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Author Topic: Alps on the Road  (Read 28509 times)

Michael in Philly

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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #50 on: September 30, 2011, 04:55:58 PM »

....PA 331 sounds a lot like PA 284.  There are two counties in Pennsylvania with county roads, but neither are Washington.

:-O

You learn something every day....  Which two counties?  Are they (the county roads, not the counties) signed?
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NE2

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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #51 on: September 30, 2011, 05:55:29 PM »

They're county maintained roads, not signed county routes. I believe they're Allegheny and Lackawanna (the former does sign the colored belts).
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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #52 on: September 30, 2011, 06:19:58 PM »

Allegheny and Westmoreland

Allegheny only identifies the route numbers in the corners of street signs, but Westmoreland does not acknowledge any of them except they are marked on PennDOT's Type-10 maps.
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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #53 on: September 30, 2011, 06:55:46 PM »

Lackawanna too: http://www.lackawannacounty.org/viewDepartment.aspx?DeptID=5
The Type 10 map labels "County Rd" on Main Street through Dickson City etc., and in several other places.
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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #54 on: September 30, 2011, 06:58:07 PM »

Montgomery County PA also has county-maintained roads also - Butler Pk, Ridge Pk (east of Norristown), Germantown Pk (west of Plymouth Mtg) and Swamp Pk to name a few.
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Alps

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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #55 on: October 01, 2011, 12:17:25 AM »

Day 2 coming when I wake up. All tuckered out from a long day.

http://www.flickr.com/photos/andrew-turnbull/5904974529/ has some information on the triangular "delta" routes. Here's a photo: http://www.millenniumhwy.net/WV_trip_June_2002_Day_3/WV_trip_June_2002_Day_3-Pages/Image99.html

Okay, so they were there first, but not quite predecessors. Deltas are the Neanderthals to the pentagons' Homo Sapiens Sapiens. (Obscure enough?) I think I saw one other one somewhere once, but I don't recall having that photo on my site. Maybe it was the one on 857 and I haven't uploaded it yet? But I think they're all gone from 857 now thanks to WV 43...

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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #56 on: October 01, 2011, 11:05:11 AM »

Day 2: Call It a Working Vacation
The Route: I-70 WB (clinch in Ohio) to I-65 NB, 38th St. to I-465 to I-74 WB (clinch in Indiana). I-55 NB to I-39 NB (clinch in Illinois). When I got to I-90, rather than pay the toll for a highway I've already been on (though not since I-39 was signed on it, I still count it as completed), I exited for free at Business 20 and went northwest around Rockford on Perryville Rd. and Forest Hills Rd. to IL 251. I returned to I-39/90 beyond the tolls via IL 75 and headed up to Madison for a brief runabout: US 151 SB, with a brief detour to the old signs on University Ave. at Campus Dr., US 12/14 WB around the south side of the city, and back in on University. I call it a working vacation because I then stopped for a couple of hours at my company's office overlooking the Capitol before I headed up to Wausau on I-39 by way of WI 30, clinching both of those routes. Scott O. was kind enough to stop by on his way up through the area and we shared dinner and drinks while watching the most exciting playoff rain delay in years. If you hurry, you can still catch it for another few hours.

The Notes: I survived two rush hours relatively unscathed, and consider myself lucky. I went into Indianapolis around 8:30 AM, and didn't encounter any traffic, though traffic reports indicated I-65 SB had issues. Also, I left downtown Madison at 4:30 PM. Let's just say there are some problems heading northeast from Madison, but if you pick your lanes carefully, you can get out 10 minutes faster. Once I got out of the downtown area, travel became much easier, and I-39/90 stayed moving at 70 mph despite Northeast-style traffic (all lanes full).

There was construction on I-70 from Exit 96 west to I-465, which could have been widening? I couldn't tell from the overpass widths. It would make sense, although even rush hour traffic didn't have trouble getting through two lanes. Then again, I'm judging this from New Jersey standards, where anything that moves during rush hour is not just tolerable, but acceptable, and often impossible to achieve on a project. There was more construction on 38th St., which seemed to be geared toward replacing the median and curb. I'm guessing this is a drainage project first and repavement second, but not a widening. I liked 38th as an alternate from 70 WB to 74 WB versus the beltway.

One other Indy note: 103.3, the local rock station, for some reason was giving Chicago traffic reports. I started hearing about Dan Ryan and the Circle, and was convinced I was hearing crazy FM skip. Now that I know the truth, I'm amused.

