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Author Topic: Great Western Road Trip of 2021 (Days 10-End)  (Read 800 times)

hbelkins

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Great Western Road Trip of 2021 (Days 10-End)
« on: August 27, 2021, 08:32:11 PM »

Got back home last night after finishing off the trip.

Day 10 (ID to UT with a side of AZ)


Left Arco, Idaho, on this day and headed south. Route was US 26 to I-15, to US 6 (picking up US 191 along the way) to US 163. Spent the night in Mexican Hat, where there seem to be more motels than any other business.

Not bad drive through SLC, as traffic wasn't bad at all. Noted the toll HOV lanes but couldn't really tell how the toll is collected; if it's bill-by-plate or if there is a transponder involved.

US 6 between American Fork and Green River was quite busy. There may have been more traffic on it than on the short section of I-70 we used. This road could definitely benefit from being four lanes, if not a full-fledged freeway.

Utah's interstate signs seem to run 50-50 state name vs. no state name.

Some of the highest gas prices we encountered on this trip were in Idaho and Utah. Close to $4 a gallon in some places. Is this a function of high taxes?

US 191 was an enjoyable drive down to where US 163 begins. No more "Former US 666" signage at Monticello where US 491 begins.

After checking in to our motel room in Mexican Hat, we continued south on US 163 into Monument Valley. My brother was trying to find a specific rock formation background where he had photographed a full moon years ago. We thought we found the spot, but the moon hadn't risen yet. We drove on to Kayenta (completing a clinch of US 163 in one sitting) and found gas for a more reasonable $3.199 there. It was clouding up and lightning was flashing off in the distance so he wasn't able to recreate that picture because the full moon was obscured.

A roundabout has been built just inside the Utah line at the entrance to the tribal Monument Valley park. Seems like an odd place out in the middle of nowhere in a rural area for one. The tribal park road into their section of Monument Valley was closed due to recent storm damage (it reopened two days after we were in the area.)

Day 11 (UT-CO)

Much of this day was spent sightseeing. We headed back north, detouring off UT 261 to visit Goosenecks State Park. There are a bunch of error US 261 and US 316 signs (in place of Utah state route signage) at the intersection.

We drove up the Moki Dugway, noting that the hairpin curves have been paved to provide traction. Since UT 95 was closed between UT 261 and US 163, we came back down the Dugway, which provides some impressive views. Then we took the San Juan County road through Valley of the Gods, coming back out on US 163.

From there, we went to Arches National Park and then the northern section of Canyonlands. After that, it was back north on US 191 and then east on I-70 to Grand Junction.

Both Colorado and Utah are terrible for signing their US-interstate route concurrencies. At least on US 6/US 191, the signage indicates you are intersecting both I-70 and US 50, but no signs of the US routes riding along with I-70.

Day 12 (CO)

This entire day was spent in one state.

Colorado has been overtaken by the roundabout virus. Those infernal things are everywhere.

Drove through Glenwood Canyon, noting the damage and some of the repairs being done. There appeared to have been several spots impacted by the slides other than the one that got the most attention. Places where mud had slid across the road, and bridge rails and guardrails had been taken out, were common through that stretch.

By using I-70 between the state line and Grand Junction, and the Glenwood Canyon section which wasn't completed when I was last in the area in 1991, I got a clinch of I-70 in Colorado.

We decided to drive up to Mt. Evans, the highest paved road (CO 5) in North America. Although you have to pay a fee at the entrance to the drive, and you have to reserve an appointment to drive up the summit, the road is maintained by the state and not the Forest Service, BLM, NPS, or other federal agency.

Colorado seems to be in the final stages of building a quite narrow toll HOV route in the Idaho Springs area. There's also very visible construction on an HOV toll facility in Denver.

Traffic wasn't as bad in Denver as I expected.

Colorado seems to be about 50-50 on state-named interstate signs.

Overnight was in Burlington.

Day 13 (CO-KS-MO-IL)

After Mt. Evans, the mission of the trip became "head home" so we didn't deviate off a straight route.

The time change from Mountain to Central seems to occur in a random place in Kansas. It's at an underpass on I-70, not at a county line.

Kansas does a much better job of signing concurrencies between interstate and US routes than does Colorado. And most of the business loops are business versions of the ride-along US highway (24 or 40) than green interstates.

