Illinois


Began the morning of day 2 just outside Cincinnati on a cloudy morning with the last remnants of cold front moving out. Decided to poke around downtown Cincinnati for an hour or so before heading westward along Interstate 74 to Champaign, Illinois. The trip would turn us north along Interstate 57 and east to Michigan later this day, and how far into Michigan we would make it depended upon how much daylight was left…

Approaching the Combs-Hehl Bridge, a pair of cantilever bridges spanning the Ohio River between Kellogg Avenue in Cincinnati and Fort Thomas, Kentucky, along Interstate 275 west (inner loop). These bridges opened in 1979 and carry six lanes of travel. More info on the span can be found at Cincinnati-Transit.net.

A short distance west of the Combs-Hehl Bridge is directional interchange with Interstate 471 and the U.S. 27 connector. U.S. 27 travels high above the beltway via Alexandria Pike in this scene. Construction underway along Interstate 275 involves concrete pavement replacement for both directions of the freeway within Campbell County and the addition of cable barriers along the highway median. Eastbound work will be completed by December 1, 2011; westbound construction commences on April 1, 2012 and lasts through September 1, 2012.

Spanning the Ohio River again via the Taylor-Southgate Bridge of U.S. 27. This cantilever bridge opened in 1995, replacing the original Central Bridge that was demolished by late 1992. Bridge placards from the 1890-built cantilever truss bridge were restored and mounted at both ends of the Taylor-Southgate Bridge.

Heading into downtown Cincinnati, we documented the west end of U.S. 22 and the north end of U.S. 22. U.S. 22 & Ohio 3 follow a one-way street couplet of 7th (eastbound) and 9th (westbound) Streets between Main and the U.S. 27-42-52-127 couplet of Central Avenue and Plum Street. U.S. 22 & Ohio 3 end at the intersection of Central Avenue and 6th Street (Ohio 264), sharing an overlap with U.S. 27-52-127. U.S. 25 has a simpler end, concluding at the Ohio state line along the Clay Wade Bailey Bridge with U.S. 42 & 127.

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The Amstutz Expressway (known as “the Amstutz” and “the road to nowhere”) is a portion of Illinois State Route 137 north of Chicago that runs along the Lake Michigan shoreline. Originally intended to be a relief route for I-94 and run from Chicago north into Wisconsin, the road was never completed and today only small two portions exist: a short stretch in North Chicago and another through Waukegan. The North Chicago portion was renamed in 2010 after mayor Bobby Thompson.

Amstutz northbound at Grand Ave in Waukegan, January 2011.

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Brent drove from Chicago west to QC and met up for a joint trip southeast to Champaign. A quick cold front blew through the morning of, washing out most of the ride west. This view shows that construction along Interstate 88 (East-West Tollway) is finally complete! If you drove through in 2008, you noted jersey barriers everywhere and your eyes bled orange.

The Illinois Tollway is slowly implementing exit numbering along their system. Previously, all exits were unnumbered, and the milepost system adhered to Tollway mileage in lieu of overall Interstate mileage. Some of the new signage including exit numbers are found along Interstate 88 toward Dixon. This particular sign replaced a button copy sign pictured here.

These Clearview signs for Interstate 74 west Exits 3 and 2 were installed literally the night before.

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Started out the day being greeted by this VMS with the message "I-80 EB Closed at Mississippi River". Had to turn around and trudge southward along the real I-74 eastbound, which was equally under construction for an ARRA based resurfacing project. A routine inspection revealed damage to a faulty floor beam and currently only one lane of westbound traffic is permitted to use the bridge due to repairs. Work began on April 5, 2010 on a $10.3-million project. Construction on the October 27, 1966-opened span will shift to the westbound lanes by early July, with on eastbound lane restored at that time.

A new set of Clearview signs were added to the 2008-replaced Lincoln Road overpass. Signs over the westbound lanes were added during the evening of May 5 as we drove under.

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Almost devoid of snow, U.S. 61 northbound after its split with U.S. 67 in downtown Davenport, Iowa. A full day of rain washed most of the snow away, but it would return with a vengeance later Christmas day.

More snow fell then forecast, with the Quad Cities area receiving 3 to 4 inches. This photo, taken at 7:47 am, shows the condition of Interstate 74 near Exit 4 to U.S. 67. The overpass above was replaced in 2009, and the Clearview-fonted signage below was added in place of an overhead assembly.

Snow covered Illinois-Iowa Memorial Bridge across the Mississippi River.
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Took an afternoon drive from the Quad Cities up to Dubuque and back utilizing portions of the Great River Road system.

U.S. 30 joins U.S. 61’s freeway briefly at DeWitt, Iowa. The exit numbering of the U.S. 61 interchanges shifts to U.S. 30’s mileage along their shared alignment.

U.S. 61 varies between a four-lane freeway and four-lane expressway between Interstate 80 and its merge with U.S. 151 near Dubuque Regional Airport. U.S. 151 merges with the divided highway at a trumpet interchange.

U.S. 52 enters Dubuque from the southeast and joins U.S. 61 & 151 from Bellevue Road.

