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Author Topic: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia  (Read 5846 times)

hbelkins

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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #50 on: June 07, 2020, 11:35:08 PM »

I can't believe no one has mentioned the political implications. I-79/I-64 were a package deal. It was initially decided I-79 would go south to Beckley, I-64 would follow the alignment of US60 to Charleston. When it was decided I-79 was going to Charleston instead, the southern WV politicians had a fit and Arch Moore (needing support as he was a (R) in a (D) state) compromised with I-64 to Beckley and Corridor L being constructed on the former I-79 alignment. The initial I-64 alignment chosen was more southerly towards Shady Spring and eliminated the Glade Creek and Piney Creek gorge bridges and hence cheaper to construct. Once again, politics stepped in (by this time Rockefeller's decision) and the alignment was changed to provide direct access to Beckley from I-64.

Never heard this take before. SP Cook, care to weigh in on this?

I wonder why I-79 was moved.
Another textbook example of politics gaining more leverage than common sense.
I feel like Charleston is important enough, being the state capital, to justify a connection to the northeast. Really routing it to Beckley only really benefits long distance travel, not sure if WV would be to excited to build that.
I feel like the amount the long-distance traffic is getting screwed outweighs the marginal benefit local traffic has for taking I-79 over I-77/I-70.  Had I-79 been built to Beckley, I doubt people would be thinking much about "I really wish there was a direct interstate from Charleston to Morgantown", but the current situation leaves a very obvious Corridor L-shaped gap in the interstate system.

There is very obviously an in-state need for a good connection between the state capital (Charleston) and the second-largest city (Huntington), and the state's large land-grant and research university.
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Roadgeekteen

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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #51 on: June 08, 2020, 12:38:26 AM »

Put it this way: the current I-79 route is better for West Virginia, the corridor L route would be better for the overall system.

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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #52 on: June 08, 2020, 01:27:45 AM »

There is very obviously an in-state need for a good connection between the state capital (Charleston) and the second-largest city (Huntington), and the state's large land-grant and research university.
Which would still exist...

I-64.
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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #53 on: June 08, 2020, 01:31:53 AM »

IMO, Corridor L or equivalent 4-lane highway should've been built to Charleston and I-79 should've followed current Corridor L down to Beckley.

Both routes carry about 10,000 - 12,000 AADT, and the southern corridor to Beckley has the distinct advantage of serving long-distance traffic.

Long distance traffic from Pittsburgh and points north to I-64 West would simply follow I-70 and I-77 to I-64 at Charleston. Around the same travel time and distance today, obviously I-70 / I-77 would be slightly faster if the connection from I-79 to Charleston was 65 mph divided highway vs. 70 mph I-79.
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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #54 on: June 08, 2020, 01:52:41 AM »

One of the things to consider is that regardless of whether I-64 took its originally-planned route following US 60 east from Charleston or the revised southern route via Beckley, there was going to be some hellacious construction in that neck of the woods.  Since the Kanawha and New River canyons host much of the economic drivers in WV, uprooting them with an Interstate facility (not easy, since rail lines flanked both sides of the valleys) would be politically infeasible as well as exceptionally expensive -- so a cut-and-fill alternative through the adjacent hills would have likely been the route of choice.  That -- and the US 60 alignment would have involved about 50% more mileage than the route eventually selected (although some of that would be offset, cost-wise, by the expansion of the WV Turnpike).  Internal WV politics and infighting notwithstanding, the decision to change the I-64 routing was likely informed by a simple criterion -- minimizing both the cost and timeframe required to deploy the connection from I-77 to the VA state line.  Cutting down the aggregate new-terrain mileage via the Beckley option -- and the fact that expansion of the turnpike to accommodate both Interstates could be itself substantially offset by tolls -- would have likely rendered it the final choice.           
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VTGoose

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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #55 on: June 08, 2020, 09:14:42 AM »

There is very obviously an in-state need for a good connection between the state capital (Charleston) and the second-largest city (Huntington), and the state's large land-grant and research university.
Which would still exist...

I-64.

