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User Content => Road Trips => Topic started by: ChoralScholar on July 12, 2013, 11:45:57 PM

Title: Russellville, AR to Orlando, FL
Post by: ChoralScholar on July 12, 2013, 11:45:57 PM
This is my first roadtrip report.  Keep in mind I was on vacation, so be gentle.  :)

We just returned from our week-long expedition to Orlando.  I went through a bit of hand-wringing over which way to go, and I went through several scenarios and went with the one I had not experienced before.

On the way out, I followed I-40 into West Memphis, where I got on to I-55 south and went across the old bridge, as I am wont to do.  I picked up I-240 eastbound and got off at Lamar Avenue heading southeast toward Birmingham. (NOTE: I haven't been through here since 2009, so I've noticed some new development along Lamar, but I doubt that I-22 will ultimately enter the Memphis metro in this fashion, so it may be irrelevant).

Heading down US-78 across Mississippi, I saw no actual I-22 signage until I crossed the Alabama state line.  Alabama went crazy with it, placing full-size I-22 shields almost all the way.  I saw, by my count, three sets of the Blue Appalachian Regional Corridor X signage each direction.  One thing I noticed as well is that on the overpass road markings (the one that says Xxxxx Rd - Mile 93.6) Only have a blank interstate shield with no number.

On the way down I got off at the recommended exit for trucks at Graysville (Exit 85 signed US-78).  You can still continue on to the mandated exit (numbered 93) at Coalburg Rd.  More on that later.

I headed on down I-65 toward Montgomery, and got off at Exit 168 for US-82.  This part of Montgomery is looking ROUGH.  Abandoned buildings seem to almost outnumber occupied ones. 

I picked up US-231 south toward Dothan, which was a new road for me.  I was curious as to whether I would make good time, whether it was all 4-lanes and divided, etc.  With the exception of going through the towns of Troy, Ozark, and Dothan, the speed limits were 65, and never got below 45.  I seemed to be able to make good time through there.  US-231 in Dothan follows a cool little bypass circle around the west edge of town.  I'm sure at one time there wasn't a lot of business on the highway, but it is heavily commercialized now.  Even so, I didn't ever get hung up in traffic or stop lights.  One oddity I wanted to mention here - between Dothan and the Florida state line, I counted like 6 fruit stands.  I'm not sure why they are concentrated in that spot, but I digress.

US-231 meets US-90 and I-10 in Marianna, FL.  I traveled east, uneventfully, on I-10 until it met I-75 at Lake City.  Heading south on I-75 seemed very forested, like the regions of Alabama and Georgia surrounding the area.  Then, all of a sudden it seemed like the thick forestation ended and clearings with palm trees appeared.  All that was missing was a sign saying "You are now leaving the temperate forest biome" or some such.

Just south of Ocala, I entered the Florida Turnpike toward Orlando.  As expected, this is a gorgeous piece of road, complete with a full service plaza with fuel between the east and west bound lanes.

There's not much to report about the Orlando area highways, other than it took me a while to get my mind wrapped around the highway scheme.  I-4 running basically south to north through the area messed with my head a bit.

I took the same route coming back with the exception of getting off on I-65 exit 264 so I could get on I-22 at Coalburg road.  They are working on a widening project there, and I was detoured at the Coalburg Rd/Daniel Payne interchange.

One other note - trying to beat the traffic just a bit in the Memphis metro, I didn't travel all the way up Lamar Ave to I-240.  I turned west on Shelby Rd and went south of the Airport and accessed I-55 there.  One thing I noticed coming back this way is that it directs through traffic to Little Rock to take I-240 and ultimately take the I-40 bridge.  I'm sure this is because of the hairy-ness of staying on I-55 to cross the old bridge.  It would be a little tougher in a big rig than an auto - so the other way would be preferable.

So, there you have it.  I'm sure I suck at this - being my first trip report and all.  Thanks for reading.
Title: Re: Russellville, AR to Orlando, FL
Post by: bugo on July 13, 2013, 12:04:42 AM
They should really route I-55 across the big M bridge and I-240 and renumber current I-55 as the US routes 61, 64, 70, and 79, or a 3 digit Interstate if you must.  Trucks should also be banned from the Memphis-Arkansas bridge.
Title: Re: Russellville, AR to Orlando, FL
Post by: ChoralScholar on July 13, 2013, 12:08:19 AM
They should really route I-55 across the big M bridge and I-240 and renumber current I-55 as the US routes 61, 64,70, and 79, or a 3 digit Interstate if you must.  Trucks should also be banned from the Memphis-Arkansas bridge.

Agreed.  It's a mess.  Especially if you've never been through it before.
Title: Re: Russellville, AR to Orlando, FL
Post by: NE2 on July 13, 2013, 06:01:17 AM
Florida's Turnpike: showing tourists that the state isn't all flat, since 1964.
Title: Re: Russellville, AR to Orlando, FL
Post by: ChoralScholar on July 13, 2013, 02:20:35 PM
Florida's Turnpike: showing tourists that the state isn't all flat, since 1964.

It sure was a magnificent piece of highway.  If I had it to do over again, I would stop at that service plaza, and put 20 dollars on a Sun Pass.  I got sick of getting cash.  Especially on the way out to KSC - there was five toll plazas between Orlando and Canaveral.