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U.S. Highway 52

U.S. 52 shadows Interstate 77 throughout its 82-mile trek across western Virginia. The route serves local traffic from North Carolina to Fort Chiswell through the Carroll County seat of Hillsville and Fancy Gap among other communities. The original overlap with U.S. 11 along Lee Highway was replaced by Interstates 77 and 81 between Fort Chiswell and Wytheville, leading both highways to follow the freeway.

An overlap with U.S. 11 through Wytheville was eliminated in favor of continuing U.S. 52 along Interstate 81 to bypass the city. North from Crowgeys, U.S. 52 follows a mountainous route to Bland and Rocky Gap before combining with I-77 through the East River Mountain Tunnel into Bluefield, West Virginia. This stretch was also U.S. 21 until its truncation to Wytheville in 1979.

Interstate 77 & U.S. 52 south
Interstate 77 enters Virginia midway through the East River Mountain Tunnel east of Bluefield. The four lane tunnel consists of two 5400 foot long tubes opened to traffic in 1974. Work took five years to complete at a cost of $40 million. More info can be found at the FHWA web site. Photo taken 10/02/10.
U.S. 52 utilizes the East River Tunnel between Exit 1 in West Virginia and Exit 66 in Virginia. Virginia 598 (East River Mountain Road) meanders across East River Mountain to the west as the old alignment of both U.S. 21 and 52 into Bluefield. U.S. 52 south otherwise rejoins its two-lane alignment along Scenic Highway south to Rocky Gap. Photo taken 10/02/10.
U.S. 52 south
Entering Crowgeys, U.S. 52 (North 4th Street) meets Virginia Secondary 661 (Fairview Road). SSR 661 leads north to Haven and SSR 659 at Queens Knob. Photo taken 07/16/05.
U.S. 52 (North 4th Street) south at SSR 661 (Fairview Road) north. SSR 661 travels a circuitous route west to Fairview and Kegleys, ending at SSR 600. Photo taken 07/16/05.
Continuing south from Crowgeys, U.S. 52 enters a diamond interchange with Interstate 81 (Exit 70). Photo taken 07/16/05.
Interstate 81 joins Wytheville with Bristol and Knoxville, Tennessee to the south. Photo taken 07/16/05.
The interchange between U.S. 52 and Interstate 81 doubles as the southbound beginning of U.S. 21. Photo taken 07/16/05.

