Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from February, 2010

NCTA drastically changes the Garden Parkway

In a response to the numerous concerns of the cost and construction timing for the Garden Parkway, the North Carolina Turnpike Authority has drastically changed the make up of the highway.

Residents and community leaders had expressed concerns about the highway which is planned to run parallel to the South of Interstate 85 in Gaston County.  The toll highway would link I-85 near Bessemer City to Interstate 485 near Charlotte-Douglas International Airport.

Original financing and construction plans for the road was to build the Garden Parkway from I-485 westward over the Catawba River into Gaston County and temporarily ending at US 321 near Gastonia.  The rest of the highway from US 321 to I-85 was to be built at a later date - when funding would become available.

Numerous concerns about traffic dumping on to US 321 - among others - were voiced, and the NCTA has now dramatically changed the highway in order to build it all in one shot.  The changes would cut an estimated $350 million fr…

First Tour of the TriEx in 2010

Adam Prince and I took a Sunday morning tour to check out construction of the Triangle Expressway, NC's first Toll Road. I had not been down to check progress since I first toured the area last fall. The TriEx (as the Turnpike Authority is trying to get potential users to call it) is made up of 2 parts: The Triangle Parkway (an extension of NC 147) and the Western Wake Freeway, an extension of NC 540 from NC 55 north of Apex to the NC 55 Bypass in Holly Springs.
Here's a map to help explain the two parts and to identify the locations where we went on this trip (map excerpt taken from NCTA 2009 Annual Report, p. 17):
We expected to see more progress on the Triangle Parkway than the Western Wake Freeway, but it turns out it was the exact opposite. The contractors (who are working under the name The Raleigh Durham Roadbuilders, very original) started tree cutting and landscaping at the northern end of the Triangle Parkway, starting where it will depart from the existing NC 147:
Abov…

NCDOT Releases Construction Project Rankings

From an WRAL.com story tonight: http://www.wral.com/traffic/story/7087906/

NCDOT, ahead of its public meetings on Monday, has released its rankings of state highway projects, both statewide, and by division, for two different categories: highway and non-highway and for highways using three different components: Safety, Mobility, and (Infrastructure) Health, and three tiers: Statewide, Regional, and Subregional. These in turn are broken down into many 'sub-modes' such as pavement rehabilitation, highway construction, etc. At this time all projects are listed even if they are not ultimately going to be paid for by the state and included in the state TIP. The document is available in the link above, and here:
http://www.ncdot.org/performance/reform/documents/

The new rankings are part of a process to remove politics from determining what highway projects are chosen. The highest ranked project according to Mobility is the paving of Secretary of Transportation Gene Conti's drivewa…

Will NC Turnpike Shields be purple?

Will this be what Toll NC 540 shields look like once the Triangle Expressway opens?  It certainly could be.

Bob Malme in a post to a regional transportation forum noticed that on a map of the now under construction Triangle Expressway thatthe NC 147 TOLL and NC 540 TOLL shields were purple.  Any non-toll NC routes were the traditional black background.  Bob references the 2009 NC Turnpike Annual Report which shows a map of the TriEx on page 17.

This would confirm a note I received informing me that at an unrelated meeting to the Turnpike, an NCDOT official said that local communities couldn't use purple for wayfinding projects because it is reserved for the upcoming toll roads.


The reason for purple?  The FHWA Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) requires it.  From page 10 of the 2009 Edition of the MUTCD:
J. Purple—lanes restricted to use only by vehicles with registered electronic toll collection (ETC)
accountsThe Triangle Expressway will be completely tolled electron…

Yadkin River Bridge Project only receives $10 million in TIGER Grants; NCDOT to consider other financing methods

As I mentioned in an earlier blog post, NCDOT only received $10 million in TIGER Grant Funding for the I-85 Yadkin River Bridge project.  The state had applied for the maximum of $300 million for this project.  Though NCDOT was pleased to receive money for the needed project, they were disappointed, "Obviously the $300 million would have enabled us to build it faster, and be able to use those resources for other transportation needs in North Carolina. We’re extremely disappointed," said Ted Vaden, an NCDOT Deputy Secretary.

The overall project - building a new eight-lane Yadkin River Bridge, widening a total of eight miles of I-85 on both sides of the new bridge, and rebuilding interchanges - is estimated to cost closer to $400 million.

The Salisbury Post reports that the $10 million will basically cover administration costs that will be used to achieve additional funding to construct the bridge.  As part of the awarding of the grant, NCDOT is eligible for "optional inn…

US DOT announces recipients of $1.5 billion in TIGER Grants

The US Department of Transportation today announced the recipients of $1.5 billion in TIGER Grant funding. Of nearly 1400 requests for funding that was a combined total of $56.5 billion, 51 projects - or 3.7% of those submitted - received TIGER funding.  The awards ranged from a maximum of $105 million to a minimum of $3.15 million.

