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Author Topic: Kentucky to Breezewood and back (KY/WV/MD/PA)  (Read 562 times)

hbelkins

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Kentucky to Breezewood and back (KY/WV/MD/PA)
« on: November 26, 2018, 08:17:16 PM »

God's providence allowed me to attend Sunday's abandoned PA Turnpike meet, so I made the trip up to America's least favorite interstate anomaly and back. The meet was interesting and the trip was uneventful.

I took my usual route northeast by connecting with I-64 at Grayson, leaving home shortly after 8 a.m. Filled my tank at the Love's at KY 1/KY 7 and I-64 interchange for $2.299 and then set out for a long haul along the interstates.

There's a pavement rehab project on I-64 between Hurricane and Teays Valley. Westbound traffic is split, with one lane using the westbound carriageway and the other lane using part of the eastbound side. An interesting metal divider is used to split the directions of travel instead of the usual concrete jersey barrier. This appears to be just a pavement rehab with no widening; it seems to me that WVDOT is wasting an opportunity here because they'll have to pave it all again when they finally do get around to adding the third lane.

Several annoying work zones along I-79 where the speed limit was still posted at 55 mph even though no lanes were closed.

Signage has been replaced since the last time I was along I-79 between the WV 36 Wallback/Clay and US 19/WV 15 Flatwoods exits. Lettering is done in FHWA instead of Clearview; I don't know if this is an indication that West Virginia won't be going back to Clearview, or if the contract was let before the approval was reinstated. It's mostly a "replace-in-kind" project, except the northbound Flatwoods exit is now signed as "North 19/To 15." Previously, it was just signed for WV 15 with no "To." Southbound is still just WV 15 (no "To") with no mention of US 19.

Traffic was fairly light along the southernmost part of I-79, but a lane closure on the southbound side north of Flatwoods had resulted in a fairly long backup. This was around noon. I don't know where all the traffic was headed at that time on Saturday.

The button copy exit sign for WV 58 is still mounted on the overhead gantry; it's the only surviving button copy along I-79 of which I'm aware.

I hopped off at the WV 131 exit to get pics of a sign that was an obvious patch job from when the parallel route was still WV 73 and WV 131 was still a county route, then back on. Traffic picked up around Clarksburg and was fairly heavy all the way to Morgantown.

Filled up at the truck stop at the CR 77 exit for $2.599 to avoid having to get gas in Taxsylvania, then it was onto I-68.

For most of the trip, I'd been alternating between drizzle, very light rain, and no precipitation, with temperatures ranging from about 44 to 50. The farther east I got on I-68, the lower the temperature got. I also started seeing some snow on the ground. I made my first-ever stop at the Maryland welcome center; the tourist center there has a nice view.

One of my goals for this trip was to drive the new US 219 routing between Meyersdale and Somerset. I didn't know if I would do it on my trip up or my trip back, but I was running pretty well on or ahead of schedule so I decided to do it on Saturday. By the time I exited I-68, the temperature was hovering around 32/33 and there was some light drizzle. That, plus getting behind a tractor-trailer on the old part of 219 between I-68 and Meyersdale, slowed me down a bit, but I still got to the bypass in about 15 minutes. It took me 27 minutes total to get from I-68 to the PA 218 exit at Somerset, and that included getting caught at the red light at Alt. US 40. The speed limit on new 219 is 65 mph, and I stuck to that or lower because of the weather. There had already been a pretty significant snow removal effort on the new road, judging from the snow piled up on the shoulders.

At Somerset, I took PA 218 back to PA 31 to take that east to Bedford. There was quite a bit of snow on the ground between Somerset and Bedford, and much of the route was shrouded in thick fog. Still, it was a fairly easy drive over to US 30 at Bedford, and then on to Breezewood, where I spend two nights at the Days Inn.

Speaking of Breezewood, it's definitely not the thriving tourist trap/roadside service business village it once was. Lots of businesses were closed and buildings either torn down or vacant. It's hard for me to believe that the business community there, dwindling as it is, really has enough clout to keep a direct connection for I-70 from being build.

Since I approached from the west on US 30, and the Days Inn is just west of where I-70 comes in, I was able to avoid all the traffic that was already getting heavy on Saturday when I arrived around 5 p.m. My motel was right next door to Sheetz, so it was a simple matter to just walk over and get food and settle in to watch UK pound Louisville in football.