The "state's large land grant and research university" is in Morgantown, with Clarksburg just to the south. Pre-I-79, there was no good way to get from those cities to Charleston, while at least Beckley and Bluefield had "the modern two-lane highway" in the West Virginia Turnpike and I-77 took care of Parkersburg and that part of the state. I-79, even though it was a long time coming, filled the need to improve travel from the northeast/central (actual northeast is the panhandle that now has I-68) to the capital.

Would I-79 to Beckley be a good thing? As someone who traveled between Blacksburg and Pittsburgh from the mid '70s on, it would have been great. At first there were two alternatives to drive -- I-81 to Winchester, U.S. 522 to I-70 and on to the Pennsylvania Turnpike, then west to the 'Burgh or U.S. 460 to the WVA Turnpike to Charleston, I-77 north to I-70 in Ohio, then east to I-79 and home. As I-79 extended further into West Virginia it had potential, but for a while there was no good way to get from its end in the middle of nowhere to Charleston. Even when almost complete, it required using surface roads to get from I-77 to I-79 until that junction was finally completed. Once construction started on U.S. 19 from Sutton, the trip became a little easier (unless one got stuck in the wrong section of two-lane with no passing and slow traffic). It still took some interesting back roads to get from U.S. 60 to Virginia (I tried just about all of them) until the New River Gorge bridge was completed, and even then, it still required travel through Beckley to get to the Turnpike (another project that took a while, completing the short connector from Bradley to the turnpike).

Bruce in Blacksburg (but a native of the 'Burgh)
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hbelkins

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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #56 on: June 08, 2020, 02:39:12 PM »

There is very obviously an in-state need for a good connection between the state capital (Charleston) and the second-largest city (Huntington), and the state's large land-grant and research university.
Which would still exist...

I-64.

I-64 doesn't go to Morgantown. I-79 does. Without I-79, there would be no good way to get from the "Advantage Valley" to WVU.
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Alps

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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #57 on: June 08, 2020, 06:57:20 PM »

There is very obviously an in-state need for a good connection between the state capital (Charleston) and the second-largest city (Huntington), and the state's large land-grant and research university.
Which would still exist...

I-64.

I-64 doesn't go to Morgantown. I-79 does. Without I-79, there would be no good way to get from the "Advantage Valley" to WVU.
You had said Huntington...

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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #58 on: June 08, 2020, 09:47:56 PM »

^ You missed the comma.  HB was referring to a good connection from both Huntington and Charleston to Morgantown.
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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #59 on: June 08, 2020, 11:00:14 PM »

^ You missed the comma.  HB was referring to a good connection from both Huntington and Charleston to Morgantown.

I clearly wasn't the only one, but there we go, thanks.

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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #60 on: November 28, 2020, 09:20:39 AM »

I can't believe no one has mentioned the political implications. I-79/I-64 were a package deal. It was initially decided I-79 would go south to Beckley, I-64 would follow the alignment of US60 to Charleston. When it was decided I-79 was going to Charleston instead, the southern WV politicians had a fit and Arch Moore (needing support as he was a (R) in a (D) state) compromised with I-64 to Beckley and Corridor L being constructed on the former I-79 alignment. The initial I-64 alignment chosen was more southerly towards Shady Spring and eliminated the Glade Creek and Piney Creek gorge bridges and hence cheaper to construct. Once again, politics stepped in (by this time Rockefeller's decision) and the alignment was changed to provide direct access to Beckley from I-64.



You are correct - 79 was lobbied by Underwood in the late '50s to be extended to Beckley.  When they decided in October 1961 to authorize the 79 extension, it went to Charleston and 64 was moved south.  The official reason was "mileage allocation" and better access to a greater population.  The Beckley folks still cried foul and politics.