The drive was pretty uneventful until we got to the Kansas City area. We took the I-670 "shortcut" but it's not well thought-out. I-670 eastbound narrows to one lane, and then through I-35 traffic has to weave to continue straight. This resulted in some slowdowns, and there was stop-and-go traffic for awhile past the alphabet soup loop.

I know I-70 in Missouri gets a bad rap, but I honestly don't see why. Traffic thinned out considerably about 35-40 miles out of the downtown area, the road appeared to be in good shape, and there were not any significant slowdowns or signs of congestion.

It was getting dark as we approached St. Louis, so I didn't get to see a whole lot, but we did cross the Stan Span. I'm not sure how the Illinois side was configured. Signage on the Missouri side says "I-70 East, to I-55 North, to I-64 East" and "I-44 West, to I-55 South." Yet on the Illinois side, you don't see any options for I-55 south. The exit to I-64 East has no options for taking I-55 back across the Poplar Street bridge, so I don't know where I-55 southbound traffic has its decision point for I-70 west, or to stay on I-55 south or to use I-64. I think I-55 stayed on the Poplar Street bridge along with I-64.

Overnight was just off I-64 in Illinois, well away from East St. Louis, in Fairview Heights.

Day 14 (IL-IN-KY to home)

Again, this leg of the trip was just to get home, but was not without its moments.

Not a whole lot to report from previous trips along I-64, although the monument to stupidity that is the need to put "Il" after "Nashville" on the exit sign is now in Clearview.

After lunch in Corydon, my brother put WHAS 840 on the radio and as we were passing along the riverfront on I-64 in Louisville, they mentioned a wreck on southbound I-71 that had traffic stacked for miles. On a whim I decided to see how it looked on Waze. Waze advised us to exit I-71 onto the Watterson (I-264) and then use US 42 and KY 841 to reconnect to I-71 northbound, and then WHAS said there were major backups between the Watterson and Gene Snyder. So we ended up taking US 42 all the way to KY 153, and then over to I-71. The southbound backup was extending all the way to that exit, well away from LaGrange. We got in some other backups approaching Carrollton but rode it out on I-71 to the KY 35 exit.

I love driving through Frankfort later in the evening, as it's nowhere close to being as crowded as it is during normal daytime hours. Ditto for getting around Lexington on the interstate.

Roadgeek accomplishments for this trip:

Two new states visited (ND and MT)

New counties in MI, WI, MN, ND, MT, and ID.

Clinches of US 2 in MN (I'm counting it because we followed the signed detour) and ND.

Clinches of US 163 in UT and AZ (clinched in one sitting).

Clinch of I-70 in CO.

Re-clinch of I-70 in MO due to using the Stan Span.

Took a crapload of photos and I haven't dumped them off my camera yet. Flickr updates will probably be tricking onto the site for weeks.
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US 89

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Re: Great Western Road Trip of 2021 (Days 10-End)
« Reply #1 on: August 28, 2021, 01:02:32 AM »

Not bad drive through SLC, as traffic wasn't bad at all. Noted the toll HOV lanes but couldn't really tell how the toll is collected; if it's bill-by-plate or if there is a transponder involved.

The toll is collected via an ExpressPass transponder, which you can turn off if you have somebody else in the car with you. There is no mechanism to bill single-occupant vehicles without a transponder, so it's pretty much on the honor system that those vehicles not use the express lane.

Both Colorado and Utah are terrible for signing their US-interstate route concurrencies. At least on US 6/US 191, the signage indicates you are intersecting both I-70 and US 50, but no signs of the US routes riding along with I-70.

Actually, most of Utah's are much better signed than they used to be. There are really only two I/US concurrencies in Utah that are terribly signed, and you found one of them (the other is 80/189 east of SLC).

The time change from Mountain to Central seems to occur in a random place in Kansas. It's at an underpass on I-70, not at a county line.

It may not be signed as such, but that underpass is a section line road that forms the Sherman/Thomas county line.

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Re: Great Western Road Trip of 2021 (Days 10-End)
« Reply #2 on: August 28, 2021, 10:48:20 AM »

US 6 between American Fork and Green River was quite busy. There may have been more traffic on it than on the short section of I-70 we used. This road could definitely benefit from being four lanes, if not a full-fledged freeway.

While there is a desire for 4 lanes through the corridor, it would be very difficult to accomplish in the more constrained portions of the Spanish Fork Canyon.  I think UDOT's done fairly well with the occasional passing lanes between 15 and Price.  That said, the Price bypass could stand to become 4 lanes plus add some additional passing lanes between Price and 70.

