could the organization that has listed the Garden Parkway as #1 on their Long Range Transportation Planning goals be the most important factor in determining if the proposed controversial toll road becomes a reality?

Apparently so.

The Gaston MPO has long been supportive of the project. However, recently revelations on how the project has been built has caused some concern for those on the 13 member panel.

One of the biggest 'red flags' was the announcement that the highway would be built in two segments. From I-485 near Charlotte-Douglass International Airport to US 321 south of Gastonia. And then later, the remainder of the highway from US 321 to I-85 near Bessemer City.

Opponents of the highway, point to the traffic that will be dumped on US 321 and northwards to I-85 through Gastonia, specifically the York-Chester Historic District. This development does have some members…

End of the line for Kennywood Park's Turnpike

If you grew up in Pittsburgh, like I did, every spring it was time for the school picnic at Kennywood Park. And as you wind down the hill from the ticket gate, through the tunnel underneath Route 837, and formally entered the park. The first thing you always notice was the big 'Gulf' Oil Gasoline sign, the replica Gulf station, and the sounds of motorized cars meandering through a patch of shade trees.

Depending on the when you visited,those little cars that took forever to climb up the hills on the concrete roadway were either vintage cars of the 60s or open air roadsters from the 1920s.

It was the 'Turnpike'.

It was the ride as a child you couldn't wait to actually be allowed to 'drive'. You were beyond the cars in Kiddie Land. You were bored of the 'Auto Race'. The 'Turnpike' was real cars...real driving. On a 'real' road. Or at least it sure seemed like that to a seven year old.

It's the ride, where you were the driver, …

What's this?!? A Wake County Roads Update?

Brian LeBlanc has updated Wake County Roads with a total site overhaul. The site also has a new web address: http://www.wakecountyroads.com. Go visit and bug him to do more updates!

No particular place to go

A good road trip doesn't have to be 30 hours of non-stop cross country driving or with a particular destination in mind.

Sometimes, a very good road trip is right in your backyard and without a map - just by going on a turn here this road looks good without any maps.

And yesterday that was exactly what I did. Fellow blogger Brian LeBlanc and I roamed around some of the counties east of Raleigh on back roads and secondary roads, forgotten US highways, and the Interstate. What we saw were old corner stores, small North Carolina towns, and an old road that used to be pretty important.

For the entire set on flickr - go here.

The first stop is in Wake County - at the intersection of Poole and Smithfield Roads - this old corner store.

Eastern Wake County is not an area I get to explore much - and there seems to be a number of great old rural buildings and general stores out here. A few miles down pool road is a now abandoned lakehouse at Lake Myra.

After hitting a number of backroads and s…

Ground breaks on "New Era of North Carolina Transportation"

Dignitaries break ground on the Triangle Expressway

At about 10:35 this morning, the toll road era of North Carolina transportation officially began. The ground breaking for the 18.8 mile Triangle Expressway ushers in a new and controversial era of road construction in the state.

The ground breaking ceremony was held at the current end of NC 540 at NC 55 near Apex.

"This marks a new era in transportation in North Carolina," said NC Department of Transportation Secretary Gene Conti. "With dwindling transportation revenues and more fuel efficient vehicles, the state needed another tool in its toolbox to deliver megaprojects like the Triangle Expressway."

Over 100 people witnessed the beginning of the new era.

U.S. Congressman David Price, who also spoke at the event, said that today's ceremony was an example of "where we've come from and where we're going."

Construction for the first segment of the Triangle Expressway - an extension of NC 147 from I…

Byrd, Webb, Casey and other Senators propose legislation to continue ADHS for five more years

Robert Byrd is still alive and kicking as he and five other U.S. Senators are crafting legislation to continue funding for the Appalachian Development Highway System (ADHS) for another five years.

Currently, the ADHS program is set to expire on September 30th.

Co-Sponsors of the legislation include - Sens. Jay Rockefeller, D-W.Va.; Jim Webb, D-Va.; Bob Casey, D-Pa.; Mark Warner, D-Va.; and Richard Shelby, R-Ala.

The bill, if approved, will allow federal funding for the completion of the ADHS which began in 1965. Currently, 2,672 miles or 86.5 percent of the 3,090 mile system has been completed or is currently under construction.

A significant amount of the unfinished system is Corridor H - an east-west corridor through Central West Virginia from I-79 in Weston to I-81 south of Winchester, VA.

Earlier this year, President Obama's fiscal budget cut funding for Corridor H - an outcome Byrd vowed to fight.

Though it is not said how much money would be allocated in the bill to finish the AD…

If It's Friday, It Must Be (A Trip to) Goldsboro

Since the Greensboro signing changes are coming to an end, and I have other people supplying me with photos now, I decided to take a quick roadtrip the other direction today. Since NCDOT has released its final report on I-795 and announced reconstruction could start as early as next month, I decided to ride the rough road the last time and see if any other changes (signage, mileposts, exit numbers) had changed since my last visit in January.

The quick (and small) answer was no. Everything, except the road surface, was unchanged from when the signs went up in November 2007. Even the hard to see South I-795 to the right sign at the still marked US 117 exit is still there. But I did find some other new things to tell and show.

1. The US 64/264 'exit to nowhere' is almost complete. They were working on tying the completed westbound exit ramps to the highway when I passed by. Fortunately, I was going east because the two right lanes westbound were closed and traffic was backed up to …