Sat 21 Jul 2007
A recent trip from Florida to Biloxi shed some light on new and ongoing construction projects throughout the upper Gulf Coast. First, a widening project is well underway now along Interstate 10 through the Tallahassee area. Dubbed “Moving I-10 Forward”, the work involves widening the freeway between milepost 194 and Exit 202, reconstructing the U.S. 27 half-cloverleaf interchange with more graceful ramps, and adding new ramps between Interstate 10 and U.S. 319 opposite the existing diamond interchange with Florida 61. Work began in the Fall of 2006 and will last through mid-2009. See http://www.movingi-10forward.com/ for project details, design schematics, and schedule.
Drivers along congested U.S. 319 northbound soon will be provided with a direct on-ramp to Interstate 10 west. Presently, motorists must maneuver onto adjacent Florida 61 to access Interstate 10 at the nearby diamond interchange; A flyover from the separation of U.S. 319 south from Florida 61 south complicates the adjacent intersection. Photo taken July 13, 2007.
Further west, I finally had the opportunity to travel across the “Crooked Bridge” over Escambia Bay. The Escambia Bay Bridges of Interstate 10 took a beating during September 2004′s Hurricane Ivan. Many segments of the bridge deck were toppled into the Bay or destroyed. Road work commenced soon after on temporarily reopening the ailing spans and the construction of their replacement. The first of two “Crooked Bridges” opened earlier this year and now carries four lanes of overall traffic. Crews continue building the future westbound span while also dismantling the original twin spans.
Traveling the new “Crooked Bridge” of Interstate 10 westbound over Escambia Bay at Pensacola. A good portion of the deck for the future westbound-only span is complete nearby; further away crews continue on the removal of the original twin spans. Photo taken July 13, 2007.
Nearby, the same contractors are nearing completion of the Interstate 10/110 interchange project and Pensacola widening of I-10. Westbound traffic now utilizes essentially what is the final configuration with a c/d roadway handling movements between Florida 291 (Davis Highway) and Interstate 110. The high flyover set to carry westbound drivers onto Interstate 110 south is also near completion. Work will be completed by this fall on the 5-year project.
Westbound Interstate 10 at the nearly completed interchange with Interstate 110 (Exit 12). For a short while longer, drivers will utilize the future c/d roadway westbound to access Interstate 110 south via the original loop ramp. Upon completion, this high-speed flyover will segregate the Interstate 110 southbound movement from that of the same movement from the c/d roadway and Florida 291 (Davis Highway). Photo taken July 16, 2007.
Interstate 110 widening meanwhile moves forward but will not be completed until 2009. New signs are going up along northbound for the interstate 10 interchange and work also is underway on the new split-diamond interchange with Airport Boulevard and Brent Lane (Florida 296). I wrote the contractor about existing signs along Interstate 110 and how they omit both the State Road 295 and 296 designations, and those will finally be reflected on new signs. The Florida 295 interchange is also being redesigned from a standard diamond into that of a partial-cloverleaf interchange. Further south, signs toppled by Hurricane Ivan are finally replaced at the stack interchange between Interstate 110 and U.S. 98 Business.
Signs along the Interstate 110 southbound viaduct near downtown Pensacola are finally replaced after two plus years since their destruction at the winds of Hurricane Ivan. Photo taken July 15, 2007.
Shifting westward into Mobile County, Alabama, work is ongoing along the Alabama 158 (Industrial Parkway) extension from U.S. 45 to Schillinger Road. Widening of Industrial Parkway between Interstate 65 and U.S. 45 is already completed as is the upgrade of the Kali-Oka Road grade-separated intersection into a full diamond interchange. A diamond is also open at U.S. 45 awaiting the completion of Alabama 158 west.
Alabama 158 (Industrial Parkway) eastbound at the new diamond interchange with Kali-Oka Road (Mobile County 55). Signs for Kali-Oka Road only reflect Mobile County 55 and a small University of Mobile sign. At U.S. 45, only U.S. 45 shields are posted (no green signs). Photo taken July 17, 2007.
Schillinger Road presently ends at Alabama 217 (Lott Road) at a dirt road in rural Mobile County. Work to widen the dirt road into a four-lane paved highway between Lott Road and new U.S. 98/Alabama 158 is also underway.
Schillinger Road northbound at its present end with junction Alabama 217 (Lott Road) north of Semmes. Work is quite evident on the Schillinger Road extension northward to future U.S. 98. Photo taken July 16, 2007.
All of the Alabama 158 extension work is conducted to tie the road into the new U.S. 98 bypasses of both Wilmer and Semmes. Work began on that new roadway earlier this year as well. When all is said and done, U.S. 98 will no longer travel any of Moffett Road between the Mississippi state line and Interstate 65. A connector will be built at some point to tie new U.S. 98 into old U.S. 98 east of Semmes, but that time table is uncertain at this time. U.S. 98 otherwise will not be a freeway, however interchanges will be built in place of intersections at Mobile County 63, McCrary Road, Schillinger Road, and Alabama 217 (Lott Road). It is unclear at this time if old U.S. 98 will be signed as Business U.S. 98 or a state road.
I also scoped out the south end of Mobile County 39 (McDonald Road Extension) at Irvington. The road presently ends at a half-diamond interchange with U.S. 90 with grading for future loop ramps to bring it up to a folded-diamond. Projections of Mobile County 39 south include a second interchange south of the nearby CSX Railroad with Park Boulevard and an end at the intersection of Padgett Switch and Half Mile Roads. No work on the extension is underway at this time.
Shifting to Mississippi, the Mississippi 15 four-lane roadway tie in with the new Mississippi 67 expressway nears completion. Traffic still utilizes old Mississippi 15 north of Interstate 110, but the new four-lane asphalt roadway appears to be close to opening. Eventually Mississippi 67 will travel northwest from a trumpet interchange with Mississippi 15 all the way to U.S. 49 as an expressway. Unfortunately I did not get the chance to scope out these new roadways that well.
The opening of the replacement bridge for U.S. 90 across Biloxi Bay between Biloxi and Ocean Springs cannot come fast enough for area commuters. Interstate 110 northbound provides a slow go for the evening exodus of commuters between Biloxi and the D’Iberville interchange (Exit 2). See http://www.biloxibridge.com/ for progress on the new span.
If you have not been on Caillavet Street since Hurricane Katrina, you will not recognize it! The old alignment for Mississippi 15 street now appears as a green four-lane parkway. Originally the road looked like this!
Also, what happened to the sign bridge on Interstate 110 north at Interstate 10? The sign assembly currently at the cloverleaf-interchange is meant for a diamond interchange, not a freeway to freeway connection. Photo taken July 17, 2007.