To see the list of grant winners - go here.

Only four of the 51 awarded projects will be fully funded with TIGER financing.  They include a $14 million project that will improve the infrastructure at three Maine seaports, $45 million for a new 1.5 mile New Orleans Streetcar line from Union Station to Canal St. along Loyola Ave., $35 million to complete 3.7 miles of a US 395 freeway in Spokane (the money will build two missing southbound lanes), and $3.5 million for improvements to US 93 in Whitefish, MT.

Specific of interest to this blog, $10 million each was awarded to the I-85 Yadkin River Bridge project and the eventual construction of I-73 in Dillon C…

Is Corridor H the new 'Goat Path Expressway'?

Near Lancaster, Pennsylvania there is the infamous "Goat Path Expressway".  The graded yet unbuilt freeway that has become a popular grazing spot for livestock.  It is one of the many Pennsylvania oddities that can be found within our hobby.G

Now along a section of unopened Corridor H near Moorefield, West Virginia, it appears that there is another version of the "Goat Path Expressway."

Goats from a 700 acre farm owned by John Weese have found their way onto the various Corridor H construction sites near Moorefield.  The goats have found their way through right-of-way fencing and onto the eventual highway.  Corridor H west of Moorefield is schedule to open later this year.

The West Virginia Division of Highways is working with Weese to build a "goat-proof" right of way fence that will hopefully keep the goats of the road once the highway opens. 

Story:
Goats roaming 'freely' along W. Va. Corridor H ---Cumberland Times-News

Southern Connector (I-185) default leads to concerns over Interstate 73 plans

The recent default on debt service by the privately operated Greenville Southern Connector (Toll Interstate 185) has led some South Carolina legislators concerned that a private-public partnership for construction of Interstate 73 in northeastern South Carolina.

On January 1, the Connector 2000 Association defaulted on debt service.  They are currently trying to negotiatie with creditors on losses and repayments.  The SC Legislature recently voted down an ammendment that would have allowed the Connector 2000 Association to renegotiate terms and restructure their bonds.  The ammendment failed by a vote of 46 to 59. 

The concern of most legislature is that SCDOT would become responsible for any of the losses on the road, specifically if Connector 2000 Association and the Southern Connector goes bankrupt.

With one of the possible financing solutions for building Interstate 73 a public-private partnership, some legislators, such as Ken Kennedy, are concerned that the same thing will happe…

Pennsylvania wants to move US 119 onto Mon-Fayette Expressway

With West Virginia nearing completion of their portion of the Mon-Fayette Expressway, PennDot is looking to moving US 119 onto it, once the Mon-Fayette is completed, to Interstate 68.  According to the minutes of the August 20, 2009 meeting of the Morgantown Metropolitan Planning Organization, PennDot "...wishes to [ask] AASHTO to resign that section of the Mon-Fayette Expressway as U.S. 119. Pennsylvania wishes to immediately place U.S. 119 signage on the interstate and overlap from Exit 1 on I-68, across Cheat Lake."

Under the Pennsylvania proposal, US 119 would no longer leave the freeway at Morgantown Road (un-numbered exit; mile 12), but it would now continue on the toll road south into West Virginia and then west on Interstate 68 until Exit 1. 

However, West Virginia prefers that US 119 leave I-68 at Exit 7 and continue to run through downtown Morgantown.


Above: A scan from a 2009 PennDot State Map showing the under construction Mon-Fayette Expwy (in Green) US 119 and …

VAR's I-73 appeal was dropped due to agreement with FHWA

A few weeks ago, I blogged about the dismissal of an appeal by Virginians for Appropriate Roads in regards to Interstate 73.  The dismissal came before any hearings on the matter took place.

Since then a few more details about the dismissal have come about and the Martinsville Bulletin is all over it.

VAR is more than happy to drop the appeal because in their mind, "...there is no certainty this project will ever move forward."

The key part of the agreement that caused VAR to drop their appeal is "...that if a Supplemental Environmental Impact Statement is done for the project, Virginians for Appropriate Roads may raise road improvements and access management alternatives with respect to U.S. 220 in any judicial review challenge that the group might bring..."

Story Link:
Appeal on I-73 case dismissed on settlement decision ---Martinsville Bulletin

Commentary:
What appeared when first reported as a blow to VAR appears to be more of a victory for them.  If any future st…

N.C. 288 will remain dead and buried

Swain County's Road to Nowhere will, indeed, continue to go nowhere.