Beckley then asked for an interstate grade connector to I-79 and Sutton which eventually evolved into Corridor L.  Here's a map that was in the Beckley Paper showing an early idea of 79 to Beckley.  It pretty much followed 19 exactly.

i79beckley by Adam Prince, on Flickr

(I'm currently working on a feature on this subject for gribblenation.)
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Tom958

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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #61 on: November 29, 2020, 10:59:27 AM »

I was thinking that the decision to put the south end of I-79 in Charleston instead of Beckley was the correct one, but then I decided to try to find some traffic counts. I-79 carries 18-19k vehicles per day north of the junction with US 19, but only 10-11k south of there, building slowly to over 20k nearer to Charleston. US 19 carries under 10k just south of I-79, building to 25k or so at I-77. So, IMO, the choice could've gone either way.
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hbelkins

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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #62 on: November 29, 2020, 03:34:09 PM »

But doing things the way they did enabled the Summersville Police Department to operate a cash cow. I-79 between Charleston and Sutton doesn't run through any incorporated areas the way Corridor L (US 19) does.
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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #63 on: November 29, 2020, 03:45:58 PM »

I was thinking that the decision to put the south end of I-79 in Charleston instead of Beckley was the correct one, but then I decided to try to find some traffic counts. I-79 carries 18-19k vehicles per day north of the junction with US 19, but only 10-11k south of there, building slowly to over 20k nearer to Charleston. US 19 carries under 10k just south of I-79, building to 25k or so at I-77. So, IMO, the choice could've gone either way.
If I-79 ran to Beckley, would some other road have been built as a cutoff to Charleston? I don't know that it would have. Now you get two improved corridors instead of one.

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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #64 on: November 29, 2020, 04:06:59 PM »

If I-79 ran to Beckley, would some other road have been built as a cutoff to Charleston? I don't know that it would have. Now you get two improved corridors instead of one.

Not really. Most of US 19/ Corridor L is on new alignment, though much of it was built as two lanes. The same could've been done with the link to Charleston had I-79 gone to Beckley. I may be cursed and reviled for saying this, but I think the public interest would've been better served if the southernmost 25 miles of each corridor were freeway and the rest lesser facilities. You can have an Interstate highway ending arbitrarily at Canfield WV, though.
« Last Edit: November 29, 2020, 08:21:15 PM by Tom958 »
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CanesFan27

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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #65 on: November 29, 2020, 06:37:37 PM »

But doing things the way they did enabled the Summersville Police Department to operate a cash cow. I-79 between Charleston and Sutton doesn't run through any incorporated areas the way Corridor L (US 19) does.

And that matters how?

If I-79 ran to Beckley, would some other road have been built as a cutoff to Charleston? I don't know that it would have. Now you get two improved corridors instead of one.

Not really. Must of US 19/ Corridor L is on new alignment, though much of it was built as two lanes. The same could've been done with the link to Charleston had I-79 gone to Beckley. I may be cursed and reviled for saying this, but I think the public interest would've been better served if the southernmost 25 miles of each corridor were freeway and the rest lesser facilities. You can have an Interstate highway ending arbitrarily at Canfield WV, though.
I was thinking that the decision to put the south end of I-79 in Charleston instead of Beckley was the correct one, but then I decided to try to find some traffic counts. I-79 carries 18-19k vehicles per day north of the junction with US 19, but only 10-11k south of there, building slowly to over 20k nearer to Charleston. US 19 carries under 10k just south of I-79, building to 25k or so at I-77. So, IMO, the choice could've gone either way.
If I-79 ran to Beckley, would some other road have been built as a cutoff to Charleston? I don't know that it would have. Now you get two improved corridors instead of one.

If 64 stayed on its original route - I don't think there would have.   If 79 and 64 would have met 77 in Beckley, then yes I do think there would be either a Corridor L (maybe a different letter) that followed what is now 79 to Charleston.  Or US 60 or even a WV 39/60 combo from Summersville may have become an ARC corridor.  Or possibly Corridor G would have continued further north and US 119 would have a different route between Charleston and Weston.

It's amazing how much that decision changed the highway network in West Virginia.  I'm still in my early stages in researching in how the decision to go to Charleston vs. Beckley was made.
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Bitmapped

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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #66 on: November 29, 2020, 08:44:56 PM »

If I-79 ran to Beckley, would some other road have been built as a cutoff to Charleston? I don't know that it would have. Now you get two improved corridors instead of one.

