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I-73/I-74 in NC-Year in Review and 2013 Preview

This past year has been seen a couple significant milestones with regard to building I-73 and I-74 in NC. The new year offers a few more, including the largest addition to the mileage of both routes since they were first established. I'll cover each route for 2012 and then talk about what's in store for 2013.

Year in Review I-73
The most significant project, which affected I-74 as well, was the completion of the interstate upgrade work through the Asheboro area. When the FHWA agreed to the establishment of I-73 (and I-74 in NC) in 1997 they prohibited NCDOT from signing any more of the US 220 corridor north of what is now Exit 68-US 220 Business/NC 134 as an official interstate route(s) until several deficiencies in the Asheboro stretch were fixed. The contract to fix these problems was let in 2010 and was completed, officially, in early November. This not only allowed NCDOT to sign what was 8 miles of Future I-73/I-74 as Interstates 73 and 74 with the completion of the projec…

Assateague Island National Seashore

Over Thanksgiving, Maggie and I spent time on the Eastern Shore of Virginia.  The day before Thanksgiving, while much of the country was traveling - and stuck in traffic - on Interstates, we took an afternoon day trip to Assateague Island National Seashore

Neither of us had been to this park, and to be honest we didn't know what to expect.  We had read about the wild horses that roam the island, and knew that the Maryland side of the island was going to be built as a housing/beach resort type development in the early 1960s until a Nor'Easter tore apart the island.  So we set out to explore the park, walk the beach, and nothing else.

For the entire set on flickr, head here.

Speaking of storms, Hurrican Sandy did have a significant impact to the island and the park.  Damage to the access road that leads to the Tom's Cove Visitors Center forced patrons to park about a 1/3 of a mile before the center and walk to the beach.  It was a blustery day for a walk but the views of T…

Tour of Phase III of the Triangle Expressway

On Thursday, December 20th, the third - and at this point final - phase of the Triangle Expressway opened to traffic.  The opening extended the NC 540 Toll Road and additional five miles from US 64 in Apex to the NC 55 Bypass in Holly Springs.

Prior to the expressway's opening, I was fortunate enough to tour the highway via the Expressway Trot 5k on December 2nd.  On Christmas Eve, I took a spin on the new road for the first time.

For the entire flickr set, head here.

Since I never was able to get a good photo of it prior (and because I live on the opposite end of Wake County from here), I finally am able to post a photo of the 'END' NC 540 shield for the brief free section of NC 540. (I-40 to NC 54).



Prior to that shot, the VMS announced that the highway is now open to NC 55 in Holly Springs.  This message alternates with a message explaining that tolls on that section will begin on January 2, 2013.



And here's the newly opened stretch of highway!



Don't let the emp…

Weekend at Great Smoky Mountains National Park

Early in September, Maggie and I took a weekend getaway to Great Smoky Mountain National Park.   Neither of us have ever been there and we both wanted to have a getaway weekend before really getting ready for the arrival of Colton in January.

For the entire set on flickr head here.

We arrived at the park mid-to-late morning on Saturday, and our first stop was the Ocanuluftee Visitors Center on US 441 at the main North Carolina Entrance to the park.  At the visitors center, there is the Mountain Farm Museum which is pretty much a living example of how rural farm life in the Smokies was like in the late 1800 - early 1900s.



From there, it was the long and winding - yet very scenic drive up Newfound Gap Road (US 441) to Clingman's Dome.





At Clingman's Dome, we registered our first hike in our Hiking the Smokies log book.  The log book can be purchased for only $1.00 at any of the park's Visitors Centers - and is worth it.  After 100, 250, 500 miles logged.  Take your log to a v…

I-93/I-95 New Lane Report

I took a quick road trip this morning to take a drive on the portion of '128' from MA 24 to almost MA 109 whose additional 4th lanes were opened during November. I also tried to grab photos of signs I missed documenting during past road trips as well.

1. Northbound I-93/US 1
The additional lane begins at the MA 24 on-ramp. Here's the additional lane and the 2 new I-93/US 1 signs:
This was the last section of the new northbound to be opened. The view at the next exit:
That's the I-95 2-mile advance exit sign in the distance. There were some old and new signs between Exits 3 and 2:
The yellow sign on the right is new and reminds traffic that driving in the breakdown lane is no longer allowed. If you want confirmation that I-93 ends in 1 1/2/ miles (this is an old sign, not replaced), there's a new official 'End(!) I-93' sign:
Between the MA 138 and I-95 Exits there are now two additional lanes for the I-95 exit as seen above and in this photo:
The new lanes he…