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Author Topic: Whats with thick tree medians on VA Interstates?  (Read 8548 times)

Jmiles32

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Whats with thick tree medians on VA Interstates?
« on: July 15, 2016, 12:10:15 PM »

Why do I-85, most of I-64, and I-95 in Virginia(although because of the HOT lanes only the stretch from Fredericksburg to Richmond) all have thick tree medians in the middle of the road that stretch miles? Were those interstates purposely built like that for some reason? It seems to be very unique.
The only interstate that I can think of that has a VA like tree median not in VA is I-26 in SC near Charleston, but I understand SCDOT is cutting down that tree median because they think its a "Safety Hazzard".

In my personal opinion I have neutral feelings towards these tree medians. At first the trees can be very calm and relaxing are a nice change from city traffic(Used on VA-288), but after a while if overused(I-85) and all I've been looking at is nothing but trees for an hour, it can really boring and I begin to feel locked in by them.

Why is this common only on VA Interstates and if not, where else? How does anyone else feel about them? Should they stay or should they go?

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1995hoo

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Re: Whats with thick tree medians on VA Interstates?
« Reply #1 on: July 15, 2016, 12:44:32 PM »

I kind of like it at night because they help mask headlight glare from traffic going the other way (compared to, say, I-95 in Florida). Of course trees also mean deer risk.

I guess because I've spent so much of my life in Virginia it's never struck me as odd at all.
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froggie

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Re: Whats with thick tree medians on VA Interstates?
« Reply #2 on: July 15, 2016, 01:27:58 PM »

It's not as rare as one may think.  Lengthy segments of Interstate in AL, MS, FL (mainly I-10), NH, NY, and VT all have such wide tree-filled medians.  Though Mississippi in recent years has also started cutting lengthy swaths of trees down due to their perception of FHWA safety guidelines.
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Re: Whats with thick tree medians on VA Interstates?
« Reply #3 on: July 15, 2016, 01:34:07 PM »

Also happens on a few rural Kentucky interstates, specifically I-64 between Shelbyville and Frankfort -- which is also heavily populated with deer.

I suspect the auto body shop lobby got to the highway designers. If it was within my power to do so, I'd order every freeway median clear-cut.
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froggie

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Re: Whats with thick tree medians on VA Interstates?
« Reply #4 on: July 15, 2016, 01:36:18 PM »

Quote
I suspect the auto body shop lobby got to the highway designers.

Nice conspiracy theory, but not the case in my realms of experience.
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LM117

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Re: Whats with thick tree medians on VA Interstates?
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2016, 02:01:22 PM »

The trees make it easier for cops to hide and set up speed traps. :spin:
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1995hoo

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Re: Whats with thick tree medians on VA Interstates?
« Reply #6 on: July 15, 2016, 02:10:33 PM »

The trees make it easier for cops to hide and set up speed traps. :spin:

Not as much as some people think. Often a cop will be parked back into the trees perpendicular to the road. Can't run much of a speedtrap that way unless you plan to pull out and pace people. Radar doesn't give an accurate speed reading from that angle.
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Takumi

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Re: Whats with thick tree medians on VA Interstates?
« Reply #7 on: July 15, 2016, 02:16:32 PM »

Yeah, I haven't seen a speed trap on the tree-lined part of 288 in a few years. (Doesn't mean it doesn't happen, obviously.)
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jeffandnicole

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Re: Whats with thick tree medians on VA Interstates?
« Reply #8 on: July 15, 2016, 02:17:31 PM »

Even in congested NJ, there are highways like that in some areas.  The NJ Turnpike, even though today it's basically one long 118 mile jersey barrier up the center median, actually had some wider, maybe even tree filled medians way back when.

The Garden State Parkway was purposely built with large medians because that's what a Parkway was envisioned to be - a nice, calm ride to the various shore points.  It was never envisioned to be a heavily travelled, 10 - 15 lane wide hellhole with actual speeds way over the speed limit.

295 has some tree-heavy medians.  A stretch of highway between the former rest areas around MP 49 and Exit 52 is actually a very pretty, scenic stretch of highway, especially in the fall.

NJ 55's median was originally vastly clear-cut, with the intention of a putting a rail line in the middle.  As that rail line was never built, they allowed the median to grow wild, and is now a dense, thick forest of trees.

The trees make it easier for cops to hide and set up speed traps. :spin:

Not as much as some people think. Often a cop will be parked back into the trees perpendicular to the road. Can't run much of a speedtrap that way unless you plan to pull out and pace people. Radar doesn't give an accurate speed reading from that angle.

Yep.  All you need is a small hill, and cops can hide in plain view at the crest.  Or in the shadow of an overpass.  Anymore, I've seen cops hide in plain view on straight, level, clear roadways.  People zone out while driving (or text, or play certain app-based games), and will pass that cop without ever knowing he was there.
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SP Cook

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Re: Whats with thick tree medians on VA Interstates?
« Reply #9 on: July 15, 2016, 02:20:42 PM »

Deer:  Are deer that smart?  So a deer is willing to run across two lanes to get to what it thinks is the woods on the other side, but would be unwilling to run across two lanes, a median, and two more lanes?   I would have to see the insurance companies'  data on that one.

