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Author Topic: Corridor H  (Read 387648 times)

Beltway

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Re: Corridor H
« Reply #1075 on: December 16, 2018, 03:12:13 PM »

Corridor H from Elkins westward to I-79 is in the 9,000 to 12,000 AADT range, and that seems a better measure of what to expect on a corridor between a major town and an Interstate highway.
What major towns are there east of Elkins? The biggest, Moorefield, has 2500 people and no cultural/healthcare/shopping connection to anything along the I-79 corridor.
Because Corridor H shifts so far north, it serves as a poor route from Morgantown and points north to anything east of Elkins. The best route from Morgantown to Parsons, via WV 92 and WV 38, is 56 miles shorter than via Corridor H. Same goes for Morgantown to Thomas and to Bismarck-and-east, where the best routes are via Oakland, MD. For access to Clarksburg from Parsons and east, the route of Corridor H is basically a draw with existing highways.
Corridor H's utility is mostly as a through route. It's not a shortcut for people on the north. How much traffic is going from I-64 to the DC area? Corridor L (US 19) filled in an obvious gap in the network in a way that Corridor H does not.

Martinsburg, Charles Town, Winchester, Front Royal, the I-66 corridor … Corridor H connects all them to central West Virginia via I-79 and I-64 and I-81.  Hopefully Virginia will build their segment to 4-lane standards when the corridor is nearing completion in West Virginia.

Corridor H as conceived is an extension of I-66 albeit to expressway standards.

« Last Edit: December 16, 2018, 03:20:59 PM by Beltway »
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hbelkins

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Re: Corridor H
« Reply #1076 on: December 16, 2018, 06:44:55 PM »

Even without the completion of the route from Kerens to Davis, or the Virginia section, US 48 is my preferred way to get to the northeast. I'd much rather exit I-79 at Weston and take US 48 over to I-81, than continue on to Morgantown and use I-68 and then either US 220/PA Turnpike or I-70 to reach I-81.

The route's whole purpose -- the system's whole purpose -- is to enhance economic development. This particular route will improve access from the Ohio Valley to Washington DC, the inland port at Front Royal, and many other locations.

I wish Kentucky had built its ADHS routes all as four-lane routes. After the fact, we're going to four-lane US 119 between Whitesburg and Jenkins. Meanwhile they're still building two-lane sections of 119 in Letcher and Harlan counties.
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cpzilliacus

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Re: Corridor H
« Reply #1077 on: December 16, 2018, 07:46:54 PM »

Corridor H from Elkins westward to I-79 is in the 9,000 to 12,000 AADT range, and that seems a better measure of what to expect on a corridor between a major town and an Interstate highway.
What major towns are there east of Elkins? The biggest, Moorefield, has 2500 people and no cultural/healthcare/shopping connection to anything along the I-79 corridor.
Because Corridor H shifts so far north, it serves as a poor route from Morgantown and points north to anything east of Elkins. The best route from Morgantown to Parsons, via WV 92 and WV 38, is 56 miles shorter than via Corridor H. Same goes for Morgantown to Thomas and to Bismarck-and-east, where the best routes are via Oakland, MD. For access to Clarksburg from Parsons and east, the route of Corridor H is basically a draw with existing highways.
Corridor H's utility is mostly as a through route. It's not a shortcut for people on the north. How much traffic is going from I-64 to the DC area? Corridor L (US 19) filled in an obvious gap in the network in a way that Corridor H does not.

Martinsburg, Charles Town, Winchester, Front Royal, the I-66 corridor … Corridor H connects all them to central West Virginia via I-79 and I-64 and I-81.  Hopefully Virginia will build their segment to 4-lane standards when the corridor is nearing completion in West Virginia.

Corridor H as conceived is an extension of I-66 albeit to expressway standards.

Agree that Corridor H will mostly be a "thru" route, though  it will also serve smaller towns like Buckhannon, Elkins, Parsons, Thomas and Davis, Oakland (Maryland), Mount Storm, Moorefield and Wardensville.

It was moved north from the original U.S. 33 "racetrack" route  because of various objections to that route (I do not feel like re-hashing that very old argument now) - and improving access to recreational and park assets in Tucker County was not a terrible decision.  IIRC, it is 70+ miles now from I-79 at Weston to Thomas and Davis.  It also makes Thomas and Davis a much easier trip from Northern Virginia and other points east, and provides an alternate to I-68 for travelers desiring to reach  Garrett County, Maryland.

