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Author Topic: Burg to Burgh (Blacksburg to Pittsburgh)  (Read 1543 times)

VTGoose

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Burg to Burgh (Blacksburg to Pittsburgh)
« on: May 21, 2016, 05:10:32 PM »

It's been a few years since we made the trip "home" to the 'Burgh, though it once was a regular occurrence until our (now late) parents moved to Blacksburg.

It was the standard routing, U.S. 460 west to Princeton, WV, to pick up the West Virginia Turnpike north to Beckley and U.S. 19. That took us to I-79, which got us all the way to Slippery Rock (sister-in-law lives in that area now). Not a bad trip and a definite improvement over what it used to be years ago before I-79 then U.S. 19 were completed.

Building out U.S. 19 as a four-lane highway definitely opened up a big section of West Virginia to development and sprawl. Early on, when it was still a two-lane highway, about the only stopping point along the way was the Dairy Queen in Summersville. It was also an adventure to get further south via "back roads" until the New River Gorge Bridge was completed (and the ultimate connection to the turnpike). Now there are a number of large shopping areas with many choices of fast food around Summersville and between Oak Hill and Fayetteville. This has meant an increase in traffic and more traffic lights.

There was construction north of Oak Hill, pavement repair using the curious method that WVDOT uses all over the place. Instead of just repaving a section of highway and being done with it, the contractor (or state) just digs out sections of bad pavement and pours new concrete in the hole. While this may be cheaper it makes for interesting humps and bumps when the project is finished.

Not much has changed on I-79 in West Virginia, other than even more development at Clarksburg between the Anmoore and Clarksburg exits. I don't know what chain store or restaurant can't be found there. We had to stop at Kroger, so went in from the Anmoore end to avoid the traffic mess at U.S. 50. The bonus to the stop was dinner at Primanti Bros., which apparently is a recent opening there. Left via Anmoore just to avoid the mess at the north end of this massive development.

As we approached Morgantown, there were a number of skeletons of overhead road signs. The reason for this was apparent when we got north of exit 155, where a new interchange is nearing completion. There was a good bit of development on the west side of the interstate in the form of big box stores and office buildings, so some thought must have gone into serving this growing area.

It was nice to hit the Pennsylvania state line and see signs for the 70 MPH speed limit. It was also a disappointment in the past to have to drop to a crawl (so it seemed) due to the low speed limit in PA. The higher speed (other than the odd drop to 55 MPH north of Waynesburg) continued all the way to Laboratory, where it still dropped to 40 MPH. Despite that, it was nice to use the new connection to I-70. Every other time through there, I figured there were engineers at the annual PennDOT Christmas party who busted a gut laughing about that junction -- "We send everyone down this really long steep grade, then have them drop their speed to under 25 MPH to wrap around a ramp that is really too small and too tight. If they miss, they get smeared on a large concrete wall. Once they get wrapped around that ramp, there is no acceleration lane for those poor fools, who have to go from 25 to 60 in 10 seconds WHILE GOING UPHILL!"

Of course, being Pennsylvania, there had to be major construction on I-70. There is a lane shift in Little Washington into the recently rebuilt eastbound lanes. The westbound lanes were pretty much pulverized; it looks like a major rebuilt from the subgrade up. Also, being Pennsylvania, the new pavement was still on the rough side.

Even though the posted speed limit on I-79 from I-70 all the way to Cranberry was 55 MPH, it was largely ignored with traffic moving at or above 65.

One thing that was disconcerting in various parts of the trip was something new to me, but since fewer people really know how to drive anymore, I'm not surprised. I would be moving along in the right lane and someone would creep up in the left lane until they were just shy of my blind spot. Then they would sit there, matched to my speed -- until I approached a slower vehicle. Then the person in the left lane would pick that time to pass me, slowly, gradually pulling up close enough that I didn't have enough room to pull out to pass the vehicle in front of me. To add to the problem, the person in the left lane would take his or her time passing, then move to the right so I had to pass them. A couple miles down the road, it would start all over again.

Depending on conditions and road surface, I might cruise in the left lane, but I'll move to the right if someone comes up behind me. I do my best to be aware of those around me and will slow down or speed up to avoid jamming someone up. Apparently courtesy like this is a thing of the past, though.

The trip back home on Monday should be uneventful (I hope), and perhaps the rain will have passed through so it won't be a miserable drive.

Bruce in Blacksburg (but a native of the 'Burgh)
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froggie

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Re: Burg to Burgh (Blacksburg to Pittsburgh)
« Reply #1 on: May 22, 2016, 08:35:41 AM »

Quote
One thing that was disconcerting in various parts of the trip was something new to me, but since fewer people really know how to drive anymore, I'm not surprised. I would be moving along in the right lane and someone would creep up in the left lane until they were just shy of my blind spot. Then they would sit there, matched to my speed -- until I approached a slower vehicle. Then the person in the left lane would pick that time to pass me, slowly, gradually pulling up close enough that I didn't have enough room to pull out to pass the vehicle in front of me. To add to the problem, the person in the left lane would take his or her time passing, then move to the right so I had to pass them. A couple miles down the road, it would start all over again.

