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Author Topic: Five-state road trip (KY-OH-WV-VA-TN)  (Read 628 times)

hbelkins

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    • Millennium Highway
Five-state road trip (KY-OH-WV-VA-TN)
« on: May 30, 2021, 09:40:39 PM »

I'm on the second night (currently in Kingsport, Tenn.) of a short trip to check out some construction and new roads, and plenty of old signs.

The first order of business was to check out the construction on the new US 35 route in West Virginia. To access it, I crossed the river at Ironton and took OH 93 to Jackson to hit US 35 there. It's a long 45 miles from Ironton to Jackson. The road is a typical mountain highway in Lawrence County, but is better in Jackson County with some portions that seemingly have been rebuilt.

There's a smattering of button copy left on and along US 35 between Jackson and Gallipolis that I saw, and possibly more that I didn't see.

WV 817 is now signed concurrently with US 35 on the two-lane section, apparently in preparation for when US 35 is relocated. This was my first time on the completed four-lane section of US 35 south of the Silver Memorial Bridge.

I accessed the new US 35 construction from three roads -- Cornstalk Road and Sixteen Mile Road pass under the new road via tall bridges. There's at-grade access from Plantation Road. I did not go up Pond Branch, Black Oak, and Honeycutt roads because they appeared to be very minor roads (Black Oak was gravel) and I doubted there would be access to the new road. So it appears that there will be only one access point between the two current ends of the four-lane.

As far as the road itself, it appears that all that is needed to finish the work are the tie-ins on each end, and final paving. Looks like the new road is going to be paved with asphalt instead of concrete. Hope it holds up better than the old portion from the Buffalo bridge to I-64. That pavement is in terrible shape.

A late start from home, some slow traffic, and persistent rain showers made me decide to backtrack to Huntington to spend the night. I-64 is a mess near Barboursville due to the widening project. A really nice piece of button copy overhead on both sides to show the turn from WV 34 to I-64 eastbound.

This morning, I set out for Beckley to check out the new bypass and the new section of the Coalfields Expressway. It rained much of the day but slacked off for my two new road explorations. I stopped at the rest area near Hurricane to pick up some maps. The style has changed somewhat and the maps are printed on slick paper. Candy bars are $2.10 in the vending machine for a regular size bar. No, thanks.

The transponder on my E-ZPass worked just fine, showed a paid toll of $0.00 at the Cabin Creek and Mossy toll plazas. At Mossy, o followed a Tennessee vehicle that obviously did not have an E-ZPass through an E-ZPass only lane. He got a message saying "Go Call E-Z Pass" after he sat there bewildered for a few minutes.

Exited at Corridor L and drove the new bypass end to end both ways, using I-64 and WV 307 to complete the U-turn. There's some button copy still remaining on overheads at the connector to US 19 on the south end of the bypass.

After that, it was on to the Coalfields Expressway, which is now fully signed as WV 121 for Mullens. The new section is paved with concrete, including the connector to WV 54 which is a very, very steep hill. Unlike the previous end of the road at Slab Fork, there's no sign of any continued work. The route dead-ends into a mountainside right at the left turn to the connector.

From Mullens, I took WV 16 to WV 10 to Princeton. All of WV 10 has a very new surface, and every bridge has been rebuilt. In many cases, banks have been stabilized with concrete tiles where drainage pipes run under the road. A sign indicated this was part of the "Roads to Prosperity" program, and I know WV 10 was a corridor of emphasis.

At Princeton, I took US 19/460 to Bluefield, where some of the construction on US 52 is noticeable beyond the big bridge that crosses US 19 and WV 112. I just wonder if there are any places where one can access the construction zone on US 52 for future exploration.

From there, it was on to Bluefield, Va., with all the sign goodness still in place. Some of the signs at the VA 102 exit have been replaced, including an oval "KY 460" marker.

Then, I made all sorts of trips through Tazewell on US 19/460 Business, VA 16, Alternate VA 16, and VA 16 to snap photos of all the cutouts that are still there.

From there, US 19 south to Abingdon, VA 140 (with circular signs) and I-81 to Bristol, then US 11W to Kingsport.

Did Tennessee and Virginia raise their gas taxes? Gas at the Pounding Mill, Va.. Walmart gas station is usually extremely cheap. Today, it was the same price it is back home ($2.899) and prices are similar in Tennessee. Gas in those two states is normally a lot cheaper than in Kentucky.

