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Author Topic: Clinch of I-70 (all of it)  (Read 4140 times)

cpzilliacus

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Clinch of I-70 (all of it)
« on: September 26, 2014, 09:07:57 PM »

Completed my first clinch of a long Interstate, I-70, starting from the (in)famous park-and-ride lot near the Baltimore City/Baltimore County border and headed west, with an initial destination of Denver, Colorado, and then on to Cove Fort, Utah and I-15.

Drove the first day from Baltimore to O'Fallon, Missouri (a suburb of St. Louis).  Stayed on I-70 the whole way (including Breezewood) and a stop at the Pennsylvania Turnpike's New Stanton service plaza.  The western "free" part of I-70 in Pennsylvania is still in terrible condition, though I did see evidence of work to come.  Crossed West Virginia and on to Ohio, hitting Columbus in the afternoon peak period, with lots of traffic headed east (with plenty of congestion) for reasons not clear to me.  Made it to Indiana at dusk, with a little light left as I drove through Indianapolis (Lucas Oil Stadium looks pretty nice from the outside).  Was stuck in construction-related traffic congestion around Terre Haute (never figured out why). Continued across Illinois (on Central Time) and into St. Louis in the dark, and made it to O'Fallon for some sleep.

Left bright and early, and continued west. I-70 across most of Missouri is not a very attractive drive, though I found the ground-mounted DMS (dynamic message sign) panels to be interesting (not sure I have ever seen them installed that way before).   The road seems worn (though pavement mostly smooth), with long stretches of frontage roads for miles beyond St. Louis and Kansas City. I-70 takes a rather twisting path through Kansas City, Missouri, but the reward is an impressive crossing to Kansas City, Kansas, with mile markers that start at 412 and change.  After Kansas City, Kansas, I-70 follows the (northeastern) end of the Kansas Turnpike (with its own and much lower mile markers), exiting at Topeka, where the I-70 mileposts resume. There was a fairly long "Super-2" work zone through Topeka, with all traffic sharing the two westbound lanes.  Once away from Topeka, the road opens up, and for the most part the posted speed limit is 75 MPH, with the exception of another Super-2 workzone (65 MPH) about halfway to Abilene, Kansas. 

Traffic on I-70 in Kansas seemed to be at least 50% trucks (2 axle 6 tires and up), but everyone was nice with lane discipline and the de-facto speed limit was somewhere north of 80 MPH. 

The scenery across Kansas was remarkably attractive to me, not boring as some have asserted.  There are areas of windfarms, as well as oil fields along both sides of the freeway in western Kansas.  The change from Central Time to Mountain Time comes before the Colorado/Kansas border, then the small town of Kanorado, Kansas, then Colorado, which looks exactly like Kansas until past the town of Limon, Colorado, when the Front Range of the Rockies starts to rise up over the western horizon.  Arrived in time for my meeting to start in Denver, and spent 3 1/2 days, there.

Left again early in the morning after the meeting was over and headed west.  It rained - hard - along the approach to the Eisenhower Tunnel.  The grades on both sides of the tunnels (and the Continental Divide) are posted 6%, but they "felt" steeper.  Rained even more on the west side of the tunnels, and ruined my chance to snap some images of Glenwood Canyon, though it is still an impressive highway engineering accomplishment.  Rain continued until I got past Grand Junction, though the scenery was still impressive. 

On to Utah.  The scenery starts off impressively at the border with Colorado, and only gets better.  Stopped in Green River to get my Dad some Polygamy Porter (they had it at one of the truck stops - apparently it's in pretty high demand among passers-by), and continued to the San Rafael Swell.  Impressive highway construction, and impressive landscape by Mother Nature.  In spite of the emptiness of the place, Utah DOT has provided many rest areas and scenic views along the freeway (but no other services at all, and cell coverage is spotty).  After leaving the Swell, I-70 runs southwest/northeast in a valley in western Sevier County, pleasantly green for such a dry place.  It then crosses one final ridge and comes to an end at I-15, which was the only place I saw even one Utah trooper doing anything (including speed enforcement - there were at least four around the I-15/I-70 interchange for reasons not clear to me). 

