AARoads Forum

Please login or register.

Login with username, password and session length

Author Topic: Battle Creek meet trip  (Read 1237 times)

hbelkins

  • *
  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 13546
  • It is well, it is well, with my soul.

  • Age: 57
  • Location: Kentucky
  • Last Login: October 17, 2019, 06:53:31 PM
    • Millennium Highway
Battle Creek meet trip
« on: November 10, 2016, 09:30:35 PM »

Day 1

The goal of the day was to get to the South Bend area and get all but the northernmost few miles of US 31 in Indiana under my belt. But the Hoosier State's penchant for closing roads foiled that for me.

I got to drive across the new I-65 bridge and noted that Indiana still has its Exit 0. Something's going on with the toll gantries they have set up, as they fired off the laser portion of my V1.

US 31 was a fun and uncrowded drive through southern Indiana. I noticed a Casey's General Store in Scottsburg; is that the farthest east they range?

My attempt to clinch US 31 was foiled when the route was closed at Seymour at US 50. A bunch of nice "Detour IND 31" signs guided me onto I-65. I exited at IND 46 at Columbus to make my way back over to US 31, even though it wasn't signed as the detour, but the closure point on the north side is at IND 7. I'll have to grab that section at some point in the future for the clinch.

Columbus must be a decent sized town. I drove through it on IND 46, but ventured back up into a business area on US 31 just south of the I-65 interchange.

Most of US 31 is built up all the way from Columbus to I-465, but traffic flowed reasonably well.

Took the US 31 route around I-465. Most of the button copy that was along that stretch a few years ago is gone now.

I will state again for the record that any conversion of US 31 to a freeway between Indy and South Bend is a huge waste of money. There are probably fewer than 10 traffic lights along the whole stretch, and the bypasses of Kokomo, Peru and other towns eliminate any slowdowns. The new freeway north of Indy is nice, but Indiana sure loves it some barbell interchanges. Roundabouts everywhere. North of Kokomo, there was very little traffic and the road was mostly empty. I see absolutely no need for this to be a full freeway.

I noticed that most of the bridges between Indy and a point north of Kokomo had been brined. Are they expecting snow or something?

There's a "Business 31" sign, in the form of an "IND 31" marker, at Peru.

When I got into South Bend, I went to both Meijer and Walmart in search of Vernor's. Neither store had any, and the only type that Meijer carries is 2-liter regular Vernor's. I cannot believe that I am within five miles of the Michigan state line and can't get Vernor's, not even from a Michigan company.

Tomorrow, the plan is to finish up US 31 in Indiana and then get what I need to clinch it in Michigan, then make my way back south to Elkhart, where I'm overnighting Friday and Saturday.
Logged

hbelkins

  • *
  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 13546
  • It is well, it is well, with my soul.

  • Age: 57
  • Location: Kentucky
  • Last Login: October 17, 2019, 06:53:31 PM
    • Millennium Highway
Re: Battle Creek meet trip
« Reply #1 on: November 18, 2016, 02:33:49 PM »

Day 2

My goal for this day was to finish off what I thought I would need of US 31 in Indiana (from Cleveland Road to the state line, but that was before encountering the closure the day before) and then finishing US 31 in Indiana.

Based on my experience driving the route, I can say that I see no need for the US 31 freeway connection to be finished. The existing connector (Napier Avenue) works very well. I'd just reconfigure the intersection to make US 31 the thru route and not worry about finishing the freeway on to I-196.

Traffic flowed very well through Holland, which makes judicious use of the "Michigan Left."

The city really ought to rename Felch Street. I guffawed when I saw that street name.

Grand Haven is a real slowdown, but otherwise there were no issues on the non-freeway portion of US 31.

Once I got to I-96, I achieved a clinch of US 31 in Michigan, so I needed to turn around and make my way back to Elkhart for the night. I backtracked on US 31 to Holland, noting a couple of oddly-shaped US 31 markers on the southbound side with one with Clearview numerals.

From Holland, I opted to take M-40 south, which was a fairly pleasant drive. Once I reached the end of the route at US 12, I headed west back to US 31, then took US 31 and US 20 around the south side of South Bend/Mishawaka/Elkhart. There are a few button copy signs surviving along the route.

Once I got to Middlebury, I took IN 13 north to the toll road, then west to Elkhart where I was staying for the night.

Day 3

This was meet day. My route to the meet was IN 19/Old M-205 to US 12 to US 131 to M-60 to M-66. I clinched I-194 prior to the meet.

My favorite portion of the meet tour was the abandoned section of BL 94 and the Historic Bridge Park.