Last Saturday, Swain County officials signed an agreement with the Department of the Interior to officially cancel the North Shore Road, proposed for nearly 70 years to replace a section of N.C. 288 that was submerged by the Tennessee Valley Authority during the construction of Fontana Lake in the early 1940s. The status of the road has been a hot topic in Swain County for decades, with proponents arguing that the federal government should keep its promise, allowing road access to old cemeteries on the north shore of Fontana Lake and giving the county a scenic route to rival the Blue Ridge Parkway and Cherohala Skyway, potentially benefitting tourism. Opponents felt that the road would ruin the rustic character of the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which extends as far south as the lake, and that Swain County, one of North Carolina's poorest, would benefit from a significant cash settlement that could…

NCDOT names four finalists for I-485 'design/build/finance' project

The North Carolina Department of Transportation has recently announced the four finalists for construction of the final five miles of Interstate 485 in Mecklenburg County. 

The four teams of contractors/consultants/financiers are:
Barnhill/English, a joint venture of Barnhill Contracting Co. and W.C. English Inc., and HDR Engineering Inc. of the Carolinas;Blythe Construction Inc. and Wilbur Smith Associates;Kiewit Southern Co. and Parsons Transportation Group Inc.; andThe Lane Construction Corp. and The LPA Group of North Carolina, P.A.Currently, NCDOT is in the earlier stages of reviewing each group's Request for Proposal (RFP).  It is an approximately three month process that will ultimately end with the awarding of a bid on May 28th.

The final five miles of I-485 is the first of three parts of a major $540 million construction project.  The second part includes widening of Interstate 85 from I-485 to Cabarrus County.  The third is for the actual reconstruction of the existing I-8…

Irish Signs in the Catskills

In July 2008, I took a short road trip that led me through the Catskill mountain town of East Durham, which is located in Greene County, New York. The Catskills are nicknamed the Jewish Alps, and while that is certainly true in Sullivan County, East Durham has a decidedly Irish flavor to it. As I was driving around on some of the local county routes (CR 20B and CR 27), I spotted some signs from the old country.



See all the photos at...
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dougtone/4348459219/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dougtone/4348459555/
http://www.flickr.com/photos/dougtone/4348419993/

As I was uploading photos to Flickr for my project where I am uploading my numerous road related photos, I remembered that I wanted to mention these photos, and today I have.

Just another Sunday Drive

The past six weeks have been the closest you can get to having "cabin fever" in North Carolina.  With the exception of four days, the weather since New Years has been rather dismal, cold, dreary, and wet.  So on Sunday with an errand to run, I made it a quick three hour mini trip into Franklin and Warren Counties.

My Route: NC 98, US 401, NC 561, NC 43, NC 58, US 401, NC 98, US 1, I-540.

For the photo set head over to flickr.

I picked up a few new crossroads for that project, and I only took under two dozen photos.  But sometimes, there's a photo or two that makes a trip like Sunday's worthwhile.  Along NC 43 in the tiny community of Arcola is an old abandoned general store.



G.W. Davis General Store, which as I found out from a few locals that were at Arcola Grocery across the corner, closed about 15 or so years ago.  It was a true country store - there was a post office, grocery, hardware store, and even clothing store all there.  And as the gentleman from Arcola s…

FHWA approves next segment of I-69 extension in Indiana

The Federal Highway Administration gave the green light for construction of another segment of the I-69 extension between Indianapolis and Evansville. The section approved stretches from US-50 just east of Washington to US-231 outside of the Crane Naval Surface Warfare Center in Greene County. Bids for overpasses to be built should be let within the next week, with work to begin on them within two months. Paving should start this summer.The INDOT spokeswoman quoted in the Indianapolis Star article mentions that the third of six segments should receive federal approval this spring. This would most likely be the segment from SR 64 north to US-50, as the segments north of Crane are as of now not funded.More info on the project as a whole can be found on the Build I-69 website. Although its focus is on Indiana, it occasionally brings to light the progress of I-69 in other states, as the route will eventually stretch south to Laredo, TX.Oh, for those of you who were wondering, I’m a new wr…

I-74 in Charlotte?

Chris Curley sent me a sign goof photo from the Brookshire Freeway in Charlotte. Thought I'd post it for everyone in the blog to see. Apparently they are updating the exit signs and one of the signs for the Independence Blvd exit instead of having a US 74 shield, looks like this:
Now there are some people who would like to see an interstate from Charlotte to Wilmington, but right now the I-74 number is taken and is already on freeways more than 50 miles to the east. Bets on how long it will take NCDOT to fix this?