Regarding filling gaps, there's one gap that Corridor H  does help with - a lot - improving highway access to the Virginia Inland Port north of I-66 near Front Royal, and will make the Inland Port an easier and shorter drive from the I-79 corridor (current choices now are I-64 to I-81 or I-68 to U.S. 522).  I do not consider U.S. 250, U.S. 33 or U.S. 50 to be viable alternatives for most truck traffic.

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cpzilliacus

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Re: Corridor H
« Reply #1078 on: December 16, 2018, 07:50:44 PM »

The route's whole purpose -- the system's whole purpose -- is to enhance economic development. This particular route will improve access from the Ohio Valley to Washington DC, the inland port at Front Royal, and many other locations.

I strongly agree with the above.  Especially economic development.

I do hope we get a federal administration and both houses of Congress - at some point - that understands that completing the proposed ADHS network, which should be  a national priority - sooner rather than later - is a good thing.
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cpzilliacus

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Re: Corridor H
« Reply #1079 on: December 16, 2018, 08:12:46 PM »

The Corridor H Alternatives site is still online here.  The CHA alternatives are here.  Does not appear to have been updated since 2001.

Corridor H had opposition from longtime local environmental groups like the West Virginia Highlands Conservancy. It wasn't just astroturf or people from outside the area.

I understand that there were local groups, but I also wonder how many of those local groups were made up of people that had moved out "to the country" from metropolitan areas like Washington, and wanted to keep all economic development out?  I also strongly suspect that Virginia's Piedmont Environmental Council (PEC, main office in Warrenton, Virginia) may have had a hand in funding opposition to Corridor H.  Some of the wording on those CHA pages sound suspiciously like other things that came out of PEC in the 1990's.

As someone who frequently travels in the Potomac Highlands and is very familiar with Corridor H and the existing road network, I'll say the listed alternatives weren't all that unreasonable for the existing traffic in the area. WV has a tendency to want to build new 4-lane highways all over the place, including along many corridors with little through traffic (see King Coal Highway and Coalfields Expressway for other examples). Since this is tremendously expensive, these projects rarely come to fruition and when they do, they take decades.

I know the highway network of northern West Virginia and far eastern West Virginia (roughly Morgantown to Harpers Ferry) pretty well, though probably not as well as you.

Having driven east-west arterials like U.S. 250, U.S. 33, and U.S. 50, upgrading those to something approaching Super-2 would not have come cheaply, and given relocation costs (U.S. 50 especially has a fair amount of development close by, perhaps because parts of it date to being the 19th century Northwestern Turnpike originally), a greenfield Corridor H was probably a good idea.  I think it was reasonable to engineer Corridor H as a four-lane highway, given the climbing lanes that would be needed along much of it and the reality that many U.S. drivers do not know how to drive safely on high-speed two-lane arterials.

For the cost of Corridor H or these other projects, WVDOH could build many, many smaller projects like turn lanes, passing lanes, and curve realignments. These projects would do a lot more to improve safety and travel time for average residents in these counties than Corridor H. WVDOH has finally started to recognize the benefit of this type of improvement with its current work on WV 10 between Man and Princeton, which is focused on widening lanes and shoulders and fixing bad curves.

I take no issue with upgrading existing roads, though I still suspect that Corridor H opponents were offering the alternative to upgrade older roads in bad faith. 

But as H.B. pointed out (as have senior state DOT officials in Virginia and Maryland), the idea behind ADHS was (and remains) economic development, and to induce demand for people to visit the places along the way.  Upgrades to those U.S. routes probably do not result in much economic development. Providing a new route for trucks across West Virginia will happen  with a completed Corridor H as well.
« Last Edit: December 16, 2018, 08:14:52 PM by cpzilliacus »
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hbelkins

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Re: Corridor H
« Reply #1080 on: December 16, 2018, 10:29:37 PM »

But as H.B. pointed out (as have senior state DOT officials in Virginia and Maryland), the idea behind ADHS was (and remains) economic development, and to induce demand for people to visit the places along the way.  Upgrades to those U.S. routes probably do not result in much economic development. Providing a new route for trucks across West Virginia will happen  with a completed Corridor H as well.