My route back to Elkhart was I-94 to US 131 to M-60 to M-40 to US 12 to M-217 to CR 17 to the toll road.
Logged

hbelkins

  • *
  • *
  • Offline Offline

  • Posts: 13546
  • It is well, it is well, with my soul.

  • Age: 57
  • Location: Kentucky
  • Last Login: October 17, 2019, 06:53:31 PM
    • Millennium Highway
Re: Battle Creek meet trip
« Reply #2 on: November 20, 2016, 06:28:33 PM »

Day 4

Who would travel from northern Indiana/southern Michigan back to eastern Kentucky via southern West Virginia? This guy.

My goal for the day was to clinch US 33 in its entirety. I needed most of the route in Indiana and a couple of small segments in Ohio.

The portion of US 33 between Elkhart and Goshen is pretty much built-up the entire way, but it wasn't too bad of a drive on a Sunday morning. Like most of the roads I drove in Indiana, significant portions of this route could really use a good resurfacing.

One of the towns I traveled through was the oddly-named Churubusco (Indiana seems to have a number of towns with strange names), which bills itself Turtle Town USA.

I opted to stay on I-69 and I-469 and follow the marked route of US 33, which I had driven before, instead of going through town on the old route. I know it was much longer mileage-wise but I don't know if I saved any time or not.

US 33 doesn't follow a straight course in this area of Indiana and Ohio. There are a number of twists and turns at various intersections, which makes the route appear to be an afterthought.

I paid silent homage to the legendary Tom Jenior when I crossed US 224, which has a block-long concurrency with US 27 and US 33 in Decatur.

The button copy on the freeway section of US 33 between St. Marys and Wapakoneta has been replaced, mostly with Clearview. Control cities for US 33 along the freeway are Columbus and Ft. Wayne instead of local towns. I'm not sure why the freeway was built the way it was, with US 33 not being the through route, but instead there being a "bump" with OH 29, and the freeway ending a bit west of the intersection on OH 29.

Are there any plans to connect the freeway/expressway portions of US 33 between Wapakoneta and Bellefontaine? It doesn't make a lot of sense to have a freeway spur to St. Marys, and yet a gap in the freeway such as exists now.

Major construction at the US 33/I-270 interchange. I'm not sure what's being done to the interchange.

US 33 was reasonably well-marked through Columbus, although I was using a pre-determined set of directions and my GPS to tell me when I approached the streets it follows. There's still some button copy left near I-670.

I had driven US 33 southeast of Columbus before, but not since the Nelsonville bypass was built. There are a couple of button-copy signs in the Athens area, but for the most part all the button copy is gone.

This day basically consisted of two routes -- US 33 and I-77. Once I got to I-77 at Ravenswood, I set sail for Beckley. The majority of vehicles passing through the Cabin Creek and Mossy toll plazas did not have E-ZPasses. I was able to pass a significant number of those vehicles simply by using the E-ZPass only lanes.

Accomplishment for the day: Clinched US 33 in its entirety (Elkhart, IN to Richmond, VA).

Day 5

I used this day to clinch or grab significant new portions of West Virginia state highways. From Beckley, I used the new bypass to its current end at WV 41. A construction sign on the bypass indicated the route under construction is US 19, so I'm guessing when the route is finally finished to connect to Corridor L, it will be signed as US 19. It appears that a portion of the bypass is finished north of WV 41, but I don't know how far that section extends. The intersection with US 41 is being reconfigured and that activity appears to not be very far along.

I followed WV 41 (the old alignment of US 19 prior to the opening of Corridor L) to Summersville. It was a very, very long drive and sections of the pavement are in very poor shape. There is evidence of the flooding damage from earlier this year along the route, but it appears that any road damage has been fixed.

There's a misaligned arrow in downtown Summersville indicating that north WV 41 turns left to follow west WV 39, when 41 actually turns left.

From the end of WV 41, I took WV 55 (a route I'd previously clinched) to Craigsville to pick up WV 20 south. I had previously driven this route along the WV 55 and WV 39 concurrencies, so everything south of the WV 39 split was new.

South of I-64 toward Hinton, the route does not follow the New River valley. Instead, it twists around the side of the mountain (a trait that happens along other WV routes as well).

In Hinton, I clinched WV 107 and continued  through Princeton to the route's end at US 52. From there, I drove WV 71, which really shouldn't be on the state primary system at all. North of Montcalm, the road is very narrow and curvy until its end at WV 10. This route really should be signed as a county route, as I've driven many county routes that are much better.

Made my way back to Princeton via WV 10 and US 19, clinched WV 104, then picked up WV 123 to clinch what I needed of it (I had been on the section between US 52 and the Virginia state line before).