Turned around after taking some pictures and headed back to my hotel room in Denver.  My timing was good in that I caught the Swell again as it was approaching dusk.  Seeing that (especially the east end) and driving past Green River was impressive as could be.  Back in Colorado in the dark, it rained more, but the traffic was light.  Only problem was a nasty milling and repaving of the eastbound tunnel (the workers were wearing those light masks that were IMO inadequate - I think they should have been using SCUBA equipment for such work in a confined space.), and made it back to my hotel in Denver.  I should have planned to spend a night in Utah instead.

Then headed back to Maryland, mostly taking I-70, with some variations.  Took I-470 instead of I-70 passing Topeka, and then I-435 and I-470 in Kansas City (why did FHWA allow two I-470's so close to each other?). 

Spent the night in Independence, Missouri (for some reason the fire alarm went off in the morning after I woke up), then headed east on I-70, not liking it much better eastbound.  Took I-270 to avoid downtown St. Louis, and saw the bridge construction on the Illinois side of the Mississippi River over the Chain of Rocks Canal.  Continued east on I-70 across Illinois and into Indiana, on road I had driven in the dark headed west.  Had a long and miserable delay again near Terre Haute, as the contractors for Indiana DOT (I think) stopped the one lane of eastbound traffic again.  Got dark as I approached Ohio, so and traffic thinned-out as I left Columbus to almost nothing as I got to I-470 near the Ohio River.  Took that 470 into West Virginia, and then back onto I-70 into southwest Pennsylvania.  It appeared that the contractors for PennDOT had deployed a lot of newly-installed construction signs, but not much else.   Decided to try out Pa. 43 south from I-70, and follow it down to I-68.  It was nearly empty in the early morning hours, though I was disappointed that the interchange at I-68 was still mostly a rural diamond, not a true freeway-to-freeway interchange.  Stopped at the Maryland Welcome Center in Garrett County for several hours of sleep, then continued east after a stop at the Casselman River Bridge State Park to snap some images of the historic (1813) National Road bridge there.

Made it safely home the rest of the way and went to the gym and worked out, then back to the house for a night of deep sleep. 

Other comments:

Freeway in good or better condition in Maryland, Kansas, Colorado and Utah.   

A lot of work areas in Illinois, Indiana and Ohio,  but only those in Indiana caused pain. 

Worst sections by far in Pennsylvania. Even the East-West Mainline of the Pennsylvania Turnpike does not compare favorably with the "free" sections of I-70 in other states. 

Comments and questions welcome.
« Last Edit: September 29, 2014, 02:31:38 PM by cpzilliacus »
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froggie

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Re: Clinch of I-70 (all of it)
« Reply #1 on: September 27, 2014, 11:20:36 AM »

Quote
Took I-470 instead of I-70 passing Topeka, and then I-435 and I-470 in Kansas City (why did FHWA allow two I-470's so close to each other?).

Different states, plus precedent elsewhere.  It should be noted that I-395 DC/MD (39mi), I-695 DC/MD (31mi), and I-291 CT/MA (22mi) are all closer in distance than the two I-470s (62mi).

Quote
Decided to try out Pa. 43 south from I-70, and follow it down to I-68.  It was nearly empty in the early morning hours, though I was disappointed that the interchange at I-68 was still mostly a rural diamond, not a true freeway-to-freeway interchange.

The reasons for this were explained at the Morgantown meet a few years ago.  I don't recall them offhand, but bitmapped might since it was his meet.
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hbelkins

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Re: Clinch of I-70 (all of it)
« Reply #2 on: September 27, 2014, 10:30:34 PM »

The reasons for this were explained at the Morgantown meet a few years ago.  I don't recall them offhand, but bitmapped might since it was his meet.

Lack of funding and low traffic volumes, I believe.
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Revive 755

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Re: Clinch of I-70 (all of it)
« Reply #3 on: September 28, 2014, 10:19:28 PM »

Quote
Took I-470 instead of I-70 passing Topeka, and then I-435 and I-470 in Kansas City (why did FHWA allow two I-470's so close to each other?).