Not sure what route I'll take tomorrow. US 23 is the direct, familiar route, but I may try something different just for the heck of it.
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hbelkins

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Re: Five-state road trip (KY-OH-WV-VA-TN)
« Reply #1 on: May 31, 2021, 07:34:55 PM »

Came home today with just a slight detour off the usual route.

I failed to mention yesterday that Tennessee has joined the bandwagon of states banning handheld phone use for drivers. Even "no radar detectors/80 mph is automatically reckless driving" Virginia hasn't gone of that deep end yet.

At Big Stone Gap, I ventured off US 23 onto the business route to check on the status of some cutouts and older signs at the intersection of Alternate US 58 and Business US 23. (They're still there.) Then I crossed into Kentucky via VA/KY 160 across Black Mountain, but I did not venture out to the actual high point which is located out past the FAA radar tower. The grade and alignment are better on the Kentucky side of the mountain, but the pavement is better in Virginia. Kentucky has repaired a number of breaks and replaced a number of cross drains, but they are just filled with gravel and not paved over yet, making for a rough descent down the mountain.

Once to Cumberland I took US 119 north to check out the newest relocated portion. It looks like for now this is the end of construction on US 119 and the ADHS system in Kentucky. About 15 years ago the state made a number of improvements to the existing Pine Mountain crossing, and it's a thousand times better than what it was with wide curves and truck lanes, but it's not a suitable high-speed route such as you'll find everywhere else on the ARC system. From what I understand, the idea of a tunnel under the mountain, which was once floated as a way to complete the corridor, is dead, and Kentucky plans no more improvements, so it looks like Corridor F will remain permanently incomplete.

In Hazard, traffic has shifted onto the new bridge crossing KY 80/KY 550 and the North Fork of the Kentucky River. Demolition of the old bridge will begin in the coming weeks, with a closure of the road under the old bridge scheduled for weekend after next.
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oscar

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Re: Five-state road trip (KY-OH-WV-VA-TN)
« Reply #2 on: May 31, 2021, 08:52:32 PM »

I failed to mention yesterday that Tennessee has joined the bandwagon of states banning handheld phone use for drivers. Even "no radar detectors/80 mph is automatically reckless driving" Virginia hasn't gone of that deep end yet.

The "80 mph is automatically reckless" signs have come down in Virginia, and have not been replaced with ones using the new 85 mph threshold. Apparently, no interest in telling motorists (except by removing the 80 mph signs) that Virginia has lightened up just a little.

The old "20 over the limit" threshold still applies.
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seicer

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Re: Five-state road trip (KY-OH-WV-VA-TN)
« Reply #3 on: May 31, 2021, 08:57:02 PM »

I always suspected that there just wasn't traffic to warrant a tunnel under Pine Mountain for US 119. I would think the state would be better off focusing its efforts west of Harlan in controlling access, providing more passing lanes, and widening portions to four lanes.

hbelkins

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Re: Five-state road trip (KY-OH-WV-VA-TN)
« Reply #4 on: June 01, 2021, 11:22:04 AM »


The "80 mph is automatically reckless" signs have come down in Virginia, and have not been replaced with ones using the new 85 mph threshold. Apparently, no interest in telling motorists (except by removing the 80 mph signs) that Virginia has lightened up just a little.

The old "20 over the limit" threshold still applies.

Odd. I don't remember ever seeing any signs indicating the reckless driving threshold, and I've crossed into Virginia on numerous interstates and other major routes.
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vdeane

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Re: Five-state road trip (KY-OH-WV-VA-TN)
« Reply #5 on: June 01, 2021, 12:37:08 PM »

Not sure when they were put in, and they weren't all on the border; here's one that was somewhere between Richmond and Fredericksburg.
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sprjus4

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Re: Five-state road trip (KY-OH-WV-VA-TN)
« Reply #6 on: June 01, 2021, 01:45:57 PM »

I believe there’s also one somewhere south of Richmond on I-95.

I don’t recall any on I-81, I’ve traveled the entire length of that highway in the state after the law was passed in April 2020.

I thought they were just sticking “5”s over the existing “0” in “80”. Would’ve been the simplest solution.
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