In my experience, a contributing factor here is that drivers either don't know or don't care to use cruise control.  Though I've noticed with some car models that the cruise control is crap.
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hbelkins

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Re: Burg to Burgh (Blacksburg to Pittsburgh)
« Reply #2 on: May 22, 2016, 01:40:24 PM »


In my experience, a contributing factor here is that drivers either don't know or don't care to use cruise control.  Though I've noticed with some car models that the cruise control is crap.

Not just new vehicles. My 1988 S-10 Blazer had cruise. It would fall off 5-10 mph before downshifting and accelerating on an uphill grade, and pick up 10-20 mph going downhill with no engine braking. My 2000 Toyota Tacoma pickup and 2008 Saturn Vue have similar issues.
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CanesFan27

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Re: Burg to Burgh (Blacksburg to Pittsburgh)
« Reply #3 on: May 22, 2016, 03:09:52 PM »

It's been a few years since we made the trip "home" to the 'Burgh, though it once was a regular occurrence until our (now late) parents moved to Blacksburg.

It was the standard routing, U.S. 460 west to Princeton, WV, to pick up the West Virginia Turnpike north to Beckley and U.S. 19. That took us to I-79, which got us all the way to Slippery Rock (sister-in-law lives in that area now). Not a bad trip and a definite improvement over what it used to be years ago before I-79 then U.S. 19 were completed.

Building out U.S. 19 as a four-lane highway definitely opened up a big section of West Virginia to development and sprawl. Early on, when it was still a two-lane highway, about the only stopping point along the way was the Dairy Queen in Summersville. It was also an adventure to get further south via "back roads" until the New River Gorge Bridge was completed (and the ultimate connection to the turnpike). Now there are a number of large shopping areas with many choices of fast food around Summersville and between Oak Hill and Fayetteville. This has meant an increase in traffic and more traffic lights.

There was construction north of Oak Hill, pavement repair using the curious method that WVDOT uses all over the place. Instead of just repaving a section of highway and being done with it, the contractor (or state) just digs out sections of bad pavement and pours new concrete in the hole. While this may be cheaper it makes for interesting humps and bumps when the project is finished.

Not much has changed on I-79 in West Virginia, other than even more development at Clarksburg between the Anmoore and Clarksburg exits. I don't know what chain store or restaurant can't be found there. We had to stop at Kroger, so went in from the Anmoore end to avoid the traffic mess at U.S. 50. The bonus to the stop was dinner at Primanti Bros., which apparently is a recent opening there. Left via Anmoore just to avoid the mess at the north end of this massive development.

As we approached Morgantown, there were a number of skeletons of overhead road signs. The reason for this was apparent when we got north of exit 155, where a new interchange is nearing completion. There was a good bit of development on the west side of the interstate in the form of big box stores and office buildings, so some thought must have gone into serving this growing area.

It was nice to hit the Pennsylvania state line and see signs for the 70 MPH speed limit. It was also a disappointment in the past to have to drop to a crawl (so it seemed) due to the low speed limit in PA. The higher speed (other than the odd drop to 55 MPH north of Waynesburg) continued all the way to Laboratory, where it still dropped to 40 MPH. Despite that, it was nice to use the new connection to I-70. Every other time through there, I figured there were engineers at the annual PennDOT Christmas party who busted a gut laughing about that junction -- "We send everyone down this really long steep grade, then have them drop their speed to under 25 MPH to wrap around a ramp that is really too small and too tight. If they miss, they get smeared on a large concrete wall. Once they get wrapped around that ramp, there is no acceleration lane for those poor fools, who have to go from 25 to 60 in 10 seconds WHILE GOING UPHILL!"

Of course, being Pennsylvania, there had to be major construction on I-70. There is a lane shift in Little Washington into the recently rebuilt eastbound lanes. The westbound lanes were pretty much pulverized; it looks like a major rebuilt from the subgrade up. Also, being Pennsylvania, the new pavement was still on the rough side.

Even though the posted speed limit on I-79 from I-70 all the way to Cranberry was 55 MPH, it was largely ignored with traffic moving at or above 65.

One thing that was disconcerting in various parts of the trip was something new to me, but since fewer people really know how to drive anymore, I'm not surprised. I would be moving along in the right lane and someone would creep up in the left lane until they were just shy of my blind spot. Then they would sit there, matched to my speed -- until I approached a slower vehicle. Then the person in the left lane would pick that time to pass me, slowly, gradually pulling up close enough that I didn't have enough room to pull out to pass the vehicle in front of me. To add to the problem, the person in the left lane would take his or her time passing, then move to the right so I had to pass them. A couple miles down the road, it would start all over again.

Depending on conditions and road surface, I might cruise in the left lane, but I'll move to the right if someone comes up behind me. I do my best to be aware of those around me and will slow down or speed up to avoid jamming someone up. Apparently courtesy like this is a thing of the past, though.

The trip back home on Monday should be uneventful (I hope), and perhaps the rain will have passed through so it won't be a miserable drive.

Bruce in Blacksburg (but a native of the 'Burgh)


They are widening 70 to six lanes between the two I-79 interchanges. 

What has surprised me over the years of taking 79/19/77 through WV is how Fayetteville has grown - more specifically the traveler's options there.  You are correct Summersville was the only real stop but in the past 10-15 years there's been a lot more development in Fayetteville.  Yes, there have been I think one or two more lights since I started to regularly drive the route (2-6x even more a year) in 2000, but they did eliminate the old signal at Lochgelly Road just north of Oak Hill proper.

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