I've mentioned this before, but Moorefield has already seen some growth since the road was built. Sheetz, McDonald's, and some retail stores have been built near the interchange since the route was extended west of US 220. Moorefield's never going to be Morgantown or Martinsburg or Clarksburg, or even Elkins, but it's bigger than what it was pre-Corridor H.

I'd also posit that Buckhannon's growth is due in large part to Corridor H.

I'm a bit surprised, though, that the development in Elkins continues to concentrate south of town, instead of out by the expressway.
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Bitmapped

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Re: Corridor H
« Reply #1081 on: December 16, 2018, 10:55:02 PM »

I've mentioned this before, but Moorefield has already seen some growth since the road was built. Sheetz, McDonald's, and some retail stores have been built near the interchange since the route was extended west of US 220. Moorefield's never going to be Morgantown or Martinsburg or Clarksburg, or even Elkins, but it's bigger than what it was pre-Corridor H.

I'd also posit that Buckhannon's growth is due in large part to Corridor H.

I'm a bit surprised, though, that the development in Elkins continues to concentrate south of town, instead of out by the expressway.

The Sheetz in Moorefield replaced an old store a mile down the road at the intersection of US 220 and Old WV 55. There was already a retail strip on the north side of town before Corridor H.

The strip on the north side of Buckhannon is largely a migration from what was previously on the south side of town by Tennerton.

The bulk of the population in Randolph County outside of Elkins is south of town, as is Pocahontas County, for which Elkins is the shopping center. The south side of Elkins makes more sense than along Corridor H for stores.
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Re: Corridor H
« Reply #1082 on: December 17, 2018, 11:10:11 AM »

So spending millions of dollars so that they can keep some Sheetz gas stations open, in light of falling population. Clearly money well spent.
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Starfighterace

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Re: Corridor H
« Reply #1083 on: December 17, 2018, 11:49:11 AM »

As someone who travels a lot to the Midwest as part of my employment, the sections now open of Corridor H has cut a full hour off of my trip. I also now buy gas and food along this route. I'm not the only one. Making it easier to get to the Davis and Senaca Rocks tourist areas is drawing my friends to go here instead of many Maryland or PA tourist areas. I think it was money well spent. Your mileage may vary.
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seicer

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Re: Corridor H
« Reply #1084 on: December 17, 2018, 11:52:23 AM »

Corridor H still has a 2.7 benefit-cost ratio, which is higher than other corridors. They were looking at more than just economic development in presenting the bigger picture of what Corridor H could deliver.

But a bigger question is that some of these projects are nothing more than pork-barrel spending. How can $1 billion be justified to build a four-lane King Coal Highway (not an ADHS corridor) when the entire southwest part of the state is in steep economic and population decline? Would a highway deliver benefits that the existing two- and four-lane highways and railroads could not?

And in general, new highways shouldn't be built just to provide economic development and should be built on a more holistic standpoint. That's one of the biggest aggravating issues with I-69: it's very high cost to develop a mostly new-terrain route to somehow promote a Mexico-Canada economic pipeline that isn't any different than highways on other corridors. What makes I-69 special in comparison to a more settled I-30? Or relating to this topic, why would a company locate along Corridor H in Thomas at that one small industrial park, far from any major population and logistic centers, than I-79 and/or I-68 near Morgantown?
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AlexandriaVA

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Re: Corridor H
« Reply #1085 on: December 17, 2018, 12:06:48 PM »

Spending on gas stations and food are fine for the owners and employees of those particular establishments, but you were going to buy food and gas on your drive anyway. So one grouping of service businesses won, at the expense of another. Money is just being reallocated...no real economic development going on.

The savings of an hour is real, I don't dispute that. But again, how many people-hours is that saving over the course of a year, and at what cost.

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hbelkins

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Re: Corridor H
« Reply #1086 on: December 17, 2018, 12:18:58 PM »

Spending on gas stations and food are fine for the owners and employees of those particular establishments, but you were going to buy food and gas on your drive anyway. So one grouping of service businesses won, at the expense of another. Money is just being reallocated...no real economic development going on.

The savings of an hour is real, I don't dispute that. But again, how many people-hours is that saving over the course of a year, and at what cost.



So spending millions of dollars so that they can keep some Sheetz gas stations open, in light of falling population. Clearly money well spent.

Says the guy who already lives in a place with good roads.