Not really. Most of US 19/ Corridor L is on new alignment, though much of it was built as two lanes. The same could've been done with the link to Charleston had I-79 gone to Beckley. I may be cursed and reviled for saying this, but I think the public interest would've been better served if the southernmost 25 miles of each corridor were freeway and the rest lesser facilities. You can have an Interstate highway ending arbitrarily at Canfield WV, though.

I do agree that US 19 should have been built (or upgraded now) to a full freeway south of the New River Gorge Bridge. Thankfully there is the freeway section through Oak Hill, but the rest of this section is becoming littered with traffic signals.
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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #67 on: November 29, 2020, 09:33:55 PM »

I do agree that US 19 should have been built (or upgraded now) to a full freeway south of the New River Gorge Bridge. Thankfully there is the freeway section through Oak Hill, but the rest of this section is becoming littered with traffic signals.

Amazingly, the Oak Hill Expressway is the oldest section of freeway in West Virginia.  Before the Turnpike was completed around the west side of Beckley, the city of Oak Hill was considered the most important town in the Southern coal mining region (except perhaps Bluefield, which was on the N&W mainline).  They still have a television station there (WOAY-4).
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hbelkins

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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #68 on: November 30, 2020, 01:53:33 PM »

But doing things the way they did enabled the Summersville Police Department to operate a cash cow. I-79 between Charleston and Sutton doesn't run through any incorporated areas the way Corridor L (US 19) does.

And that matters how?

It matters to Summersville's bottom line that the routing decisions were made the way they were. There were no similar opportunities for places like, say, Clay to generate revenue from passing motorists, since I-79 doesn't run through the city limits there. If there was a freeway bypass of Summersville, it wouldn't be the speed trap it is known for being.
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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #69 on: November 30, 2020, 03:00:54 PM »

Amazingly, the Oak Hill Expressway is the oldest section of freeway in West Virginia.  Before the Turnpike was completed around the west side of Beckley, the city of Oak Hill was considered the most important town in the Southern coal mining region (except perhaps Bluefield, which was on the N&W mainline).  They still have a television station there (WOAY-4).

The part of US 50 through central Clarksburg predates the Oak Hill bypass by a couple years. US 19 was built 1960-1965ish. US 50 was built 1955-1960.
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sprjus4

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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #70 on: November 30, 2020, 05:09:49 PM »

The segment of US-19 through Summersville needs to have a few interchanges and overpass bridges constructed, and the speed limit increased to 65 mph. Not a cheap project, but it should be looked into. US-19 should at least be upgraded to a free-flowing corridor between I-79 and I-64 / I-77, with signals replaced with interchanges.

It would increase the safety factor their so worried about it that requires their strict enforcement. It's totally not about revenue at all...
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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #71 on: November 30, 2020, 06:22:45 PM »

But doing things the way they did enabled the Summersville Police Department to operate a cash cow. I-79 between Charleston and Sutton doesn't run through any incorporated areas the way Corridor L (US 19) does.

And that matters how?

It matters to Summersville's bottom line that the routing decisions were made the way they were. There were no similar opportunities for places like, say, Clay to generate revenue from passing motorists, since I-79 doesn't run through the city limits there. If there was a freeway bypass of Summersville, it wouldn't be the speed trap it is known for being.

The regional tourism in Summersville and surrounding areas has had more of an impact than any monies from speed enforcement.  If you made that correct point; then yes, Summersville along with Fayetteville to the south has seen a positive impact from Corridor L.

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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #72 on: November 30, 2020, 07:02:35 PM »

If I-79 ran to Beckley, would some other road have been built as a cutoff to Charleston? I don't know that it would have. Now you get two improved corridors instead of one.