U.S. 52 joins Interstate 81 north for ten miles to bypass Wytheville. Photo taken 07/16/05.
U.S. 21 continues along North 4th Street to merge with U.S. 11 (West Main Street) in downtown Wytheville. U.S. 52 used to follow this alignment as well, but was moved onto the freeway in 1986. Photo taken 07/16/05.
Interstate 81 north & U.S. 52 south
U.S. 52 bypasses Wytheville with Interstate 81 north for ten miles through to Fort Chiswell. The highway originally overlapped with U.S. 11 through the city. Photo taken 07/16/05.
Interstate 81 north & U.S. 52 south head east to their merge with Interstate 77 northeast of Wytheville. This set of overheads direct motorists bound for Charlotte to stay on Interstate 81 through to Exit 81 as Interstate 77 merges with I-81 to Fort Chiswell. Interstate 77 north otherwise continues to Bluefield, West Virginia. Photo taken 07/16/05.
Exit 72 departs in one mile for Interstate 77 north to Bland, Bluefield, Beckley, and Charleston, West Virginia. Photo taken 07/16/05.
One half mile west of the Exit 72 trumpet interchange with Interstate 77 north on Interstate 81 & U.S. 52 south. Photo taken 07/16/05.
Interstate 77 opened to traffic between Wytheville and Bland by 1972. Travelers headed north to Bluefield must travel through two tunnels, one at Big Walker Mountain and another at East River Mountain Tunnel at the state line. Photo taken 07/16/05.
Interstate 77-U.S. 52 south & Interstate 81 north
Shortly after combining, Interstate 81 & U.S. 52 north and Interstate 77 south enter a trumpet interchange with U.S. 11 (Main Street) in Wytheville. U.S. 11 leads west to Wytheville Community College and downtown from Exit 73. Photo taken 10/02/10.
Exit 73 departs Interstates 77-81 & U.S. 52 east beyond the Lithia Road overpass onto U.S. 11 (East Main Street) south. U.S. 11 north joins the trio east; its original alignment parallels the freeway as a frontage roads (Nye Road). Photo taken 06/17/05. Second photo taken 10/02/10.
Interstate 77-U.S. 52 south & Interstate 81-U.S. 11 north
Interstate 81 & U.S. 52 north and Interstate 77 & U.S. 11 south form what is commonly referred to the road community as a "wrong way multiplex". The eight-mile overlap between Interstates 77 & 81 travel primarly east-west between Wytheville and Fort Chiswell. Pictured here is the first shield assembly for all four at a Norfolk Southern Railroad under pass east of Exit 73. Photo taken 06/17/05.
Interstate 81 & U.S. 11 north travel together through to Exit 89 south of Pulaski. Interstate 77 ventures south to Statesville and Charlotte, North Carolina. U.S. 52 mirrors the corridor to near Mount Airy, North Carolina. Photo taken 10/02/10.
Crossing Reed Creek along Interstate 77-U.S. 52 south & Interstate 81-U.S. 11 north. Original U.S. 11 (Lee Highway) travels along the north side of the freeway; Chapman Road continues as the south side service road. Photo taken 06/17/05.
Exit 77 provides access to old U.S. 11 & 52 (Lee Highway) and Chapman Road via a diamond interchange. Photo taken 10/02/10.
A number of travelers services can be found on the adjacent frontage roads at Exit 77. Lee Highway and Chapman Road continue along side Interstates 77-81 and U.S. 11-52 through to Fort Chiswell Road (Exit 80). Photo taken 06/17/05. Second photo taken 10/02/10.
Six lanes of freeway continue between Exits 77 and 80. The second and final set of reassurance shields for Interstates 77-81 & U.S. 11-52 follow the on-ramp from Ready Mix Road (the connector between the service roads). Photo taken 06/17/05.
Interstate 77 south will split from Interstate 81 & U.S. 11 north in three miles at Exit 80. The corridor is scenic on its southward path toward North Carolina. Photo taken 10/02/10.
U.S. 52 leaves the overlap first, following Fort Chiswell Road southward from the Exit 80 diamond interchange with Virginia 121 north to Poplar Camp. Virginia 121 begins and travels 1.83 miles north to Max Meadows. Photo taken 10/02/10.
Exit 80 leaves Interstates 77-81 & U.S. 11 for U.S. 52 (Fort Chiswell Road) south and Virginia 121 (Max Meadows Road) north into Fort Chiswell. The numbering of Virginia 121 relates to the original U.S. 121 corridor between Fort Chiswell and Lexington, North Carolina. This route was vastly absorbed by U.S. 52 in 1935.1 Photo taken 10/02/10.
Ascending along U.S. 52 east at Exit 80 to its turn onto Fort Chiswell Road south. U.S. 52 parallels Interstate 77 closely through Poplar Camp, Hillsville, Fancy Gap, and Cana before entering N.C. Photo taken 07/16/05.
Interstate 77-U.S. 52 north & Interstate 81-U.S. 11 south
The four-way overlap of Interstate 77 north & 81 south and U.S. 11 & 52 involves two north and southbound components traveling in the same direction (U.S. 11 south & U.S. 52 north). Photo taken 10/02/10.
