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2017 sees new interest and new promise for the Pike2Bike Trail

There's new energy in the campaign to convert the 8.5 mile stretch of the abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike into a multi-use bike trail.  These recent developments has spurned renewed interest in the project with local governments, businesses and the Governor's office in Harrisburg. 

In a reply to my recent blog entry on the seemingly stagnant efforts to convert the 8.5 miles of abandoned turnpike to a bike trail, Bedford County Planning Director, Donald Schwartz, shared with me some new and updated information on the status of the plan.  Earlier this year, the engineering firm, Navarro & Wright, was awarded the bid to update the master plan.  Once the work is completed and the plan is revised; the still unresolved issue of ownership of the trail remains.  Schwartz sees that it is still likely that a joint operation between Fulton and Bedford Counties will be overseeing the trail.

The ownership of the trail is key as that will allow the Pike2Bike Trail to go forward in desi…

A quick Illinois and Wisconsin Road Trip

Recently, I was in the Chicago area and was able to explore the area north of Chicago and Wisconsin in my downtime.  I pretty much did a loop that consisted of Interstate 94, Interstate 43, US 12, Illinois Route 120, and Illinois Route 60.  It was my first real time exploring the area.  I ended up gaining an additional five counties on the trip bringing my total to just short of 1100, 1099 to be exact.

For the entire flickr set of photos for this trip, please head here.

Just prior to entering Wisconsin on Interstate 94, you will come across this sign.  Out of nowhere, Interstate 41 appears.  And if you aren't hip to changes on your map, Interstate 41 is a rather recently new interstate that runs from Green Bay to just about a mile inside the Illinois border.  Interstate 41 is an upgraded routing of the US 41 freeway that runs from Milwaukee to Green Bay; however, it was added along Interstate's 894 and 94 South of Milwaukee to where US 41 leaves I-94.  In fact, throughout the…

Local Sign Find - Wake Forest Road at Louisburg Road in Raleigh before Capital Blvd.

Two years ago, I shared some older North Carolina and Virginia photos that were sent to myself and Mike Roberson.  I forgot that there was another photo from this collection that was from the intersection of Wake Forest Road and Louisburg Road just north of Downtown Raleigh prior to the construction of Capital Blvd.

It appears that this photo was most likely taken after 1948 but before Capital Boulevard was constructed in the early to mid 1950s.  According to Mike Roberson's NCRoads website, US 1 had ran on Wake Forest Road and US 1A along Louisburg Road.  However, in 1948, the two designations swapped with US 1 joining NC 59 north out of the city along Louisburg.  US 1A was moved to Wake Forest Road. 

A lot has changed since then - here's a Google Street View image from April 2017 that shows what the intersection looks like today.  It appears that the White Truck Sales and Service building is still there today.




The National Road - Pennsylvania - Brownsville to Washington

As you exit Brownsville and continue further west, the next town along the National Road is Centerville.  The heart of this small town is located along the original routing of the National Road located just north of modern US 40.  The town, which was founded in 1821, was a central stopping point for stagecoaches between Uniontown and Washington.  Because of its location between the two cities, Centerville was a very prominent location in the early days of the National Road.  Because of its location there are several historic former inn and taverns within or just outside of the town's limits. 

One of these historic former tavern's is Riggle Tavern located just west of Centerville.  The tavern was owned by Zaphania Riggle, who would own numerous taverns along the pike in Washington County.  The tavern that bears his last name was burned under his ownership; however, it was immediately rebuilt.  Mr. Riggle transferred ownership of the tavern in 1845 to Peter Colley. (1)

Further …

The National Road - Pennsylvania - Brownsville and Dunlap's Creek Bridge

From Searights Toll House, the National Road continues west towards the Monongahela River town of Brownsville.  Brownsville for many decades was a transportation and industry center.  Brownsville was the home to steamboat construction and a rail hub for the steel industry.  Like many cities and town's in what is now known as the Rust Belt, Brownsville saw a steady and dramatic population decline after the Second World War.  Brownsville's population peaked at just over 8,000 residents in 1940 to nearly a quarter of that today.  (The estimated 2016 population is 2,270.)

 The heart of Downtown Brownsville is known as "The Neck", and for years this flat stretch of land between the Intercounty and Lane Bane Bridges along Market Street was home to many professional businesses, banks, stores and shops, and more.  However, "The Neck" today is a skeleton of what it once was.  Many of the historic buildings with intricate architectural detail are boarded up and have …

The story on how the unbuilt US 40 Expressway in Brownsville took 40 years to complete.

