Skip to main content

Posts

Showing posts from July, 2016

The Road to Nowhere - The story of the North Shore Road

Unless you are native to the mountains of Western North Carolina, the incomplete North Shore Road around Fontana Lake is easily overlooked and forgotten.  But to a number of the descendants of families displaced from the creation of the lake, it is a daily reminder of broken promises and years of legal battles over their former land.

The story of the North Shore Road begins in the early 1940's when Congress appropriated funding for the building of Fontana Dam by the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA).  The damming of the Little Tennessee River created what is now known as Fontana Lake.  The 11,685 acre lake would displace over 1300 families in addition to submerging many parts of NC Highway 288, an unpaved road that ran from Bryson City to Deals Gap. (1)  In addition, the lake left nearly 44,000 acres of land between it and what was then the boundary of Great Smoky Mountain National Park. 

With the National Park Service wanting to include the 44,000 acres into GSMNP and the TVA claimi…

I-26 in Madison County - A highway through the Heavens of North Carolina

What began as Appalachian Regional Corridor 'B' in the mid-1960's and ended as an extension of Interstate 26 into the mountains north of Asheville and into Tennessee, is a spectacular highway that combines the scenic majesty of the mountains and the utmost importance in safety and high-speed travel in this modern era.  Built in various segments and not without its share of controversy, the new I-26 instantly became the crown jewel of the North Carolina Highway System when the last miles opened in August 2003. 

Shortly after the highway opened that August, we hosted a road meet to tour the new highway.  Here are some of the photos from the trip.  Photos were taken by Chris Curley and Brian Reynolds.









Roadgeeking with Kids: The first day trip with both kids

Around 10 am this morning, my wife says to me,"How about going to the Richmond Children's Museum today?"

Me: "Sure, Why Not?"  (Hey that's not a bad idea to name a blog!)
So at about 11:30 - we started the trek from Raleigh to Richmond.  Of course after a stop at Sonic in Zebulon to get lunch and also change Nash, we were officially on our way.
Of course that's if we don't have to make any stops.  Which we will of course need to make.  This trip was spur of the moment so we need to get gas on the way etc.
Colton is a very good traveler and he is at that age where you can go I spy or use road signs to help him recognize letters and what not.  Nash obviously at two months is/will be more difficult.
This trip we are kinda planning as we drive, and we hope to go to the museum and also the Silver Diner and possibly a good ice cream place.
I'm typing this real time so obviously any changes I'll write as we go - so if a train of thought gets interr…

2016 TIGER Grant Recipients Announced

The USDOT 2016 TIGER Grants were indeed awarded and announced today.

Highlights include:

40 overall awardsAwards given to Guam and the U.S. Virgin IslandsFive different port projects Many involve complete streets and other multi-modal projects Larger road related projects include:
Grant awarded to the City of Pittsburgh to build a deck over the Interstate 579 Crosstown Expressway connecting the Hill District to DowntownA project to widen and improve Interstate 25 in the Ft. Collins, CO areaContinuation of the conversion of CT 34 to an urban boulevard in New Haven, CT Interchange construction at US 169 and MN 41 in Scott County, MNFunds to complete 16 miles of the Foothills Parkway at Great Smoky National Park

The Wil-Cox Bridge

Located at North Carolina's most historic river crossing is one of the state's most historic bridges.  The concrete open-spandrel seven arch Wil-Cox Bridge that carried the southbound lanes of US 29/70 over the Yadkin River has connected Davidson and Rowan Counties since 1922.  The area where it sits between Spencer to the south and Lexington to the north is known as 'The Trading Ford'.  The Trading Ford has seen over five centuries of American cultural, industrial, military, and transportation history.  From Indian trading paths, failed colonization by the Spanish, travels by troops in the American Revolution and Civil War, to a site of numerous ferries and bridges, the Trading Ford is an important part of North Carolina History.