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Iowa trip day 2

Continuing the drive north from Sikeston to the Quad Cities, clouds dominated the day, and from Springfield northward, snow flakes joined the fray. Generally traveled northward along Interstate 55, with a loop onto the new I-64, I-270, and I-255 around St. Louis. Took Interstate 155 to Interstates 74/474 to the Quad Cities in light snow. Saw a pair of cars dislodged from the road, one of which was wrapped in barbed wire, the other perpendicular to the westbound carriageway within the median…

Southbound Interstate 55 at the loop ramp onto Interstate 57’s northbound beginning. It appears that the I-57 shield may be covering up a square shield?

No Interstate 57 shields were posted between the beginning and Exit 4. We settled for this shot on County Road B.

An older spec Interstate 55 Missouri shield in place on U.S. 60 eastbound at the northbound loop ramp to Interstate 55 at Interstate 57’s northbound beginning.

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What began as a local river crossing in 1935, the Interstate 74 & U.S. 6 bridges (Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge) across the Mississippi River between Moline and Davenport are reaching the end of their life span. Though never built to Interstate standards, the 1935-northbound bridge and 1959-built southbound span were added to the Interstate system in 1974. Each suspension bridge carries two lanes without left or right-hand shoulders. The safety issues alone warrant a change, but the bridge design does not allow for any expansion, with a pony truss style siding constructed along east side. Additionally the bridge was already over capacity by 1998, with 74,000 vehicles per day (vpd) crossing a span that can only adequately handle 64,000 vpd.

Picture of the Illinois-Indiana Memorial Bridge from the north banks of the Mississippi River at Bettendorf. A levee system protects the downtown area of Bettendorf from the river. Along the barrier is a walk/bike path, boat ramp, park area, and the Isle of Capri Casino.

Forward to May 23, 2006, the Iowa and Illinois Departments of Transportation held a joint public meeting to select the recommended bridge type for the Interstate 74 replacement. Four designs were considered until the end, the first consisted of a basket handle true arch twin bridge, essentially spans side by side with arches that converge at the top. Second on the list was a modified basket handle tied arch bridge design, with vertical pier and hangers. This configuration is similar in design to what is used for Interstate 280’s crossing of the Mississippi River west of Rock Island, with cross members joining two sets of arches on each span. Design three was similar to the basket handle design but with tied arches. The final design consisted of a cable stayed sing bridge with a semi-fan stay arrangement, essentially a cable-stayed bridge with three support towers. View the designs for yourself here.

The Iowa-Illinois Memorial Bridge travels 66 feet above the Mississippi and is 5,148 feet in overall length. Its name honored the veterans of World War I during its dedication (northbound span) on November 18, 1935. The southbound bridge was built for $8.1 million in 1958, with both open for traffic after a 1959 closure of the original for repairs on January 20, 1960.

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Peoria includes two Interstates, the main route through the city, I-74, and the bypass route, I-474. Lets take a look at the two and more…

Interstate 74 cuts a swath through the downtown area, meandering along a curved path from junction Interstate 474 & Illinois 6 northwest of the city to a brief depressed section of freeway near the central business district. A high-level cantilever bridge carries the freeway across the Illinois River into East Peoria. Once across, the road bisects hills on a southeastern trajectory to Interstate 474, Interstate 155, and Morton.

Interstate 74 descends toward the Perry Avenue under crossing through the eastern outskirts of downtown Peoria. U.S. 24 & Illinois 29 meet the freeway ahead.

Road work recently saw completion on a multi-year project to upgrade Interstate 74 through the Peoria metro area. Begun in 2002 with reconstruction of the North Street and Forrest Hill Bridges, work continued through Fall 2007.

Every bridge over Interstate 74 was reconstructed or replaced and now features ornamental columns. Pictured here is the Forest City Avenue overpass at the Gale Avenue (Exit 90) off-ramp of I-74 east.

Highlights of the near $500 million work included the construction of new ramps at Sterling Avenue, the raising of the Adams Street bridge over Interstate 74, rebuilding of both freeway carriageways, landscaping, and other improvements. Work affected 11 miles of roads, 32 bridges were either removed or replaced, 8 bridges were widened or reconstructed, and two tunnel ramp tunnels were built. Additionally the interchange with the Industrial Spur was reconstructed from a trumpet into a directional interchange near the east end of the Murray Baker Bridge.

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Dubbed the Congestion Relief Project, the Illinois Tollway system, an integral part of Chicagoland’s highway network, is a series of construction projects aimed at modernizing and expanding the multiple-route system in northern Illinois. The overall project was approved in September 2004.

Interstate 355 northbound at Illinois 171.

One of the main aspects of the project was the modernization of the 20 main line toll collecting facilities. Work involved the conversion of the conventional toll booth barriers into a hybrid of high-speed electronic toll collection, called “open road tolling” and newly built attended toll booths for cash and coin based payment. The open road tolling works with I-Pass, a prepaid toll program that works with transponders affixed to car’s windshields that are read by sensors as drivers pass under pass readers at normal freeway speeds. Account holders may bypass the conventional toll booths, which were relocated to outside carriageways, on the tollway mainlines. Additionally I-Pass account holders are charged reduced rates.

Reaching the Des Plaines River Bridge on Interstate 355 north. Monuments are posted at each bridge end with “Veterans Memorial Tollway” inscribed on the columns.

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