Distance signs and entrance ramp signs on I-74 in Indiana list Peoria as the next major city westward. How about Bloomington or Champaign-Urbana? If Peoria is the next FHWA-listed destination, Illinois needs to get on the ball and request a few more cities.

No one sent IDOT (Illinois) the memo about how to do exit tabs. The newest signs (mostly Clearview) just have the thing sprawled across the top of the sign like Georgia. Anything older than, say, 2008 has the exit tab centered, which made me think every sign might be button copy. (Turns out I only found one the whole time, a 2-mile advance for the I-74/55 split.) IDOT must be fearful of The Right Way To Do Things.

As I got closer to Champaign-Urbana, I noticed that a wedge of blue sky started to appear on the horizon. See, back east, overcast skies gradually give way to clouds that start dissipating until you're left (eventually) with blue skies. I guess here in the Midwest, you just go straight from clouds to sun. It looked like the edge of the UFO in Independence Day, where you could see nothing but UFO for several miles, and then suddenly there was no more UFO. When I actually got to the boundary on the west side of the twin cities, there was perhaps 1,000 feet of partly cloudy sky, and then nothing for the rest of my trip in Illinois. (They came back right at the Wisconsin border to mock me.)

Yesterday, I'd passed a Chiefs fan driving to KC on I-70 with PA plates. Today, I passed a Green Bay fan from Florida on I-74. Given the other traffic I noticed (a lot of Wisconsin plates, especially on trucks), I-74 to I-39 seems like a very popular Chicagoland bypass for people from the Southeast. I'd also note that football, more than any other sport, brings out the travel bug in fans and gets them to roadtrip. That cements its status as my favorite sport for sure.

Exit 160 on I-74/55 (for US 150/IL 9) must have JUST been converted from a full cloverleaf to a parclo. The service signs have scars where the "A" and "B" were removed, and even the dividers between the two halves of the signs were removed. The old right of way has become overgrown but is very obvious from the line of trees outside the former loops. The new onramps now cut through the middle of the right of way instead of remaining on the outside of the removed loops.

For some reason, I'd always pictured I-39 as being a four-lane Interstate with a wide median and original concrete, and that's exactly what it was until Lee County. Then began a 20-mile construction zone where the old roadway is getting ripped up and replaced with asphalt. I cried inside, especially during the several-mile long one-lane construction zone I had to endure. Could have been worse, I could have been stuck behind a hog truck the whole time. The new surface layer is disturbingly shiny, almost luminescent green. After the construction zone, traffic ends up on old asphalt, which seems to be a surface layer over original concrete.

I-88/I-39 is a cloverleaf, despite I-88 being a toll road. It appears from aerials that I could go one interchange west or two interchanges east (but not one) and avoid paying a toll. I knew I'd be getting my free toll road on with the short connection on I-90, so I didn't need to see I-88, but maybe next time I'm back this way I'll try some free toll roads for fun.

I-39/US 20 seemed suspiciously like a stub interchange, the way the NB-WB ramp went straight and then looped - and the way the NB roadway was wide enough for an extra lane approaching and through the interchange. I checked, and sure enough, my suspicions were confirmed, but thankfully there's not much to photograph from ground level so I wasn't missing out. What were the plans for the continuation? Aha. I'll call it I-139 for fun.

One note in Rockford: Perryville Rd. is signed as part of the Veterans Memorial Beltway, with little flags on the street signs. The signals seemed to be coordinated SB for the first few miles, then NB after that. Confusing, because I came on at Business 20, which seems like it ought to be the dividing line for coordination. But I'm an outsider.

I found one for the triple lefts thread (though I don't care for the thread enough to post it there): I-39/90 NB/WB Exit 254 to CTH M/S. Something I learned just now: Wisconsin's lettered routes are county maintained, but Missouri's are state maintained. Clearly that's why MO doesn't have the word COUNTY inside.

I was told to find button copy on US 12/14 around Madison, but other than Exit 182 and a little bit near Exit 189, all of the signs are unfortunately new. At least they're not Clearview. I found more significant stocks of button copy on I-39/90 near the state line and on the old part of I-39 just north of I-90 (former WI 78, Portage bypass).

Northern Wisconsin reminds me of a cross between Montana and New York (specifically, between Buffalo and Utica). The trees (type and growth patterns) are very NY, the appearance of the farms is very Montana. The terrain is a mixture of both, and the people are unique here, very friendly and with that curious Canadian-tinged accent. (My friend at our Madison office was able to slip into fluent Canadian, using words like "beauty" and "eh", to my great amusement. I told him it must be that the Canadian influence just drips across the border like maple syrup.)