Quote
Some of the highest gas prices we encountered on this trip were in Idaho and Utah. Close to $4 a gallon in some places. Is this a function of high taxes?

Idaho and Utah's gas taxes are middle-of-the-road, so it's probably more a case of the remoteness of the region.

Quote
Colorado seems to be in the final stages of building a quite narrow toll HOV route in the Idaho Springs area.

https://www.codot.gov/programs/expresslanes/eastbound-i-70-mountain-express-lane

MnDOT (and presumably other agencies) would call this a dynamic shoulder lane.  When in operation, it's a toll lane.  When not in operation, it's a shoulder.

Quote
I know I-70 in Missouri gets a bad rap, but I honestly don't see why. Traffic thinned out considerably about 35-40 miles out of the downtown area, the road appeared to be in good shape, and there were not any significant slowdowns or signs of congestion.

I-70 across Missouri is a heavily used truck route, so it doesn't take much traffic to tie things up.  It's roughly comparable to the rural portions of I-75 across Kentucky.

Quote
Clinches of US 2 in MN (I'm counting it because we followed the signed detour) and ND.

Cheating (😉), but to each their own...
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formulanone

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Re: Great Western Road Trip of 2021 (Days 10-End)
« Reply #3 on: August 28, 2021, 11:06:22 AM »

Some of the highest gas prices we encountered on this trip were in Idaho and Utah. Close to $4 a gallon in some places. Is this a function of high taxes?

Idaho and Utah's gas taxes are middle-of-the-road, so it's probably more a case of the remoteness of the region.

I visited Grand Junction, Salt Lake City, and Los Angeles this past month; while LA was about 20-25 cents more, the story goes that distribution woes (labor, detours) and wildfires pushed demand higher than supply. Even airlines had to cancel some of the lesser-used/low-capacity routes because of limited fuel reserves. So it was high for the times (yet about what I paid in New York this month).

Before we point fingers at a lack of fuel drivers, let's think about how risky it is driving a sluggish and pokey mobile aluminum bomb and whether that's a job you'd want at any salary.
« Last Edit: August 28, 2021, 11:11:15 AM by formulanone »
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Great Western Road Trip of 2021 (Days 10-End)
« Reply #4 on: August 28, 2021, 12:36:31 PM »

Back in 2016 I noted a error US 95 shield assembly at the north terminus of the Moki Dugway.  Between Mount Evans and Pikes Peak Highway I’ve always found the latter to be more challenging.  Evans starts way higher up and gains elevation very gradually.
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hbelkins

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Re: Great Western Road Trip of 2021 (Days 10-End)
« Reply #5 on: August 30, 2021, 04:13:34 PM »

A couple of observations I failed to include earlier.

First, it was odd to see that in Colorado, diesel is cheaper than regular gas. I'm used to them being the same price, or diesel being more expensive. In most places in Colorado, diesel was cheaper -- in some instances, significantly so. Is that a function of taxation?

Also, the dividing line between Carl's Jr. and Hardee's seems to be the Colorado/Kansas line. And they are definitely NOT the same restaurant despite the branding similarities (and occasional ads featuring both brands.) The menu for Carl's Jr. is decidedly different than Hardee's. Carl's Jr. does not have as many items on the menu as Hardee's, and the burgers are different. I typically don't eat at Hardee's unless I have a coupon because their burgers are more expensive than other places, but I would have gone for a Monster Thickburger at Carl's Jr. That item was not on their menu. Neither was the Frisco Burger, another staple at Hardee's.
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Bruce

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Re: Great Western Road Trip of 2021 (Days 10-End)
« Reply #6 on: August 30, 2021, 08:47:56 PM »

Diesel being cheaper is also common on the West Coast. In Washington, it's usually a good 10 cents cheaper than 87 unleaded.

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Re: Great Western Road Trip of 2021 (Days 10-End)
« Reply #7 on: August 30, 2021, 09:31:03 PM »

First, it was odd to see that in Colorado, diesel is cheaper than regular gas. I'm used to them being the same price, or diesel being more expensive. In most places in Colorado, diesel was cheaper -- in some instances, significantly so. Is that a function of taxation?