I made plans to join the meet tour after they ate and before they departed Bedford, so I was able to sleep in a bit and then drive around Breezewood a bit, getting pictures of some of the old signage. The ancient button copy on I-70 is still there, along with a bunch of state-name interstate route markers. I drove back to Bedford on US 30, met the tour group, and enjoyed the meet and my opportunity to ride on the abandoned turnpike (well, as much as is drivable now, as several parts are blocked off). When we got back to Bedford, I decided to forego the post-meet dinner and headed back to Breezewood for the night. That turned out to be a wise move. When I checked in at home, I found out that one of the dogs had taken sick and I needed to be home today so we can lug her to the vet tomorrow. My original plans were to take a leisurely, meandering route home with no set stopping point for tonight. That, plus a weather forecast that mentioned the "S" word, meant a change of plans. I ended up going to bed at 9 Sunday night. After waking up a couple of times during the night and then not being able to get back to sleep the last time, i just went ahead and got up and left Breezwood around 5:15 a.m.

I took US 30 back to Bedford, then US 220 to Cumberland. It alternated between drizzle and rain, but by the time I hit I-68, it was pouring. There's some sort of work zone set up just east of downtown, with a posted 55 mph speed limit and all sorts of advisories about speed cameras in use. I slowed to about 50, but a couple of vehicles blew right by me. I never saw any flashes, and my V1 never went off, so I wonder if those signs are just bluffs.

I continued on 220, filling up at a Sheetz along the way at $2.659 ($2.629 with my Sheetz card; in retrospect, I think I could have made it quite a bit farther and found even cheaper gas).

The conversion of WV 972 to WV 93 is now signed, and WV 93 is fully signed in both directions, complete with "To US 48" trailblazers where WV 93 now begins at US 220. It was still raining on and off and I was keeping an eye on the temperature, which was in the mid-40s until I got up to the top of the mountain on US 50 at Mt. Storm, where it plunged into the 30s.

Took US 50, WV 90 and US 219 (picking up US 48) to Elkins. The Sheetz in Parsons is closed. I stopped at the McDonald's next door to use the restroom and get a bite of breakfast, and the lady at the counter told me it closed back in September, supposed due to lack of profitability. I was hoping the store had been replaced by a newer one, like was done in Berkeley Springs, but nope. It's closed with no replacement.

You can see evidence of construction for Corridor H at the northern end of the project, but no evidence where the existing four-lane ends at Kerens except for a whole lot of construction vehicles parked on the other side of the bridge. They must be using that as a staging area and working from north to south. Looked like some work was ongoing, so I guess Kokosing's dispute with the WV natural resources department has been settled.

There's still button copy in Elkins, and west of town along Corridor H approaching the US 250/WV 92 split and the intersection with CR 151. Also still some remaining in Buckhannon. I should have waited and got my gas in Elkins, as several places had it for $2.499. I'm noticing in a number of places that Sheetz is no longer the low-price leader as it is in most places. Gas was more expensive at Sheetz in Elkins and Weston than at Walmart or a couple of other places.

Nothing really to report for the rest of the trip home. Traffic was flowing smoothly in the one-lane section north of Flatwoods, and the annoying 55-mph-work-zones-with-no-work were still there. State police had a very visible presence in the I-64 work zone, but none were running radar or laser.

Gas at Love's in Grayson had dropped 4 cents between Saturday and today, to $2.259. I got gas at the Speedway across the road, which had a posted price of $2.289 but was the same price as Love's with my Speedy Rewards card. That Speedway has installed the Speedy Cafe with the touch screens for ordering, and the menu looked like a very poor man's version of Sheetz (a few burgers and fried items, plus subs and pizza).

Rolled into the vet's office shortly before 4 to pick up medicine for the dog in advance of her trip there tomorrow. By the time I got home, the temp had dropped to around 32 and the drizzle had turned to snow flurries, but no issues on the road.
« Last Edit: November 26, 2018, 08:21:35 PM by hbelkins »
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seicer

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Re: Kentucky to Breezewood and back (KY/WV/MD/PA)
« Reply #1 on: November 26, 2018, 10:27:55 PM »

There's a pavement rehab project on I-64 between Hurricane and Teays Valley. Westbound traffic is split, with one lane using the westbound carriageway and the other lane using part of the eastbound side. An interesting metal divider is used to split the directions of travel instead of the usual concrete jersey barrier. This appears to be just a pavement rehab with no widening; it seems to me that WVDOT is wasting an opportunity here because they'll have to pave it all again when they finally do get around to adding the third lane.

While a long-term goal, it's not yet needed. There are parts of I-64 that are still four-lanes closer to Charleston that are in the 60,000 AADT range that have yet to be widened, with traffic counts dropping to below 40,000 AADT west of Teays Valley and below 30,000 AADT west of Hurricane. At the least, it completely replaces original circa 1961 concrete.