Wisconsin likes to use the word AHEAD at interchanges. For example, on I-39 at US 10/WIS 66, there are exits for East 10 and West 66. Then there's a pull-through BGS that says WEST 10 / EAST 66 / AHEAD. Any other state would have put I-39, US 51, US 10, and WIS 66 shields all together on the pull through instead, which would take more room. I'm not sure I like AHEAD, but I can't think of a better way to accomplish the same concept without larger and more cluttered signs.

P.S. Fried cheese curds are officially my new favorite food.

Alps

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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #57 on: October 02, 2011, 11:09:20 PM »

Day 3 was essentially what I posted in the meet recap, so on to:

Day 4: Leaves are Peeping, Frost is Biting.
The Route (somewhat simpler today): WI 52 EB (clinch) to WI 32 NB, US 8 EB to US 2 EB all the way across the Upper Peninsula. SB across the Mackinac Bridge (in daylight, finally) to US 23 SB all the way back to I-75. I then hopped up to the next exit for a U-turn, back along US 23 to M-13 SB (clinch) and east to Flint to my hotel.

The Notes (somewhat shorter today): Wisconsin clearly has high standards for its roads - after the "ROUGH ROAD NEXT 20 MILES" signs, the road was still very smooth. Only well after the 20 miles were up was there a bumpy stretch of road where the concrete joints still poke through the asphalt.

I looked it up - WIS 32 has red arrows because it's a memorial to the 32nd Infantry Brigade. Okay, fine. I still got the photo.

US 2/41 is divided north of Escanaba. Not only is it original concrete, but it may well be the only 65 MPH road on the Upper Peninsula. (I-75 would be 70 MPH.) However, I didn't see nearly as much traffic near Escanaba as I did near I-75, and nowhere enough to warrant more than four undivided lanes. Speaking of which, US 2 (and later US 23) have a different style of passing lane than I'm used to. Instead of a three-lane section with alternating passing lanes by side (such as Maritime Canada favors), Michigan takes the two-lane section and widens it to four lanes for a mile and a half or more, and then back to two for awhile. I wonder what the advantages are that Michigan may see.

Found a surprise lighthouse in Manistique at Lake Michigan Beach, where there were undertow warnings posted. Really? Who's going into the water? There should be hypothermia warnings posted if anything. Also, despite what I was expecting, the foliage really hasn't come out yet in the Upper Peninsula. So I was left with numerous views of Lake Michigan east of M-117 as the best scenery around.

Before leaving the U.P., I ate at Suzy's Pasties, as recommended to me. (It sounds like "past," not "paste.") They know how to make pasties and smoked fish up here, that's for sure. All of the pastie shops seemed to be located within 10 miles of the Mackinac Bridge, though. Speaking of which, there are some nice views along US 2. The best view is at the official-seeming bridge center just west of I-75 behind the Quality Inn. It's not easy to find and not particularly well signed, but a good stop.

US 23 has a long repaving and drainage project going on south of Cheboygan. In other construction news, I-75 SB has the left lane closed 2 miles south of Exit 188 (US 23), which led to a 2-mile delay right at the exit. I was taking the exit anyway (to get to the top of M-13), so my only annoyance was having to deal with all the diverted traffic from I-75 until they filtered their way back. Once I got down to Bay City, M-13 was again empty.

In Linwood, I looked around and realized I was the only foreign car on the road. That's part of being in Michigan. Whoops. Umm... buy American. Yeah. Also, Linwood smells like peanuts. Avoid M-13 if you're allergic.

I was surprised to find that M-13 is wide-open from Bay City to Saginaw, with no traffic or development. (I'd like to stop typing "Sagniaw" any sentence now.) Why did suburbs never develop between the Tri-Cities? M-13 is 55 mph into Saginaw and remains 50 mph until downtown, quickly coming back up to 45 and then 55 as soon as you get to the other side. Anywhere else, the road would be signed at 40 given the numerous driveways, railroad crossings, and sharp curves. Even the detoured I-75 traffic didn't slow M-13 down, so I ended up saving 15 minutes on this leg. Combined with 15-minute savings on several earlier legs, I made it into Flint at sundown (7:17) instead of 8:00. Which is exactly what I was aiming for when I left at 6:45 (Central).