Not really. Must of US 19/ Corridor L is on new alignment, though much of it was built as two lanes. The same could've been done with the link to Charleston had I-79 gone to Beckley. I may be cursed and reviled for saying this, but I think the public interest would've been better served if the southernmost 25 miles of each corridor were freeway and the rest lesser facilities. You can have an Interstate highway ending arbitrarily at Canfield WV, though.
I was thinking that the decision to put the south end of I-79 in Charleston instead of Beckley was the correct one, but then I decided to try to find some traffic counts. I-79 carries 18-19k vehicles per day north of the junction with US 19, but only 10-11k south of there, building slowly to over 20k nearer to Charleston. US 19 carries under 10k just south of I-79, building to 25k or so at I-77. So, IMO, the choice could've gone either way.
If I-79 ran to Beckley, would some other road have been built as a cutoff to Charleston? I don't know that it would have. Now you get two improved corridors instead of one.

If 64 stayed on its original route - I don't think there would have.   If 79 and 64 would have met 77 in Beckley, then yes I do think there would be either a Corridor L (maybe a different letter) that followed what is now 79 to Charleston.  Or US 60 or even a WV 39/60 combo from Summersville may have become an ARC corridor.  Or possibly Corridor G would have continued further north and US 119 would have a different route between Charleston and Weston.

It's amazing how much that decision changed the highway network in West Virginia.  I'm still in my early stages in researching in how the decision to go to Charleston vs. Beckley was made.
I think I agree with you on that one. I was looking at the originally proposed map. That said, 77 to 70 really isn't that much worse than 79, such that perhaps you wouldn't have needed that corridor anyway if it wasn't politically motivated.

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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #73 on: November 30, 2020, 07:53:23 PM »

Amazingly, the Oak Hill Expressway is the oldest section of freeway in West Virginia.  Before the Turnpike was completed around the west side of Beckley, the city of Oak Hill was considered the most important town in the Southern coal mining region (except perhaps Bluefield, which was on the N&W mainline).  They still have a television station there (WOAY-4).

The part of US 50 through central Clarksburg predates the Oak Hill bypass by a couple years. US 19 was built 1960-1965ish. US 50 was built 1955-1960.

The factoid about the Oak Hill Expressway as the first four-lane freeway in the states comes from the West Virginia History textbook from the early/mid-1970s.  I can't remember what the date was (nor can I find a date), but the state archives has a right-of-way map from 1960.  But you are technically correct that the Clarksburg Expressway is older.  However, there weren't any exits on the original section of the Clarksburg Expressway (US-50) or its sister Camden Expressway (unposted WV-81, now WV-95).  The freeway section of Camden Avenue is still that way (but unlike Clarksburg, the Camden Expressway never got tied into US-50 as planned).  I'm pretty sure that the exits for the Clarksburg Expressway were all constructed as part of Corridor D (and the downtown exits were some of last pieces of Corridor D completed on the east end).  The Clarksburg inset on the 1973 official state map still shows both ends of the Clarksburg Expressway tied back in to Pike Street (but I'm pretty sure that there were some new exits east of there just off the inset).

I suspect that there was a political reason to proclaim that Oak Hill was first (as opposed to Clarksburg, Parkersburg or I-64 for that matter).  Interstate highways in West Virginia were being constructed at the same time:  I-64 between East Huntington and Ona (now Huntington Mall) was also completed in 1960; I-77 from Fairplain to south of Sissonville was completed shortly after.  The first sections of I-70 and I-81 weren't completed until 1963.  The race was on, and someone judged that Oak Hill was the first.  Regardless, it's still a useless factoid taking up space in my memory banks.
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Re: I-64 Route West Virginia/Virginia
« Reply #74 on: November 30, 2020, 08:57:58 PM »

My open date reports for all interstates and corridors in WV are in storage, so I need to dig up specific dates later - but the NBI has 1958-ish build dates for the US 50 freeway through Clarksburg (with the ramp through the parking garage being added in 1980). This would include exits for 3rd Street (eastbound), 13th Street and Chestnut/Broddus. For a -very- brief time prior to the entire downtown segment opening, the expressway existed between Oak Street and 3rd Street.

The US 21 freeway through Oak Hill was built in 1960.

The WV 16 freeway in Beckley was built in 1958-60 and has two interchanges.

Technically, the Fort Henry Bridge for US 40/250 in Wheeling contained ramps for Main Street before terminating at Market Street. That opened in 1955.

 


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