December 2008

Just some road news from the Navarre neck of the woods…

U.S. 98 to Change

December 19, 2008

Several safety upgrades to U.S. 98 at Mustang and Coral streets in Navarre, will be made in the new year, according to the Santa Rosa County Engineering Department.

Santa Rosa County spokeswoman Joy Tsubooka said Improvements include closing the median opening on U.S. 98 at Mustang Street; removing the U.S. 98 westbound left-turn lane at Mustang Street; construction of a new paved median opening on U.S. 98 at Coral Street; and construction of an eastbound left-turn lane on U.S. 98 at Coral Street.

Construction is scheduled to begin Jan. 5 and is anticipated to be completed in about 30 days, Tsubooka said.

The improvements on U.S. 98 are safety upgrades recommended in the U.S. Highway 98 Corridor Management Report and are part of a planned Santa Rosa County project to install a traffic signal on U.S. 98 at Coral Street in late spring or early summer.

By the way, this will be the third traffic light installed since moving here in the middle of November.   So much for having just a few traffic lights in the area…

Photo taken 12/13/08

Well, the masterminds over at Google Maps have done it again. Upon going on Google Maps on Monday night, it was discovered that one of their features, Street View, has been drastically modified. First off, Street View can now take up your entire screen, whereas the previous version displayed it in a pop-up window. Second, there is now more extensive coverage, especially in rural areas in the southeast. So, one might think, wow, this is great news! Thanks, Google!

Photo from Google Maps, copyrighted 2008

Well, from a roadgeek’s standpoint (meaning mine) this is NOT great news. Now thanks to the enhanced Street View, one can virtually go on road trips without ever leaving the comfort of their own home. So you want to take some back roads over in the Tallahassee area, well, just go on the PC or laptop, go to Google Maps, find your area, drag the little Street View icon onto the road you want, and away you go!

I personally feel that this enhanced mapping product is going to be the end all to end all for some roadgeeks out there. For some, no, but for others who are not as inclined to jump in a car and take a trip due to the current state of the economy, yes. They will no longer have to spend money on gas to take a road trip. Nope, they can go just about anywhere from their living room. For any roadgeeks in Florida they no longer have to drive endlessly trying to find that one last colored U.S. Highway shield or that Key shield. With just a couple of clicks and pans with the mouse, you can check out most intersections in Florida now and see if those rare but cherished road markers are in place.

Granted, there are still some flaws with Street View, such as the resolution in some areas, the age of the photography used (most is still at least a year behind, if not more), the fact that they travel east in the morning and west in the evening so the sun is in full view and you can’t see anything of importance, the problem areas where the road numbers and road names are STILL incorrect, and the fact that they still do not have Street View in all areas, but the Google guys are probably working hard to resolve those issues.

Needless to say, it’s my personal belief that Google Maps is well on its way, if not already there, to replacing the exploration and fun in roadding. When one sits at the computer and virtually roads where ever they want, you lose that aspect of maybe finding some rare piece of road history or that rare sign that should no longer exist when you can go online and see it before actually field checking. I understand some may not agree with me on this and may feel that this updated Street View on Google Maps is yet another tool in the roadding tool belt, and that is fine. I do agree that it could be, but I strongly feel that it is NOT an end all to end all. But for me personally, I still love the aspect of actually getting in my car, driving somewhere and stumbling across some rare colored Florida U.S. Highway shield or that old alignment alongside a new roadbed.

As I said, this is my personal opinion, so any comments on this are suggested and welcomed by my fellow roadgeeks.

I suspect with the increased usage of GPS/Navigation units in cars and trucks, that more and more drivers will rely upon these gadgets over anything else to get around. Not only will they help phase out the paper map industry as we know it, but eventually I see them phasing out the need for many of the signed routes that we have in our cities today. California already sort of has this attitude that unless its either a rural route or a freeway, that a state highway should not be signed otherwise. Look at the demise of State Routes 209 and 273 in San Diego, State Route 42 in Los Angeles, etc.

As more and more use GPS units, there will be less and less of a need for numbered routes in cities, as the use of street names will suffice just the same. So I expect in the coming years that more U.S. highways will be truncated or syphoned onto freeways, more and more state routes will be truncated or segmented (ala South Dakota 42 through Sioux Falls), and more and more routes will be turned over to city maintenance, leaving numbered routes outside the city or relegated to its freeway system. In the cases where its a mileage swap with the state for other projects, it will be more easily justified when the need for signed routes in cities is diminished.

I wish this were not the case, as I find following the alignment of a state or U.S. route through a city one of the more enjoyable aspects of roadding. Being relegated to a secondary route on a freeway is just about useless otherwise.


This is a new sign gantry for eastbound I-384 exit 2. I’m not quite sure why Conn DOT elected to replace the old one seeing as it was not damaged and completely functional. The other part about this seemingly preemptive replacement is that there are other signs throughout the state that could be updated first. Here’s what the old one looked like:

I-384 westbound old Keeny St. exit sign by you.

Another example of this new sign gantry is one for exit 3 on westbound I-384:

New Exit 3 sign for I-384 westbound by you.

Like the previously mentioned sign, the change was not really necessary:

I-384 exit 3 old sign by you.

Last but not least, the last new sign gantry that I found was warranted because it replaced a substandard sign. Here’s the new one:

New Exit 3 sign for I-384 westbound by you.

Now for the old one:

Old Exit 3 sign for I-384 by you.

Clearly, this old sign was small compared to the rest of the signs that appear along I-384. A few more signs like this one appear on various interstates in Connecticut, but they are uncommon. What is interesting to note is that Conn DOT has not jumped onto the Clearview font bandwagon which seems to be the norm in states that have a bit more road construction activity. The other change that Conn DOT has been working on for several years now, is that when a U.S. route or Connecticut state route shield is replaced on an overhead sign, it’s with one that is with black numbering and filled in white. Older signs are easy to spot because they have white borders, and the numbers are in white.

Barricades were removed on the latest stretch of Interstate 485 to open for motorists in the northern Charlotte area yesterday. What was expected to be completed in March 2007 opened without any fanfare by midday between North Carolina 16 (Brookshire Boulevard) and Interstate 77 / North Carolina 115 (Old Statesville Road). The 5.5 mile stretch completes the northwest quadrant of the Charlotte beltway, leaving the unconstructed northeast quadrant as the final link to a finishd Interstate 485.

Many thanks go to Jamie Dzencelowcz, who documented the new road this morning. Guides to Interstate 485 now include his efforts along the new stretch in both directions: