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Author Topic: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia  (Read 5650 times)

Brandon

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I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« on: May 19, 2020, 05:50:53 PM »

A silly question.  Why does I-64 go so far south between Charleston, WV and Staunton, VA via Beckley, WV and Lexington, VA?  The terrain doesn't seem all that different than if I-64 had just gone directly east of Charleston to Staunton.
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sprjus4

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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #1 on: May 19, 2020, 05:54:08 PM »

A direct routing between Staunton and Charleston would've required over 160 miles of new terrain construction.

The current routing takes advantage of the diagonal alignments of I-81 and I-77 and only required about 120 miles of new terrain construction in between.

It's longer, but required less construction and took advantage of other interstates where possible.

Beckley is also a larger city for West Virginia standards, and I-64 is able to serve it from the east with the current routing.

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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #2 on: May 19, 2020, 07:06:49 PM »

If I remember correctly, the section of I-79 east of Charleston wasn't even planned to be part of the original interstate system.

On a family trip to DC, long before I-64 was finished between Beckley and Sam Black Church, and long before the WV Turnpike was widened, we took I-79, the then US 48 and US 40 to I-70. The preferred route from my area of Kentucky to DC back then was to hit I-81 at Abingdon and go all the way to I-66.

I still remember my dad complaining about it taking four hours to drive from White Sulphur Springs to Charleston on what existed of I-64 and US 60 on our way home from a family vacation back in the late 1960s or early 1970s.

The two-hour drive between Beckley and Lexington on I-64 is quite scenic and not heavily traveled.
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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #3 on: May 19, 2020, 07:58:09 PM »

I think they did study a more direct alignment once, but as sprjus cites, cost became a factor.

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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #4 on: May 19, 2020, 11:02:59 PM »

If I remember correctly, the section of I-79 east of Charleston wasn't even planned to be part of the original interstate system.

East?  Or North?

On a family trip to DC, long before I-64 was finished between Beckley and Sam Black Church, and long before the WV Turnpike was widened, we took I-79, the then US 48 and US 40 to I-70. The preferred route from my area of Kentucky to DC back then was to hit I-81 at Abingdon and go all the way to I-66.

I still remember my dad complaining about it taking four hours to drive from White Sulphur Springs to Charleston on what existed of I-64 and US 60 on our way home from a family vacation back in the late 1960s or early 1970s.

Yeah, U.S. 60 between Sam Black Church and the edge of Charleston is about 85 miles of hard driving on a twisting road with some steep grades, especially if you are stuck behind many commercial vehicles, as drivers probably were before I-64 was completed between Lexington, Virginia and Beckley, West Virginia.

The two-hour drive between Beckley and Lexington on I-64 is quite scenic and not heavily traveled.

Agreed.

I was surprised by how few heavy commercial vehicles were on that segment of the system.   I would think that there were would be at least some commercial vehicles headed to and from the Ports of Virginia around Hampton Roads, and some of that traffic would use I-64 from states like West Virginia, Kentucky and Indiana.  Or are all of the trucks going to the Virginia Inland Port in Front Royal instead?
« Last Edit: May 19, 2020, 11:08:37 PM by cpzilliacus »
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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #5 on: May 19, 2020, 11:39:43 PM »

I don't think that anywhere along a direct route matches the size of Covington or White Sulfur Springs. Also it follows US 60.

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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #6 on: May 20, 2020, 02:50:31 AM »

Like Roadgeekteen said: I-64 was originally designed to follow US 60 from Lexington to Louisville.

The reason it was only completed to Sam Black Church by 1973 was that WV was debating whether to continue to follow the mountainous 85 miles of US 60 to Charleston or consider a shorter 33-36 mile* new terrain route straight west to Beckley.  As we know, the shorter route was chosen--although it did not fully open until 1988.

One way I-64 could have been routed to Staunton on more of a "straight" line would be to follow current I-79 to Sutton, follow current WV 15 east, passing US 219, have new terrain routing to US 250 in Durbin, then (sort of) follow US 250 to Staunton where it would pick up current I-64 at I-81's Exit 221.  OF course, this would require 160 miles of new highway through very mountainous areas.  Big time costs.  Plus, no decent sized cities/towns along that way (except Monterey, maybe).  The path chosen was the correct one--even with dealing with Sandstone Mountain (7% grade) in a commercial vehicle.

*- I am not sure if the section of I-64 from the WV Turnpike to the Joe L. Smith Drive interchange was complete before the rest of I-64 was started or if the I-64 project was from the Turnpike to Sam Black Church.  The first time I drove around Beckley was 1994.  Someone like HB Elkins, Beltway, or the gentlemen from the Va. Highways Project may know.
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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #7 on: May 20, 2020, 07:28:02 AM »

Like Roadgeekteen said: I-64 was originally designed to follow US 60 from Lexington to Louisville.

The reason it was only completed to Sam Black Church by 1973 was that WV was debating whether to continue to follow the mountainous 85 miles of US 60 to Charleston or consider a shorter 33-36 mile* new terrain route straight west to Beckley.  As we know, the shorter route was chosen--although it did not fully open until 1988.

One way I-64 could have been routed to Staunton on more of a "straight" line would be to follow current I-79 to Sutton, follow current WV 15 east, passing US 219, have new terrain routing to US 250 in Durbin, then (sort of) follow US 250 to Staunton where it would pick up current I-64 at I-81's Exit 221.  OF course, this would require 160 miles of new highway through very mountainous areas.  Big time costs.  Plus, no decent sized cities/towns along that way (except Monterey, maybe).  The path chosen was the correct one--even with dealing with Sandstone Mountain (7% grade) in a commercial vehicle.

*- I am not sure if the section of I-64 from the WV Turnpike to the Joe L. Smith Drive interchange was complete before the rest of I-64 was started or if the I-64 project was from the Turnpike to Sam Black Church.  The first time I drove around Beckley was 1994.  Someone like HB Elkins, Beltway, or the gentlemen from the Va. Highways Project may know.

I’m fairly certain that all of I-64 from the Turnpike to Sam Black Church opened at the same time.

Also, it’s possible that the Feds did not want a more direct route like you have described between Sutton and Staunton because it would pass too close to the National Radio Astronomy Observatory.  It has a 100-mile radius “quiet zone”.
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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #8 on: May 20, 2020, 09:08:24 AM »

A silly question.  Why does I-64 go so far south between Charleston, WV and Staunton, VA via Beckley, WV and Lexington, VA?  The terrain doesn't seem all that different than if I-64 had just gone directly east of Charleston to Staunton.

Going in the other direction, the Lexington/Beckley routing would be just fine had Lynchburg not lost to Charlottesville in the routing of I-64 across Virginia. Southwest Virginia would also have come out ahead with a shorter trip to Richmond via interstate that passed Lynchburg.

Bruce in Blacksburg
 
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sprjus4

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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #9 on: May 20, 2020, 09:24:29 AM »

A silly question.  Why does I-64 go so far south between Charleston, WV and Staunton, VA via Beckley, WV and Lexington, VA?  The terrain doesn't seem all that different than if I-64 had just gone directly east of Charleston to Staunton.

Going in the other direction, the Lexington/Beckley routing would be just fine had Lynchburg not lost to Charlottesville in the routing of I-64 across Virginia. Southwest Virginia would also have come out ahead with a shorter trip to Richmond via interstate that passed Lynchburg.

Bruce in Blacksburg
An interstate through Lynchburg would've eliminated the I-64 East to I-81 North (and vice versa) and I-64 West to I-81 North (and vice versa) connections though as it would've followed US-220 down to near Roanoke, then the US-460 / US-360 corridor eastward.

A US-60 routing would be roughly the same distance as the current US-250 routing is.
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Brandon

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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #10 on: May 20, 2020, 09:42:55 AM »

A silly question.  Why does I-64 go so far south between Charleston, WV and Staunton, VA via Beckley, WV and Lexington, VA?  The terrain doesn't seem all that different than if I-64 had just gone directly east of Charleston to Staunton.

Going in the other direction, the Lexington/Beckley routing would be just fine had Lynchburg not lost to Charlottesville in the routing of I-64 across Virginia. Southwest Virginia would also have come out ahead with a shorter trip to Richmond via interstate that passed Lynchburg.

Bruce in Blacksburg

Then maybe my question is a bit off, and should be: Why was the Charlottesville route chosen instead of a route via Lynchburg?  University of Virginia, perhaps?
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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #11 on: May 20, 2020, 09:46:38 AM »

From Roads to the Future...
Quote
There was a controversy in the early years of the Interstate highway system, over the location of I-64 between Clifton Forge and Richmond. Cities along a proposed northern route wanted the Interstate to go there, and cities along a proposed southern route wanted the Interstate to go there. The proposed southern route called for the Interstate to follow from Richmond via US-360 and US-460, via Lynchburg to Roanoke and US-220 from Roanoke to Clifton Forge, then west following US-60 into West Virginia. The northern route paralleled US-250 from Richmond to Staunton and then US-11 from Staunton to Lexington, then US-60 from Lexington to Clifton Forge and the West Virginia line. The initial 1957 recommendation by a state-retained engineering consultant was for the northern route, and in 1959 the state actually did change the location to the southern route, but in 1961 the federal government overturned that in favor of the northern route. This controversy began in 1957 and was not fully resolved until 1963. The northern route was chosen in 1961, and a smaller controversy over routing the highway either just north of Charlottesville of just south of Charlottesville, was not resolved until 1963. See: Charlottesville won, and Lynchburg lost / Routing of I-64 was major tussle, by Richmond Times-Dispatch, 1999. Here is a map from a 1961 VDH I-64 Location Study, from Non-Indiana Highway Materials of Northwest Indiana Highways.

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Brandon

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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #12 on: May 20, 2020, 10:06:07 AM »

^^ The southern route would've, IMHO, been better as it serves Roanoke and Lynchburg, both larger cities, respectively, than Staunton and Charlottesville.
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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #13 on: May 20, 2020, 10:06:57 AM »



Then maybe my question is a bit off, and should be: Why was the Charlottesville route chosen instead of a route via Lynchburg?  University of Virginia, perhaps?

The Bureau of Public Roads forced the northern route out of Richmond.  The CTB repeatedly voted for the southern route and fought the BPR decision before finally giving up.

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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #14 on: May 20, 2020, 10:43:37 AM »



Then maybe my question is a bit off, and should be: Why was the Charlottesville route chosen instead of a route via Lynchburg?  University of Virginia, perhaps?

The Bureau of Public Roads forced the northern route out of Richmond.  The CTB repeatedly voted for the southern route and fought the BPR decision before finally giving up.
Is it because the northern route had significantly less new terrain mileage to be constructed?
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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #15 on: May 20, 2020, 10:49:04 AM »

If I remember correctly, the section of I-79 east of Charleston wasn't even planned to be part of the original interstate system.

East?  Or North?

The signs say north, but you're really going east from Charleston to the Sutton vicinity. The route is pretty curvy, but as much as I've traveled it, I've noted that there's a location where it becomes pretty obvious when the direction of travel changes from a mainly E-W orientation to a mainly N-S orientation. Once you identify the location on a map and correlate it with the location on the roadway as you travel, it's readily apparent.

https://goo.gl/maps/8anHGWpxgDgTx3t3A

(I really wish this forum had the ability to embed a map using the code Google Maps offers as displayed below...)

<iframe src="https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m14!1m12!1m3!1d49866.71440102161!2d-80.77414909473686!3d38.63348014331229!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1589986033770!5m2!1sen!2sus" width="600" height="450" frameborder="0" style="border:0;" allowfullscreen="" aria-hidden="false" tabindex="0"></iframe>
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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #16 on: May 20, 2020, 10:57:01 AM »



Then maybe my question is a bit off, and should be: Why was the Charlottesville route chosen instead of a route via Lynchburg?  University of Virginia, perhaps?

The Bureau of Public Roads forced the northern route out of Richmond.  The CTB repeatedly voted for the southern route and fought the BPR decision before finally giving up.
Is it because the northern route had significantly less new terrain mileage to be constructed?
Probably, as the northern route can use parts of I-81.

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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #17 on: May 20, 2020, 11:58:32 AM »



Then maybe my question is a bit off, and should be: Why was the Charlottesville route chosen instead of a route via Lynchburg?  University of Virginia, perhaps?

The Bureau of Public Roads forced the northern route out of Richmond.  The CTB repeatedly voted for the southern route and fought the BPR decision before finally giving up.
Is it because the northern route had significantly less new terrain mileage to be constructed?

The CTB said the BPR provided "insufficient reasons" but didn't say what they were...

See pdf pg 14 at http://www.ctb.virginia.gov/meetings/minutes_pdf/CTB-03-1961-01.pdf
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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #18 on: May 20, 2020, 01:41:46 PM »

^^ The southern route would've, IMHO, been better as it serves Roanoke and Lynchburg, both larger cities, respectively, than Staunton and Charlottesville.
Served-ish Roanoke. It's also a less intuitive routing overall and had more new-mileage construction. A straight line from Lynchburg to Lexington would have been nice to see as an alternative.

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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #19 on: May 20, 2020, 07:05:43 PM »

If I remember correctly, the section of I-79 east of Charleston wasn't even planned to be part of the original interstate system.

East?  Or North?

The signs say north, but you're really going east from Charleston to the Sutton vicinity. The route is pretty curvy, but as much as I've traveled it, I've noted that there's a location where it becomes pretty obvious when the direction of travel changes from a mainly E-W orientation to a mainly N-S orientation. Once you identify the location on a map and correlate it with the location on the roadway as you travel, it's readily apparent.

https://goo.gl/maps/8anHGWpxgDgTx3t3A

That makes sense.  A miniature version of I-85 in much of North Carolina, where this (in theory) N-S corridor is running E-W.


(I really wish this forum had the ability to embed a map using the code Google Maps offers as displayed below...)

<iframe src="https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m14!1m12!1m3!1d49866.71440102161!2d-80.77414909473686!3d38.63348014331229!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1589986033770!5m2!1sen!2sus" width="600" height="450" frameborder="0" style="border:0;" allowfullscreen="" aria-hidden="false" tabindex="0"></iframe>

Not sure what is involved in implementing that.
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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #20 on: May 20, 2020, 07:27:43 PM »


(I really wish this forum had the ability to embed a map using the code Google Maps offers as displayed below...)

<iframe src="https://www.google.com/maps/embed?pb=!1m14!1m12!1m3!1d49866.71440102161!2d-80.77414909473686!3d38.63348014331229!2m3!1f0!2f0!3f0!3m2!1i1024!2i768!4f13.1!5e0!3m2!1sen!2sus!4v1589986033770!5m2!1sen!2sus" width="600" height="450" frameborder="0" style="border:0;" allowfullscreen="" aria-hidden="false" tabindex="0"></iframe>

Not sure what is involved in implementing that.

There used to be a way to do it with Google APIs, but it stopped working when the APIs stopped being free.
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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #21 on: May 21, 2020, 10:14:34 AM »


An interstate through Lynchburg would've eliminated the I-64 East to I-81 North (and vice versa) and I-64 West to I-81 North (and vice versa) connections though as it would've followed US-220 down to near Roanoke, then the US-460 / US-360 corridor eastward.

A US-60 routing would be roughly the same distance as the current US-250 routing is.

It's not so much distance as it is travel time. Taking U.S. 460 to Lynchburg and beyond, then U.S. 360 into Richmond involves a number of locations with traffic lights, lower speed limits, and traffic that increase travel time. A limited-access highway all the way between I-81 (somewhere between Troutville and Lexington) and Richmond would decrease travel time.
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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #22 on: May 21, 2020, 10:16:12 AM »


Then maybe my question is a bit off, and should be: Why was the Charlottesville route chosen instead of a route via Lynchburg?  University of Virginia, perhaps?

Not sure, but the routing gave rise to simple directions from Blacksburg (Virginia Tech) to Whooville: "North until you smell it, then east until you step in it."  :-D
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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #23 on: May 21, 2020, 10:22:02 AM »


Then maybe my question is a bit off, and should be: Why was the Charlottesville route chosen instead of a route via Lynchburg?  University of Virginia, perhaps?

Not sure, but the routing gave rise to simple directions from Blacksburg (Virginia Tech) to Whooville: "North until you smell it, then east until you step in it."  :-D


I had always heard that to get to VPI—which, of course, was founded as an agricultural institution named Virginia A&M—you go south on I-81 until you smell it, then north until you step in it.

Setting that aside, it is pretty damn interesting that the most direct exit to UVA from I-64 is Exit 118B (to US-29) and the most direct exit to VPI from I-81 is also Exit 118B (to US-460). That is one of the more bizarre coincidences I've ever seen.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2020, 10:25:15 AM by 1995hoo »
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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #24 on: May 21, 2020, 10:23:54 AM »


An interstate through Lynchburg would've eliminated the I-64 East to I-81 North (and vice versa) and I-64 West to I-81 North (and vice versa) connections though as it would've followed US-220 down to near Roanoke, then the US-460 / US-360 corridor eastward.

A US-60 routing would be roughly the same distance as the current US-250 routing is.

It's not so much distance as it is travel time. Taking U.S. 460 to Lynchburg and beyond, then U.S. 360 into Richmond involves a number of locations with traffic lights, lower speed limits, and traffic that increase travel time. A limited-access highway all the way between I-81 (somewhere between Troutville and Lexington) and Richmond would decrease travel time.
A limited-access highway along US-460 with a posted speed limit of 70 mph between I-81 north of Roanoke and the VA-288 beltway would decrease about 30 minutes of travel time off of the US-460 routing, resulting in being about 10 to 15 minutes faster than present-day I-64.

It would, however, eliminate connections from I-64 West to I-81 North, and I-64 East to I-81 North that would have to be handled by arterial corridors.

Charlottesville and Lynchburg would switch roles, with Lynchburg being on an east-west interstate highway and Charlottesville with none. There would likely be more support for a US-29 freeway upgrade near Charlottesville since they would have no access, unlike today where they don't seem to care for anything besides I-64, opposing and rejecting any US-29 freeway concept, whereas Lynchburg on a southern I-64 may not have as much support for a north-south freeway, unlike today where they have supported a US-29 freeway concept from Lynchburg to North Carolina, and had little opposition to the 2005 Madison Heights Bypass.

If a US-460 routing was chosen for I-64, US-250 would've likely been dualized to a non-limited-access 4 lane highway in the manner that US-460 and US-360 were throughout the 1960s and 1970s, with freeway bypasses near Charlottesville and Waynesboro (or rather a traffic light infested bypass near Waynesboro, and either a substandard 55 mph (like US-29) freeway near Charlottesville, or higher quality 65 mph freeway (like US-460 near Lynchburg)), a twisty, narrow typical Virginia 4 lane through Afton Mountain, and a toll road / freeway built out to at least Short Pump in the manner that the Powhite Pkwy was.
« Last Edit: May 21, 2020, 10:30:36 AM by sprjus4 »
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