Here, I've got a little game for you. Drive west from your metro DC paradise and get off the interstate at Strasburg. Then, head west on US 48. Pretend those places in Moorefield don't exist. Then hope you don't get hungry, or need gas, anywhere between Strasburg and Parsons.
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Re: Corridor H
« Reply #1087 on: December 17, 2018, 12:24:48 PM »

^ I played that "game" a bit when I was stationed in D.C.  Would range as far as Davis and typically wouldn't need gas or food until I was back east of 81.  And this was before the corridor was opened west of Moorefield.
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seicer

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Re: Corridor H
« Reply #1088 on: December 17, 2018, 01:05:21 PM »

These comparisons are useless and divisive. To bring the topic back to Corridor H, many of the replacements were not all that bad. WV 93 east of Davis was built in 1964 and had a very low traffic count with very long passing areas, gravel shoulders, and little to no development along its route. The grade down The Allegheny Front was two-lane but with numerous turnouts and passing lanes, more than adequate for the traffic counts and the minimal amount of truck traffic it received. And the other routes I mentioned earlier were built in the 1950's and early 1960's and feature very low traffic counts, very long passing areas, and soft shoulders. To upgrade these to a very good two-lane facility with hard shoulders and more climbing lanes would have been far cheaper than the all new terrain Corridor H and would have made them into a "good road."

And why shouldn't US 119/Corridor F in southeast Kentucky not be two-lane? It is well justified for its traffic projections. And is a tunnel even needed under Pine Mountain? Is the accident rate on the vastly improved mountain crossing that much higher than average? Would tolls even remotely cover the cost of the new tunnel? (Probably not.)

Not everything needs to be four-lane for the sake of being four-lane. That shouldn't be the definition of a "good road." And Kentucky (among other states) has many dubious examples of highways being built to areas for "economic development" with zero or little return on investment.
« Last Edit: December 17, 2018, 01:08:06 PM by seicer »
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SP Cook

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Re: Corridor H
« Reply #1089 on: December 17, 2018, 01:16:56 PM »

With all respect, the idea that some on-the-cheap passing lanes or whatever is an alternative to construction of a proper safe high speed highway is just wrong. 

I have lived in Appalachia all my life, and understand what motor travel was before the interstates and corridors.  You simply could not get anywhere.  Two lane roads just do not work for inter-regional travel in mountainous areas.  They just do not.  It was pretty much impossible to maintain an average of even 40 MPH over a sustained trip.  Just the facts. 

As with all "alternatives" to building a proper road, they just do not work in the real world. 
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Life in Paradise

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Re: Corridor H
« Reply #1090 on: December 17, 2018, 01:25:03 PM »

With all respect, the idea that some on-the-cheap passing lanes or whatever is an alternative to construction of a proper safe high speed highway is just wrong. 

I have lived in Appalachia all my life, and understand what motor travel was before the interstates and corridors.  You simply could not get anywhere.  Two lane roads just do not work for inter-regional travel in mountainous areas.  They just do not.  It was pretty much impossible to maintain an average of even 40 MPH over a sustained trip.  Just the facts. 

As with all "alternatives" to building a proper road, they just do not work in the real world.
I totally agree.  I don't live in Appalachia, but I have made trips often enough through different regions of Appalachia.  Passing lanes can be good at times, but on heavier traveled routes, they would not normally be enough.  The major projects that lessen the slopes and bring in a four lane does help the overall commerce of an area.  Even a low number of truck traffic on a mountain road can cause havoc since it might be 10-15 miles before you can appropriately get around it.

Its also interesting to see the discussion move from "not everything has to be an interstate; four lanes with grade crossings can be appropriate" to not everything has to be four lanes; two lanes with some passing lanes are OK.  We are talking about what our country has made as a priority as a major artery, so the hopes are funneling more traffic to that artery, so the four lanes should be a requirement.
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seicer

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Re: Corridor H
« Reply #1091 on: December 17, 2018, 03:04:55 PM »

I thankfully had access to decent four-lane roads as a lifelong resident in Appalachia, but do know the pain of having to travel on antiquated roads. But when major highway projects can cost up to $1 billion to serve a rapidly depopulating area (using the King Coal example), what would be the return on the investment? Would it ever be worth $1 billion to construct a four-lane highway to serve few, if any industries? To serve shrinking towns of 2,000 that are declining absent of an over-reliance on one industry? In that case, the state has realized that it can build a viable two-lane road, on a four-lane ROW, at a far cheaper cost in order to get the route developed quicker.