I decided to go for it and clinch two more routes in the area, which (I think) gets me every state route in southwestern West Virginia. I headed north on US 52 to WV 161 and headed out it. That route immediately climbs a mountain where there are numbers posted at the curves, similar to US 52 near Gilbert.

WV 161 and WV 103 have an unusual intersection. Southbound traffic on WV 161 makes a hard left turn (almost a U-turn) at WV 103, while WV 103 continues straight.

WV 161 appears to have been rebuilt through a strip mining job near the point where it goes parallel to the Virginia state line. This is the headwaters of the Tug Fork of the Big Sandy River -- I passed near that river's mouth the next day on the way home. The mining operation appears to be ongoing in both states. I can only imagine the nightmares involved in the permitting and paperwork for that.

At Bishop, near the end of WV 161, the route takes a short dip into Virginia, but there's no signage and no change in pavement, so it appears West Virginia maintains that portion. A Tazewell County, VA school bus was discharging children, which caused me to glance at my GPS and I saw that I had crossed the state line.

I took WV 16 to Welch (again, a route I'd driven before) and again, WV routed the road along a mountainside south of War instead of through the valley.

At Welch, I went south on WV 103 to clinch that route. Gary is an incorporated community south of Welch, and although the population is less than 1,000, it extends for quite a distance along WV 103.

Back at WV 161, I backtracked to US 52 toward Bluefield. I had planned to stay in Beckley again that night, so I let my GPS route me there. It chose WV 20 to Princeton, which suited me fine. I took WV 20 back to WV 104, then one of the local streets that connect 104 to US 460, and then to I-77 north.

This was only my second time to drive northbound on I-77 out of the Princeton/Bluefield area. Unfortunately, it was dark so I didn't get to check out any scenery (I'd driven it southbound most recently back in the summer). But I was struck at how long the mountain climb up to Flat Top seemed, and how quickly I got from Princeton to Beckley. Once again, I passed a bunch of traffic at the toll plaza simply by using the E-ZPass only lane.

Made it to Beckley without hitting a deer, although I had seen six during daylight hours.

Accomplishments for the day: Clinched WV 41, WV 107, WV 104, WV 71, WV 161 and WV 103, and significant new mileage on WV 20.

Day 6

I've driven across the New River Gorge bridge several times. I've been to the visitor's center a couple of times. I even did the Bridge Walk earlier this year and have been to a couple of Bridge Days. But until this day, I'd never driven down to the gorge on Fayette Station Road.

There are some really good vantage points of the bridge from the valley. But it's an adventure to get there.

The route is one-way southbound for most of its distance (from the Summersville side toward Fayetteville). I can't imagine what it was like when this was WV 82 and the through route between Summersville and Fayetteville, with two-way traffic and the possibility of meeting trucks on the narrow road and the handful of switchbacks.

There's not much parking at the bottom of the gorge near the old bridge. You have to park near the railroad tracks on the north side of the bridge, as there is no parking on the other side. I found this out the hard way, but managed to find enough room to park just long enough to walk onto the old bridge to take a few pictures.

There are a couple of spots on the southwest side of the river that offer good views of both the old bridge and new bridge (but not at the same time). It's possible that there's a spot upstream of the old bridge that could allow for both bridges to be photographed in one shot, but since I didn't park on the right side of the river, I didn't get the chance to find out.

Once I came up out of the gorge, I took US 19 south to WV 612, which I used to reach the WV Turnpike at Mossy. Again, I passed a bunch of vehicles at the toll plaza simply by using an E-ZPass only lane.

There's some button copy near the US 60/Turnpike interchange north of the Chuck Yeager Bridge, as well as some older signage. I think I got pictures of all of it, as I had to make a few U-turns to capture it all. I don't know how these signs missed the wholesale replacement along this portion of US 60.

I can't think of a time I've traveled along I-64 between Charleston and the state line that there hasn't been construction somewhere. The US 52 north exit is the site this time. The bridges on I-64 are being totally replaced. I noted that the fast lane westbound side has been completely torn out.

Once I get into Kentucky, I basically have two choices for routes to come one. One involves exiting at Grayson and using KY 7 south. A newly-rebuilt section of KY 7 in Elliott County recently was completed. I drove most of that route back in the fall while it was still under construction not not with the final surface. I opted for the other route, which is US 23 to US 460 to the Mountain Parkway. I wanted to see the progress on the Mountain Parkway widening. Not much to see along the US 460 portion at Salyersville, but traffic is using part of a new alignment on the parkway near Exit 72 (the KY 30 exit). And the short four-lane portion near the new KY 3050 (Gifford Road) exit is now open.
Logged

 


Opinions expressed here on belong solely to the poster and do not represent or reflect the opinions or beliefs of AARoads, its creators and/or associates.