Doubtful.  There's only a penny-and-a-half difference between the gas tax and diesel tax in Colorado.
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Re: Great Western Road Trip of 2021 (Days 10-End)
« Reply #8 on: August 31, 2021, 08:24:39 AM »

US 6 between American Fork and Green River was quite busy. There may have been more traffic on it than on the short section of I-70 we used. This road could definitely benefit from being four lanes, if not a full-fledged freeway.

While there is a desire for 4 lanes through the corridor, it would be very difficult to accomplish in the more constrained portions of the Spanish Fork Canyon.  I think UDOT's done fairly well with the occasional passing lanes between 15 and Price.  That said, the Price bypass could stand to become 4 lanes plus add some additional passing lanes between Price and 70.

Agreed that this stretch of highway would benefit from four lanes. Witnessed several aggressive passes from drivers between Price and Green River back in 2016. Slow moving RV's or semi's would accumulate a number of vehicles behind, and the passing lanes are not long enough. I recall this being a similar issue on Arizona Route 85 between I-8 and I-10, which has had some upgrades since I was last on it.

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Re: Great Western Road Trip of 2021 (Days 10-End)
« Reply #9 on: August 31, 2021, 08:40:45 AM »

US 6 between American Fork and Green River was quite busy. There may have been more traffic on it than on the short section of I-70 we used. This road could definitely benefit from being four lanes, if not a full-fledged freeway.

While there is a desire for 4 lanes through the corridor, it would be very difficult to accomplish in the more constrained portions of the Spanish Fork Canyon.  I think UDOT's done fairly well with the occasional passing lanes between 15 and Price.  That said, the Price bypass could stand to become 4 lanes plus add some additional passing lanes between Price and 70.

Agreed that this stretch of highway would benefit from four lanes. Witnessed several aggressive passes from drivers between Price and Green River back in 2016. Slow moving RV's or semi's would accumulate a number of vehicles behind, and the passing lanes are not long enough. I recall this being a similar issue on Arizona Route 85 between I-8 and I-10, which has had some upgrades since I was last on it.

AZ 85 between I-10 and I-8 was brutalizing before the current four lane expansion.  The current expressway solved pretty the entire problem and aside from a bypass of Gila Bend I wouldn’t think a freeway would be needed.  US 93 north of Wickenburg and north Kingman was the same thing but the current expressway designs. 
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Re: Great Western Road Trip of 2021 (Days 10-End)
« Reply #10 on: August 31, 2021, 01:40:32 PM »

The time change from Mountain to Central seems to occur in a random place in Kansas. It's at an underpass on I-70, not at a county line.

It may not be signed as such, but that underpass is a section line road that forms the Sherman/Thomas county line.

It sure used to be signed as such.  I grew up not far from there.

Was this sign recently replaced or something?
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hbelkins

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Re: Great Western Road Trip of 2021 (Days 10-End)
« Reply #11 on: August 31, 2021, 08:28:06 PM »

The time change from Mountain to Central seems to occur in a random place in Kansas. It's at an underpass on I-70, not at a county line.

It may not be signed as such, but that underpass is a section line road that forms the Sherman/Thomas county line.

It sure used to be signed as such.  I grew up not far from there.

Was this sign recently replaced or something?

There was no county line sign there when I passed it last week, and the time zone change sign was at the top of the post assembly.
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Re: Great Western Road Trip of 2021 (Days 10-End)
« Reply #12 on: September 01, 2021, 10:01:52 AM »

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hbelkins

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Re: Great Western Road Trip of 2021 (Days 10-End)
« Reply #13 on: September 14, 2021, 11:02:50 AM »

One thing I neglected to mention about Mt. Evans: While there, I noticed a bunch of odd vehicles, all with similar paint schemes. They were black cars with white lines/streaks that looked like spider webs. There was no lettering on these vehicles, and at least one of them had what looked like a bra-type covering on the doors. Anyone know the significance of these?
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Re: Great Western Road Trip of 2021 (Days 10-End)
« Reply #14 on: September 14, 2021, 02:10:04 PM »

^ Any chance they might have been prototype vehicles of a car manufacturer, testing in high altitude?  They manufacturers try to disguise them so trade publications can't get good pictures.  We see them in Metro Detroit all the time.

I'm not sure how well that works.  A few decades ago, the stripes and patterns might have thrown off cameras or video recorders (kind of like zebra stripes throwing off the lions).  These days with much higher resolution cameras, it might not work that well.
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