Safety:  Yes, if we are talking about total accidents, because obviously it is possible to hit a grass median and do no damage to the car.  But, the worst accident, which is the cross over accident, cannot happen with tree medians.  This is why many states are installing cable barriers in medians.  Again, I would want to see what the insurance companies say.

Cops:  All traffic enforcement is illigitimate, of course, but yes, the cop hidden in the median is a common trick.

Driving:  It is not just in Virginia, and it does get borsome after a while.

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qguy

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Re: Whats with thick tree medians on VA Interstates?
« Reply #10 on: July 15, 2016, 02:36:12 PM »

In Pennsylvania, I-80 (along its entire length), I-81 (along its most of its length, the exceptions being south of Carlisle and between Harrisburg and I-78), I-70 (south/east of the PA Turnpike), I-84 (along its entire length), I-380 (along its entire length), and US 322 (between the Lewistown narrows and the Susquehanna River—technically not an interstate but built to interstate standards of the time in that area) have long lengths of tree-filled, wide, variable-width median. I guess you could say that the majority of PA interstates and interstate-grade highways are like this. So like froggie said, it's not just Virginia.

The one great exception to the variable-width median in PA is of course the PA Turnpike, which except for a few locations features a narrow, constant-width median along its entire length, both main trunk and Northeast Extension.

A lot of the forested mileage features median that was left at or near original grade, either higher or lower than the roadway, so you often have duel cuts with trees towering between the opposing carriageways. Especially dramatic is where there are tall cuts beside a very high median with trees atop. In some spots, like I-99 through the Steam Valley area and some locations on I-81 in central PA, opposing carriageways are on opposite sides of a dramatic valley.

I love the variable-width, forested medians. I find they produce the largest variety of scenery and views while I'm driving, which helps to decrease the likelihood of so-called highway narcosis. I also think it's just plain more fun to drive.

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1995hoo

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Re: Whats with thick tree medians on VA Interstates?
« Reply #11 on: July 15, 2016, 02:36:50 PM »

Regarding the cops, so much is common sense. Cops don't like sitting in the hot sun any more than anyone else. On days like yesterday (heat index 106° here), the shade under an overpass is a prime speedtrap location.

I don't really favor unnecessarily cutting down trees in general, not just as to highway medians. I hate the way new housing developments now first see the land clear-cut. I know it's cheaper and easier for the builder, but I hate seeing big old trees cut down like that.
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mhh

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Re: Whats with thick tree medians on VA Interstates?
« Reply #12 on: July 15, 2016, 02:57:00 PM »

Why do I-85, most of I-64, and I-95 in Virginia(although because of the HOT lanes only the stretch from Fredericksburg to Richmond) all have thick tree medians in the middle of the road that stretch miles? Were those interstates purposely built like that for some reason? It seems to be very unique.
The only interstate that I can think of that has a VA like tree median not in VA is I-26 in SC near Charleston, but I understand SCDOT is cutting down that tree median because they think its a "Safety Hazzard".

In my personal opinion I have neutral feelings towards these tree medians. At first the trees can be very calm and relaxing are a nice change from city traffic(Used on VA-288), but after a while if overused(I-85) and all I've been looking at is nothing but trees for an hour, it can really boring and I begin to feel locked in by them.

Why is this common only on VA Interstates and if not, where else? How does anyone else feel about them? Should they stay or should they go?

It's really not so unique. I-75 in northern lower Michigan is very similar and very scenic.
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seicer

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Re: Whats with thick tree medians on VA Interstates?
« Reply #13 on: July 15, 2016, 03:35:23 PM »

Doesn't that median also get... very wide in areas? I am thinking that the medians along I-64 in parts of Virginia are 80' with trees filling the center.
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Brandon

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Re: Whats with thick tree medians on VA Interstates?
« Reply #14 on: July 15, 2016, 05:25:12 PM »

Why do I-85, most of I-64, and I-95 in Virginia(although because of the HOT lanes only the stretch from Fredericksburg to Richmond) all have thick tree medians in the middle of the road that stretch miles? Were those interstates purposely built like that for some reason? It seems to be very unique.
The only interstate that I can think of that has a VA like tree median not in VA is I-26 in SC near Charleston, but I understand SCDOT is cutting down that tree median because they think its a "Safety Hazzard".

In my personal opinion I have neutral feelings towards these tree medians. At first the trees can be very calm and relaxing are a nice change from city traffic(Used on VA-288), but after a while if overused(I-85) and all I've been looking at is nothing but trees for an hour, it can really boring and I begin to feel locked in by them.

Why is this common only on VA Interstates and if not, where else? How does anyone else feel about them? Should they stay or should they go?

It's really not so unique. I-75 in northern lower Michigan is very similar and very scenic.