I wonder what the growth rate is? The GIS doesn't show trends.
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SP Cook

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Re: Kentucky to Breezewood and back (KY/WV/MD/PA)
« Reply #2 on: November 27, 2018, 09:53:59 AM »

The only part of I-64 closer to Charleston that is still 4-lane is from the "new" US 35 interchange, MP 40 to the Nitro exit, MP 45, which includes a twin bridge between MP 44 and 45.  This has some environmental issues, but is scheduled for completion in 2021.  Traffic comes to a stop at rush hour every day, this project was needed decades ago.  While traffic volumes west of MP 39 do drop with every exit, a 6 lane is needed all the way to the Kentucky line, ASAP.
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froggie

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Re: Kentucky to Breezewood and back (KY/WV/MD/PA)
« Reply #3 on: November 27, 2018, 11:42:34 AM »

Could be they didn't have the environmental documentation for widening.  Pavement and bridge replacement-in-kind requires much less rigorous paperwork than a widening, even if that widening doesn't involve new right-of-way.
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SP Cook

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Re: Kentucky to Breezewood and back (KY/WV/MD/PA)
« Reply #4 on: November 27, 2018, 01:12:28 PM »

As I understand it, the project involves building a new westbound bridge and the accompanying road to reach it (about a third of a mile on the westbound side) and repurposing the current four lane bridge to single direction travel.  The issue is that the land where the accompanying road would be built is the old Artel Chemical dump site.  Artel was this kind of rogue chemical company back in the day that would buy worn out equipment and do and make stuff the big boys would not touch. 

They have been back and forth with it.  The last thing I heard was the EPA was signing off on some construction method designed to leave the stuff undisturbed by adding new soil on top.  Not my field.

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hbelkins

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Re: Kentucky to Breezewood and back (KY/WV/MD/PA)
« Reply #5 on: November 27, 2018, 04:46:08 PM »

The only part of I-64 closer to Charleston that is still 4-lane is from the "new" US 35 interchange, MP 40 to the Nitro exit, MP 45, which includes a twin bridge between MP 44 and 45.  This has some environmental issues, but is scheduled for completion in 2021.  Traffic comes to a stop at rush hour every day, this project was needed decades ago.  While traffic volumes west of MP 39 do drop with every exit, a 6 lane is needed all the way to the Kentucky line, ASAP.

It's been my experience that a significant amount of traffic exits at the mall, and then most of the rest of it peels off at 29th Street (US 60). Of course, the stretch between US 60 and WV 10 has already been widened. I've never run into significant traffic between US 60 and the state line, so I think they could get by with leaving the remainder of the road from WV 10 to the state line as four lanes. At least one of the bridges is badly in need of a new deck, but they've made significant strides in the westernmost 15 miles of I-64 in the last 20 years.
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epzik8

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Re: Kentucky to Breezewood and back (KY/WV/MD/PA)
« Reply #6 on: November 29, 2018, 06:18:27 PM »

Awesome! That’s awesome.
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wriddle082

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Re: Kentucky to Breezewood and back (KY/WV/MD/PA)
« Reply #7 on: November 29, 2018, 06:25:03 PM »

The only part of I-64 closer to Charleston that is still 4-lane is from the "new" US 35 interchange, MP 40 to the Nitro exit, MP 45, which includes a twin bridge between MP 44 and 45.  This has some environmental issues, but is scheduled for completion in 2021.  Traffic comes to a stop at rush hour every day, this project was needed decades ago.  While traffic volumes west of MP 39 do drop with every exit, a 6 lane is needed all the way to the Kentucky line, ASAP.

It's been my experience that a significant amount of traffic exits at the mall, and then most of the rest of it peels off at 29th Street (US 60). Of course, the stretch between US 60 and WV 10 has already been widened. I've never run into significant traffic between US 60 and the state line, so I think they could get by with leaving the remainder of the road from WV 10 to the state line as four lanes. At least one of the bridges is badly in need of a new deck, but they've made significant strides in the westernmost 15 miles of I-64 in the last 20 years.

They need to widen it from US 52 (Exit 6) to WV 10, since a lot of traffic leaves 64 en route to Ohio (and it’s a shortcut to Ashland).  Then east of US 60 it needs to be widened to Mall Road.  Between Mall Road and the Hurricane/Teays Valley area seems to have the lower traffic volumes.
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hbelkins

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Re: Kentucky to Breezewood and back (KY/WV/MD/PA)
« Reply #8 on: November 30, 2018, 02:43:10 PM »

As I understand it, the project involves building a new westbound bridge and the accompanying road to reach it (about a third of a mile on the westbound side) and repurposing the current four lane bridge to single direction travel.  The issue is that the land where the accompanying road would be built is the old Artel Chemical dump site.  Artel was this kind of rogue chemical company back in the day that would buy worn out equipment and do and make stuff the big boys would not touch. 

They have been back and forth with it.  The last thing I heard was the EPA was signing off on some construction method designed to leave the stuff undisturbed by adding new soil on top.  Not my field.

They'll probably have to rebuild the interchanges on either side of the bridge as well, particularly the WV 25 interchange since it involves the lane add-drop for the existing six-lane segment.
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