The Wil-Cox Bridge is the third of six non rail spans to cross the Yadkin at the Trading Ford.  The first two were built on the same set of piers (photo below) upriver.  The first crossing, built in 1818, was designed by legendary designer Ith…

NC 90: The Forgotten Highway of Caldwell County.

One of North Carolina's highway secrets is the unpaved portion of NC 90 in Caldwell County.  From a point just beyond the curve, seen in the photo above, to an unmarked location in the tiny community of Edgemont, highway 90's last few miles are an unpaved journey through country that is forgotten by many everyday travelers.  Although not in as quite a rugged territory as the mountains of Western North Carolina or some of the peaks just to the north, the unpaved NC 90 does climb from an elevation of approximately 1400 feet at the pavement change to close to 2400 feet in Edgemont.

Although isolated from nearby towns of Lenoir, Blowing Rock, and Boone, this segment does show signs of civilization.  Utility poles and a handful of homesteads mark the route.  Complete with three one lane bridges, unpaved NC 90 runs entirely through Pisgah National Forest and provides access to campsites within the park's boundary.

All photos taken May 2003.














Steven Duckworth, who took the photos whi…

Roadgeeking with Kids - An Introduction

(First of an occasional series - highlighting in a sometimes humorous way of how having kids changes how you roadgeek)

From my experience, most roadgeeks (enthusiasts if you don't like the term) are male.  Most are single. Some are in a relationship and even married.  Many of those that are married are DINKs (Dual income no kids) and a handful of us have kids - some of us - like my family - have two.  Or even more! Along with my wife, Maggie, the four of us are a happy family that find ourselves in one adventure or another.  Currently, that is keeping a somewhat organized home! A three year old boy and a two month old will do that!
Obviously having kids takes up a lot of time and the days of last minute, "Hey, I'm gonna go out and do a photo trip and explore for a few hours," or something similar are long gone. As is the free time to work on webpages or even this blog.  In fact, I typed most of this blog on my phone while rocking Nash to sleep.  But that doesn't …

Old NC 10 - The Central Highway - Eastern Orange County: Hillsborough to Durham

Quietly hidden from US 70 and I-85 is one of the more lengthy segments of the Old Central Highway in the Piedmont.  Old NC 10 as it is known runs east from NC 86 just south of Hillsborough to US 70 just west of NC 751.  This twisty seven mile ride doesn't have any old roadside gas stations or motels or any other Roadside America artifacts.  What it does have are three low-clearance railroad trestles, a rural charm, and the history of once being part of the most important route in the state.

Although the beginning of Old NC 10 at NC 86 is rather inconsequential, not that far after the road begins the defining features of this back road come into play.  The highway begins to include some of the S-curves that were tight enough to have the road bypassed by a new NC 10/US 70 in the late 1920s. Soon after, the first rail trestle comes into sight - which is also located near one of the tight S-curves. This is the first of three rail trestles to cross over Old NC 10.  This is one of two No…

Abandoned Interstate 85 Connector Ramps - Gastonia, NC

When Interstate 85 was extended westwards into Gaston County from Charlotte in 1962, it would come to a temporary end between New Hope and Cox Roads.  Traffic at that time  was funneled onto a connector highway that moved traffic onto Franklin Blvd. (US 29/74)  When I-85 was completed through Gaston County in 1965, the connector ramps remained open to traffic.  Nearby interchanges with Cox Road to the east and New Hope Road to the west were half diamond interchanges.  (See map below)



In the early 1990s, NCDOT widened I-85 through Gastonia to six lanes.  As part of this massive overhaul to the highway, the New Hope (Exit 20) and Cox Road (Exit 21) interchanges were reconstructed into full diamonds.  The Gastonia Connector Interchange was eliminated.  The former connector -- now Aberdeen Blvd. -- serves as an access road from Franklin Blvd. to Eastridge Mall and Cox Road.  With the exception of the ramps on and off I-85, you can still travel the connector today.  Motorists can still see …