For nearly four decades, the four lane US 40 just east of Brownsville came to an abrupt end - shown in the photo above - at Grindstone Road in Redstone Township.   In the late 1960s, what was then the Pennsylvania Division of Highways (PennDOH) extended a new four lane alignment of US 40 eastwards from Broadway Street slightly over one mile to Grindstone Road where an incomplete diamond interchange was built.  Earlier in the decade, PennDOH had built a four lane US 40 in Washington County into Brownsville complete with a new crossing over the Monongahela River known as the Lane Bane Bridge.  This new highway and bridge allowed US 40 to bypass the older Intercounty Bridge and downtown Brownsville. 

After this new highway opened, nothing would happen to it for nearly forty years.  US 40 traffic would use the ramps for this planned diamond interchange and then jog on Grindstone Road briefly before continuing towards Uniontown on the original National Road. 
What is unknown (at least to…

Check the box: Interstate 495 to 87 conversion administratively approved

The American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials have recently approved North Carolina's application to remove the short-lived Interstate 495 and future I-495 from Raleigh to Rocky Mount.  This administrative move most likely will result in North Carolina signing Interstate 87 and Future I-87 on the entire corridor in the near future.

Approved in 2013, Interstate 495 was first signed in 2014 along US 64 from Interstate 440 in Raleigh to Interstate 540 in Knightdale.  The remaining segment of highway to Rocky Mount was signed as Future Interstate 495.  However, in 2016, North Carolina's congressional legislators were able to get language in the 2015 FAST ACT designating the US 64/US 13/US 17 corridor from Raleigh to Norfolk as an Interstate.  In 2016, the FHWA and AASHTO designated this entire corridor (including the existing Interstate and Future 495) as Interstate 87.  (NCDOT had applied for Interstate 89 along this route.)

It is currently unknown when t…

Interstate 785 Now signed on Greensboro Outer Loop

Ben Thurkill was in the Greensboro area today and came across an End I-785 shield at the route' s current Northern terminus at US 70.

The National Road - Pennsylvania - Searights Toll House

As you head west on US 40 from Uniontown, there is a second historical toll house that remains standing.  The Searights Tollhouse was one of six toll houses that once stood along the historic route.  Similar to the Petersburg Toll House in Addison, Searights was built in 1835 after the federal government transferred the maintenance of the National Road to the states.

Searights Toll House is named after the nearby village of Searights.  The village is named after William Searights who lived nearby.  In later years, a coal company town would be built just to the south of the toll house.  The toll house is a two story facility and is open for tours.  The toll house is currently owned by the Fayette County Historical Society.

After collection of tolls ceased in 1905, the toll house went into disrepair.  Today, it has been fully restored and has many artifacts that give a glimpse of life as a toll keeper during the 19th century.  The toll house was added to the National Register of Histor…

Local Sign Find - May 21, 2017

I had the pleasure of driving around the state of Vermont this past Sunday. While the main focus of the trip was to photograph waterfalls (as opposed to taking pictures of the rivers and the lakes that I'm used to), I spotted some neat signs during the course of my travels as well.At one point, I headed down a forest road between Ripton and Goshen in the Green Mountain National Forest. I passed by a couple of signs on a side road where my roadgeek intuition kicked in and demanded that I take a closer look. That's when I spotted a couple of Vermont state route shields with part of a Vermont tourism logo rather than the state name written out.Further down the road on VT 73 in Brandon, I also found a really old VT 73 shield that isn't long for this world. On VT 3 in Proctor, I saw an old cast iron sign highlighting distance to nearby Pittsford and Rutland.

The National Road - Pennsylvania - Great Crossings Bridge and Somerfield

West of Addison, US 40 crosses the Youghiogheny River at what once was the town of Somerfield.  When crossing the current modern two lane bridge, you many not realize that it is actually the third to cross the Yough at this site.  The first - a stone arch bridge - was known as the Great Crossings Bridge.  Built in 1818, this three arch bridge was part of the original National Road.  The name Great Crossings comes from the men who forded the Youghiogheny here - George Washington and George Braddock. (1)  If you cross the bridge at the right time, this historic bridge and what was once the town of Somerfield will appear out from underneath this massive man-made lake.

The Great Crossings Bridge was located in the town of Somerfield.  Somerfield, originally named Smythfield until 1827, would develop as a result of the National Road. (1)  Somerfield would go through various stages of growth and decline throughout the 19th century.  In the early 20th century, Somerfield would develop as a …