It's more of a theoretical question more or less centered on economics (as that is one of the major factors for the development of the ADHS corridors). There are other factors that can go into developing a corridor, such as time considerations, logistics, tourism, etc.
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Beltway

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Re: Corridor H
« Reply #1092 on: December 17, 2018, 04:15:17 PM »

I have lived in Appalachia all my life, and understand what motor travel was before the interstates and corridors.  You simply could not get anywhere.  Two lane roads just do not work for inter-regional travel in mountainous areas.  They just do not.  It was pretty much impossible to maintain an average of even 40 MPH over a sustained trip.  Just the facts. 

2-lane highways have inherent limitations for inter-regional highways, even in level and gently rolling terrain.  It doesn't take much more than about 5,000 AADT and a 10% large truck percentage to seriously bog down such a highway in the higher daily traffic times.  On a trip of 50 to 100 miles or more this leads to very inefficient travel and poor service for the towns and cities along the way.   With 4 lanes divided you have a continuous passing lane each way and a divider separating oncoming traffic.  There is simply no comparison.
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hbelkins

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Re: Corridor H
« Reply #1093 on: December 17, 2018, 04:23:20 PM »

Other than the dam at Mt. Storm Lake, I don't understand why a mostly new-terrain route was built for Corridor H. I don't understand why they didn't build two parallel lanes, like Virginia does, and then rebuild the base and that one substandard bridge on WV 93.
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Beltway

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Re: Corridor H
« Reply #1094 on: December 17, 2018, 04:29:18 PM »

Other than the dam at Mt. Storm Lake, I don't understand why a mostly new-terrain route was built for Corridor H. I don't understand why they didn't build two parallel lanes, like Virginia does, and then rebuild the base and that one substandard bridge on WV 93.

Looks like they would have to follow at least 3 different existing highways, including relocations in some places and some town bypasses.

Based on similar terrain and construction post-1990, a more comparable project would be US-58 between I-77 and Stuart, with major relocations in some places and a total rebuild where it follows the existing highway.  And like Corridor H, this highway still has some links not yet built.
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seicer

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Re: Corridor H
« Reply #1095 on: December 18, 2018, 12:54:00 PM »

Sidebar, Streetview is on the newest segment of Corridor H near Thomas/Davis: https://goo.gl/maps/EZavALDkNnM2

I also didn't realize US 48 was co-signed down to Karens from Davis.
« Last Edit: December 18, 2018, 01:04:09 PM by seicer »
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hbelkins

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Re: Corridor H
« Reply #1096 on: December 18, 2018, 03:03:00 PM »

Other than the dam at Mt. Storm Lake, I don't understand why a mostly new-terrain route was built for Corridor H. I don't understand why they didn't build two parallel lanes, like Virginia does, and then rebuild the base and that one substandard bridge on WV 93.

Looks like they would have to follow at least 3 different existing highways, including relocations in some places and some town bypasses.

I just meant the section between Davis and Scherr that utilizes WV 93. That road was already flat and relatively straight.

Sidebar, Streetview is on the newest segment of Corridor H near Thomas/Davis: https://goo.gl/maps/EZavALDkNnM2

I also didn't realize US 48 was co-signed down to Karens from Davis.

It's been signed all the way to I-79 for a couple of years now.
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Roadsguy

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Re: Corridor H
« Reply #1097 on: December 18, 2018, 05:23:05 PM »

I'm more interested in those neat Corridor H mile markers. Has that H shield ever been seen on a standalone sign?
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Bitmapped

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Re: Corridor H
« Reply #1098 on: December 18, 2018, 07:15:40 PM »

I'm more interested in those neat Corridor H mile markers. Has that H shield ever been seen on a standalone sign?

No. The shield is only used on the ARC corridor mile markers.
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Re: Corridor H
« Reply #1099 on: December 18, 2018, 09:17:03 PM »

I'm more interested in those neat Corridor H mile markers. Has that H shield ever been seen on a standalone sign?

No. The shield is only used on the ARC corridor mile markers.

The pre-I-22 US 78 blue-on-white shields featuring "Corridor X" in the surrounding field were actually quite striking; has any other ARC's corridor's route shielding contained corridor ID along with the route number like that example?   One would think that a high-visibility corridor project with significant new-terrain mileage like H would have done something similar with their US 48 signage. 
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