Not to mention other areas along I-96 and I-69.  I-94 is much older, and lacks the wider medians.
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Re: Whats with thick tree medians on VA Interstates?
« Reply #15 on: July 15, 2016, 08:04:31 PM »

Why do I-85, most of I-64, and I-95 in Virginia(although because of the HOT lanes only the stretch from Fredericksburg to Richmond) all have thick tree medians in the middle of the road that stretch miles? Were those interstates purposely built like that for some reason? It seems to be very unique.
The only interstate that I can think of that has a VA like tree median not in VA is I-26 in SC near Charleston, but I understand SCDOT is cutting down that tree median because they think its a "Safety Hazzard".

In my personal opinion I have neutral feelings towards these tree medians. At first the trees can be very calm and relaxing are a nice change from city traffic(Used on VA-288), but after a while if overused(I-85) and all I've been looking at is nothing but trees for an hour, it can really boring and I begin to feel locked in by them.

Why is this common only on VA Interstates and if not, where else? How does anyone else feel about them? Should they stay or should they go?

A lot of the sections that have trees in the median were built in the early years of the Interstate Highway System.  More modern interstates that have trees in the middle are now located far enough away from the roadway in case they collapse on the roadway.

As for South Carolina cutting trees down on I-26, they say its for safety but also a cheaper alternative to what really needs to be done to the highway and that is to bring it up to current Interstate standards.
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Re: Whats with thick tree medians on VA Interstates?
« Reply #16 on: July 16, 2016, 01:07:05 AM »

I love tree-medians or grade-medians. You can drive with your highs on the entire time and not have to worry about blinding oncoming traffic.
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Re: Whats with thick tree medians on VA Interstates?
« Reply #17 on: July 16, 2016, 02:18:38 AM »

There are some off interstate non freeway roads with trees in the median.  US 301 through Fort AP Hill for one and that is in VA.

US 19 & 98 from Lebanon Station to Chiefland in Florida has (or had) a tree lined median.

US 13 from Princess Anne, MD to Fruitland, MD has a tree lined center.
US 50 from Salisbury, MD to US 113 just west of Ocean City.

Anyway, headlight glare is the main reason, and to give you that feeling of being on a Parkway.

Also I-287 in Northern NJ has stretches near Bedminster and in Bridgewater there is a section from US 202/206 to US 22 that has it wide. 

I-78 has it between I-287 and the Watchung Reservation in Berkley Heights.

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Re: Whats with thick tree medians on VA Interstates?
« Reply #18 on: July 16, 2016, 09:09:55 AM »

Why do I-85, most of I-64, and I-95 in Virginia(although because of the HOT lanes only the stretch from Fredericksburg to Richmond) all have thick tree medians in the middle of the road that stretch miles? Were those interstates purposely built like that for some reason? It seems to be very unique.
The only interstate that I can think of that has a VA like tree median not in VA is I-26 in SC near Charleston, but I understand SCDOT is cutting down that tree median because they think its a "Safety Hazzard".

In my personal opinion I have neutral feelings towards these tree medians. At first the trees can be very calm and relaxing are a nice change from city traffic(Used on VA-288), but after a while if overused(I-85) and all I've been looking at is nothing but trees for an hour, it can really boring and I begin to feel locked in by them.

Why is this common only on VA Interstates and if not, where else? How does anyone else feel about them? Should they stay or should they go?
The technical term for these widely-separated roadways is "bifurcated highway." When they were first built in VA (around 1970 more or less) they were thought to be a great advance in safety.

The ultimate bifurcation might be on I-85 near Lexington NC where the two roadways actually cross over one another (https://goo.gl/maps/fEvvcH9ew1p). This means the vehicles going the opposite direction are now on your right instead of your left, but you can't see them for the trees. This design enabled NC to place a rest area in the middle of the bifurcation, with exits on the right for both directions.
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Re: Whats with thick tree medians on VA Interstates?
« Reply #19 on: July 16, 2016, 09:53:27 AM »

I-70 in Frederick and Washington Counties in Maryland has long sections of wide and treed median.
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MASTERNC

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Re: Whats with thick tree medians on VA Interstates?
« Reply #20 on: July 16, 2016, 09:23:51 PM »

I-70 in Frederick and Washington Counties in Maryland has long sections of wide and treed median.

There is also a large tree lined median on I-95 in New Jersey around Trenton.
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Re: Whats with thick tree medians on VA Interstates?
« Reply #21 on: July 16, 2016, 10:53:46 PM »

Interstate 30 has heavy-wooded medians for much of its length. It's so wide in places that crossing roads require separate overpass bridges for each lane.
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Roadrunner75

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Re: Whats with thick tree medians on VA Interstates?
« Reply #22 on: July 19, 2016, 12:48:52 PM »

There is also a large tree lined median on I-95 in New Jersey around Trenton.
That treed portion of the median was actually supposed to be the interchange for I-95 to continue north along the once proposed Somerset Freeway to I-287.  It's hard to tell now, but I remember the original intent being more obvious at one time with grading and parts of stub ramps.
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Sykotyk

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Re: Whats with thick tree medians on VA Interstates?
« Reply #23 on: July 19, 2016, 10:44:44 PM »

I-79 has it in northern Pennsylvania.
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Re: Whats with thick tree medians on VA Interstates?
« Reply #24 on: August 03, 2016, 08:27:03 AM »

I personally love the Fredericksburg-Richmond ones on I-95.
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