While detouring to the covered bridge in Frankenmuth, I crossed Dixie Highway, former US 23. It's actually still striped as four lanes, although it has zero traffic. Literally zero traffic north of Curtis Rd. because the bridge is out over the Cass River - the same little river that the covered bridge crosses.

P.S. Flint is so dead, it's scary. I ran red lights to get back on the highway and far away from downtown before finding my hotel.

Alps

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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #58 on: October 05, 2011, 10:56:50 PM »

I don't care if you don't care. I still care. So, Day 5: Rainyd, eh?
The Route: Old M-21 east to Port Huron, on over to ON 402 (clinch), 401, 403. I dropped off 402 briefly to see old signs on former Highway 4 in Talbotville. From the 403 I took the QEW to 427 (clinch), circled around via regional roads to Airport Rd., and went around the terminals to get to Highway 409 (clinch). I U-turned on the QEW and took the 403 to clinch it, then dropped off onto local streets to get to Lakeshore Rd., which crosses the lift bridge next to the QEW Burlington Skyway. I snapped the requisite photos and continued on the QEW into Buffalo for food, then exited on NY 33 to I-90, picking up some more miles of my last NY Interstate to NY 96, which I clinched by following south to NY 434. I then went through Pennsylvania on PA 858, 706, 367, US 6, I-81, I-380, and I-80, with a little surprise detour thanks to a possibly errant VMS on I-380 that warned of a roadway closure ahead. So I ended up following PA 940, PA 314, and PA 611 to get to 80.

The Notes: Local roads seem to be more patch than pavement near Flint as I head east along former M-21. Avoid the town of Burton, as its lights are timed to hit every single one. Luckily, I seem to have budgeted enough time for that pithole of a town so that I still come out okay. 6 miles should not take 20 minutes to drive. Further east, old M-21 is clearly the lifeline of many communities still, like LaPeer. It should not have been decommissioned, not the least because I don't think it's been repaved since it was a state highway.

I wish American radio stations had the same Canadian content law as Canadian stations. That's some really good music. I get to hear subgenres that are delightfully different and usually more of an indie sound.

Saw an ad: "Is Grandma fading away? We can restore old photos." Sensitivity fail.

Ontario notes: Both sides of the Blue Water Bridge are reversible. Probably started with the first one being two-way, and now they have the availability to close one as needed. Lots of old signs on Highway 4/former 4, not just the one overhead. It's signed as Highway 4 from the 402, but then you get TO 4 once you're on the surface - because it was decommissioned within London. Seriously, Ontario, maintain your roads and stop dumping them off. Highway 402 is being repaved east of 4 to the end at 401. Drivers kept very good lane discipline on the 402 (as I've noticed on the 417), but did not attempt to do so on the 401, 403, or QEW, which I attribute to those durned furriners muddling everything up, except all of the offending drivers are Ontarian...

I have learnt (Canadian spelling, there) that the 401 isn't the only quad carriageway in the province - also see the 427 south of the 401. The 427 six-lane section needs to extend from Derry Rd. to the 407 for now, until it's extended beyond Zenway Rd. Regional Road 50 is under construction, appears to be widening to 6 lanes north of Queen St. (former Highway 7). How disappointing that Pearson Airport uses Clearview everywhere (starting to pop up around the province). Positive or negative contrast, letters or numerals, it's there.

Construction closed the Western Rd. NB onramp to the 401 WB, which I was planning to use as a U-turn. I had to use the next exit on Western Rd. and U-turn there to use the SB onramp. The same construction also snarled traffic on the 401 WB collector. (In Ontario, collectors are not distributors, although they really do serve both functions of course.) It appears to be a full-depth resurfacing of the collector, which I assume will slowly progress to or has slowly progressed from redoing the other roadways.

I found a remaining M-C Expressway shield on the 401 westbound just before the 403 split, between the two WB roadways. Unfortunately, being in the express lanes, there was no easy way to circle around for a photo, so I missed it. I'm posting the location so someone else can snag it for me (and submit to my site, pretty please?).

Ontario seems to have abandoned the flashing green in favor of the green arrow on new installations. I noticed that in different areas, pedestrian signals may count to 0 either at the end of green or yellow, which doesn't help me plan my approach to the signal (assuming I can make it through after 0 only to find it yellow on 4). It must be done town by town, if not regionally.