Westbound mileage sign posted eight miles out from Wytheville and the split of all routes. Bluefield lies 37 miles to the north across the West Virginia state line via Interstate 77 and U.S. 52. Bristol is 76 miles to the southwest via Interstate 81 and U.S. 11. Photo taken 10/02/10.
One mile east of Exit 77 with Ready Mix Road. The diamond interchange provides access to old U.S. 11 & 52 (Lee Highway) and Chapman Road. Photo taken 10/02/10.
A number of travelers services can be found on the adjacent frontage roads at Exit 77. Original U.S. 11 (Lee Highway) travels along the north side of the freeway; Chapman Road continues as the south side service road. Photo taken 10/02/10.
Reassurance shield assembly posted for Interstates 77-81 and U.S. 11-52 north after Exit 77. The freeway travels a wide valley between Lick Mountain and Brushy Ridge. Photo taken 10/02/10.
U.S. 11 southbound departs Interstate 77 & U.S. 52 north and Interstate 81 southbound at the Exit 73 trumpet interchange in one mile. Photo taken 10/02/10.
Interstate 77 leaves Interstate 81 & U.S. 52 immediately after the split with U.S. 11 south at Main Street in Wytheville. A diagrammatic overhead indicates two lanes of travel are available for each Interstate at Exit 72. Photo taken 10/02/10.
Nye Road appears along the north side of Interstates 77-81 on the half mile approach to Exit 73. U.S. 11 rejoins its former alignment along Main Street through downtown Wytheville. Photo taken 10/02/10.
Main Street comprises a commercial arterial through to the Wytheville street grid outside downtown. Within downtown, U.S. 11 shares a four block overlap with U.S. 21 before exiting via Lee Highway along Pine Ridge. Photo taken 10/02/10.
Interstate 77-U.S. 52 north & Interstate 81 south
One mile southeast of the Exit 72 split of Interstates 77 north and 81 south. Interstate 81 follows a northerly arc to bypass Wytheville as Interstate 77 winds northward across Cove Mountain to Walker Mountain Tunnel on the 27 mile trek to West Virginia. Photo taken 10/02/10.
New guide signs for Exit 72 include the capital city of Charleston for Interstate 77 north. Interstate 77 continues its 610-mile route north from Wytheville to Parkersburg, Canton, Akron and Cleveland. Interstate 81 continues along the Appalachian Mountains, with the Tri-Cities of Tennessee remaining along the 855-mile route. Photo taken 10/02/10.
The final shield assembly for the 8.80-mile overlap of Interstates 77 north & 81 south. Photo taken 10/02/10.
Interstate 77 & U.S. 52 northbound and Interstate 81 southbound expand to four lanes at the Exit 72 split. The western end of the overlap is handled by a trumpet interchange. Photo taken 10/02/10.
Interstate 81 south & U.S. 52 north
U.S. 52 continues another two miles on Interstate 81 to Exit 70. There the US highway departs for 4th Street and its original alignment. Photo taken 10/02/10.
Entering the Exit 70 diamond interchange with 4th Street on Interstate 81 south. U.S. 21 begins and follows 4th Street into downtown Wytheville, merging with U.S. 11 (Main Street) briefly. U.S. 52 continues 4th Street west to Crowgeys.
U.S. 21 traveled to Cleveland until 1980, but was truncated due to its close proximity to Interstate 77 from Wytheville northward. Photo taken 10/02/10.
U.S. 52 north
U.S. 52 continues away from Wytheville and Interstate 81 on a 20-mile drive to Bland. U.S. 21 used to continue north with U.S. 52. Photo taken 07/16/05.
Interstate 77 & U.S. 52 north
Interstate 77 & U.S. 52 northbound at the Exit 66 under crossing of Virginia 598. The East River Mountain Tunnel lies ahead. Photo taken 10/05/01.
The second of two Interstate 77 tunnels, the East River Mountain Tunnel lies along the Virginia and West Virginia state border. Photo taken 09/29/10.
Entering the northbound bore of the East River Mountain Tunnel of Interstate 77 & U.S. 52. U.S. 52 departs the freeway via Cumberland Road (Exit 1) at the north end of the tunnel. Photo taken 10/05/01.
Interstate 77 & U.S. 52 north enter West Virginia near the center of the 5,412 foot long East River Mountain Tunnel. Photo taken 09/29/10.
Scenes pertaining to U.S. 52
Ridge Road (Virginia Secondary 656) meanders northward from U.S. 11 at Petunia to U.S. 52 outside Wytheville (Stony Fork Road). A set of cutouts remains in place at the rural intersection west of Crowgeys.
U.S. 21 used to overlap along this stretch of roadway as well. Photos taken 09/29/10.

Sources:

  1. US 21 and branches @ Virginia Highways Project.
Photo Credits:
  • 2001-10-05 by AARoads.
  • 2005-06-17 by AARoads.
  • 2005-07-16 by AARoads.
  • 2010-09-29 by AARoads and Carter Buchanan.
  • 2010-10-02 by AARoads and Carter Buchanan.

Connect with:
U.S. Highway 11
U.S. Highway 21
Interstate 77
Interstate 81

Page Updated 02-14-2013.

 
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