Different states, plus precedent elsewhere.  It should be noted that I-395 DC/MD (39mi), I-695 DC/MD (31mi), and I-291 CT/MA (22mi) are all closer in distance than the two I-470s (62mi).

I believe it also has something to do with the formerly more followed idea of not having interstates and US routes with the same number in the same state - I-270 was not used due to US 270 being in Kansas.  Kansas could have used I-870, but in most places it seems preferable to start with the lowest number available.
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Brandon

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Re: Clinch of I-70 (all of it)
« Reply #4 on: September 29, 2014, 12:10:31 PM »

Quote
Took I-470 instead of I-70 passing Topeka, and then I-435 and I-470 in Kansas City (why did FHWA allow two I-470's so close to each other?).

Different states, plus precedent elsewhere.  It should be noted that I-395 DC/MD (39mi), I-695 DC/MD (31mi), and I-291 CT/MA (22mi) are all closer in distance than the two I-470s (62mi).

I believe it also has something to do with the formerly more followed idea of not having interstates and US routes with the same number in the same state - I-270 was not used due to US 270 being in Kansas.  Kansas could have used I-870, but in most places it seems preferable to start with the lowest number available.

Except, obviously, Wisconsin.  They started with 7 and 8.
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Re: Clinch of I-70 (all of it)
« Reply #5 on: September 29, 2014, 12:52:35 PM »

That's some interesting drive! Then again, I-70 is one of the most interesting freeways in the world, mainly because of its quirky eastern end, which is slated to be reconfigured into a conventional at-grade intersection that would be built in conjunction with something called the Red Line project.
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cpzilliacus

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Re: Clinch of I-70 (all of it)
« Reply #6 on: September 29, 2014, 02:34:21 PM »

The reasons for this were explained at the Morgantown meet a few years ago.  I don't recall them offhand, but bitmapped might since it was his meet.

Lack of funding and low traffic volumes, I believe.

That makes sense - though with an all-freeway routing now available if this interchange were to be upgraded, the federal government should present PennDOT and PTC with an ultimatum regarding Breezewood - fix it - or else I-70 goes a different way.
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cpzilliacus

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Re: Clinch of I-70 (all of it)
« Reply #7 on: September 29, 2014, 02:41:17 PM »

That's some interesting drive! Then again, I-70 is one of the most interesting freeways in the world, mainly because of its quirky eastern end, which is slated to be reconfigured into a conventional at-grade intersection that would be built in conjunction with something called the Red Line project.

Agreed regarding I-70.  A trip along I-70 rewards the motorist many times over in terms of varied landscape and land use along the way.  Want to revisit some of the places along the way, especially in Kansas, Colorado and Utah. 

The Baltimore Red Line is planned to run from the Social Security complex in Woodlawn, Baltimore County, east through downtown Baltimore City, with an eastern terminus near Johns Hopkins Bayview Hospital (a place I know well) on the east side of Baltimore near I-895 and Eastern Avenue. I believe the plans are to take the current westbound lanes of I-70 for the project, which is probably O.K. because the extreme east end of I-70 carries very little traffic.  But IMO a bad choice, because it will be a long walk from the Social Security buildings to the rail stations.
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Re: Clinch of I-70 (all of it)
« Reply #8 on: September 30, 2014, 11:13:29 AM »

Just made the Glenwood Canyon drive, spectacular is the word that comes to mind!
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cpzilliacus

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Re: Clinch of I-70 (all of it)
« Reply #9 on: September 30, 2014, 02:57:16 PM »

Just made the Glenwood Canyon drive, spectacular is the word that comes to mind!

Glenwood Canyon is amazing, even in the rain. 

But IMO the San Rafael Swell in Utah is even better.
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Re: Clinch of I-70 (all of it)
« Reply #10 on: September 30, 2014, 03:40:34 PM »

Just made the Glenwood Canyon drive, spectacular is the word that comes to mind!

Glenwood Canyon is amazing, even in the rain. 

But IMO the San Rafael Swell in Utah is even better.

I also liked San Rafael Swell better.

 


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