2-way left turn lanes in Ontario have the dashed line on the outside of the solid line, which makes a lot more sense than the American standard of the dashed line on the inside. After all, dashed line means you can cross, solid line means you can't, so how can you legally cross the solid line to enter the TWLTL in the US?

Back to America. Why do school buses open the front door when they stop at railroad tracks? They're able to stop at red lights and stop signs just fine without opening the door. When I was a pedestrian around Boston, I used to consider jumping onto a bus or school bus at the local railroad crossing for fun. If the bus did that at a toll booth, the door would jam or break something.

I lost my trip notes at this point, meaning I had no way back home beyond NY 96. Luckily, as I searched frantically, I dug up the backup copy that had been missing for the first four days. This is why I always print a backup and drop it in the car for safekeeping. Next time, maybe I'll drop it in a more memorable place.

I love my car's hill descent capability. I went downhill into Ithaca on NY 96 SB without touching the brake once - I even had to goose the gas a bit as the hill leveled out. The car in front of me rode the brakes for 2 miles, by comparison.

Into Pennsylvania. I've said it before, PA's state routes would barely qualify as county highways in other states. PA 858 was, if anything, worse than the NY county road that led to it. The roads in PA just follow wherever the landscape goes, instead of providing a smoother, straighter alignment like other states (particularly MD, though NY is good at this as well). There are no shoulders on many roads, or else no shoulder striping, and sometimes not even any center striping. Bear in mind I'm talking about primary, ostensibly signed state highways (though many of them are missing the most basic of reference markers, despite being chevroned to death), not just the 4-digit back roads. Oh, yeah, there are way too many (and unnecessary) warning signs on PA roads, which I'm sure anyone who's driven there knows. End rant.

All that said, PA 858 is devilishly fun to drive, as long as you don't run into any traffic on the way (I didn't). It has no centerline and follows the terrain, making it a challenge to go 60 mph the whole way. Oh, the speed limit is 40? That would be no fun at all. Only go 40 if you or someone you love has motion sickness, in which case you want to avoid PA anyway (among many other reasons). Does Pennsylvania underpost its speed limits? Consider that I took a 25 MPH posted curve at 55 MPH easily - on a road with a 45 MPH limit (that then went back down to 40). So, yes.

I-84 really needs to be extended west across Pennsylvania via the US 6 corridor. US 6 is two lanes with few passing zones, lots of trucks, and construction zone disasters that reduce the main artery in the region to one lane at a long traffic light. I wrote this note while traveling at an inhuman 10 mph. All part of what I hate about Pennsylvania. How can US 6/11 go from 4-lane divided (with a 45 MPH speed limit because PA sucks) to 2-lane undivided, 25 mph, through the center of Clarks Summit? Does PA have no concept of a through road or how to move traffic? Lessons from US 202, US 1, US 222, and many other roads suggest I'm on the money with that.

The VMS on I-380 warned that I-80 EB was closed at Exit 301. There is no Exit 301. I-80 EB wasn't closed, just one lane may have been. Nonetheless, I took my impromptu detour, only to find out that access from PA 611 to I-80 EB is closed. The detour goes via PA 191 and then curls back around backwards on 611 instead of continuing south. I just don't care. I want to get out of PA to get cheaper gas in NJ.

P.S. Final mileage: 2,800, maybe a tiny bit more.

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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #59 on: October 06, 2011, 12:19:48 AM »

Back to America. Why do school buses open the front door when they stop at railroad tracks?
To listen for trains.

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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #60 on: October 08, 2011, 08:12:20 PM »

The school bus topic looks like a good subject - I split it off and moved it to General Highway Talk - http://www.aaroads.com/forum/index.php?topic=5409.0 - The focus here is Alps's on the road adventures.
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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #61 on: October 12, 2011, 11:36:50 PM »

I found a remaining M-C Expressway shield on the 401 westbound just before the 403 split, between the two WB roadways. Unfortunately, being in the express lanes, there was no easy way to circle around for a photo, so I missed it. I'm posting the location so someone else can snag it for me (and submit to my site, pretty please?).

This photo has been online for a couple of years:

The lighting on the sign isn't fantastic, its a tricky sign to photograph, but if your desperate, you can use it on your site.
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Alps

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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #62 on: October 18, 2011, 07:08:00 PM »

I'm desperate for someone to drive by during rush hour and snag a beautiful 12 MP closeup :-D

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Re: Alps on the Road
« Reply #63 on: October 18, 2011, 07:38:56 PM »

I tried last weekend and failed. Rain, dark conditions, fast traffic...
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