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Author Topic: Wakefield MA to Altoona PA  (Read 455 times)

roadman

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Wakefield MA to Altoona PA
« on: September 04, 2017, 07:38:04 AM »

So, Sunday (9-3), I embarked on my long-awaited vacation to Altoona for a week of R&R (rest and railfanning).  Here's some highlights of my drive.

Even though the weather was marginal (rain showers with occasional heavy downpours), I decided to detour down to I-287 and cross the new Tappan Zee bridge.  Not sure if it was the weather, which had mostly cleared to cloudy but bright skies with a light drizzle as I crossed the span, but I was sufficiently underwhelmed as I drove across the span.  I also noted that the gantries for the changeable message signs appeared to be horribly oversized, and that the legends on the signs themselves were undersized (some signs were displaying a "NO TRUCKS OR TRAILERS LEFT LANE" message in black on white, while others were displaying "MOTORCYCLES UNEVEN LANES" messages in black on yellow.

Other notes from my trip:

On the MassPike, a new Attractions sign background panel (but no logos yet) has just been installed westbound prior to I-290/I-395 (Exit 10) in Auburn.  Legend reads "Attractions Exit 10" with "Use I-290 East" beneath the space for the logos.  AFAIK, this sign was NOT part of the West Stockbridge to Auburn project, but is a separate installation.  It's also interesting, as MassDOT policy does not allow for posting services or attractions signs for freeway to freeway connections.  Yes, there are HCR signs at some Pike exits that are freeway to freeway connections, but those were installed by the Turnpike Authority well before MassDOT took over.

At Exit 9, the connecting ramp from I-90 west to I-84 west is currently scarified for an eventual resurfacing - not fun to navigate in a downpour.

On I-84 west at the start of the Restricted Lane into Hartford, the pull through sign over the general lanes STILL has the lower left corner broken off and the damaged down arrow replaced with an arrow above the damaged area.  While ConnDOT used a button copy arrow to effect the repair, the arrow is not in line with the others.  Also, I first noticed this sign on a similar trip over ten years ago.

For the relatively short time I was in NY State, I saw way too many of their "attractions" sign assemblies - what a huge waste.  NYSDOT's CMS safety message for this weekend is "DON'T DRINK AND DRIVE  IT'S THE LAW" - overdisplayed and showing a total lack of imagination.

NYSTA Clearview installations, as evidenced by the signs for the Palisades Parkway exits, prompted me to cry out "Icky, Sicky, Yuk!"  Speaking as one who does not like Clearview in general, I have to admit that, by contrast (no pun intended), PennDOT's installations are far more professional looking than NYSTA's are.

NYSDOT seems to love cryptic abbreviations on their portable CMS signs, such as TZB (for Tappan Zee Bridge) and PIP (Palisades Interstate Parkway)

I-287 between NY/NJ line and I-80 was a nice mix of recent demountable copy signs and older button copy signs.

I-80 west had Rest Area signs with banners reading "NO FACILITIES".  However, the banners look like they were mounted to the signs when they were originally fabricated.  Which raises a question - if a "rest area" doesn't have facilities, is it really a rest area?  There was also a Truck Rest Area that stated on the advance signs not only "NO FACILITIES" but "VEHICLES UNDER 5 TONS EXCLUDED".  Apart from the Truck Turnout on I-95/128 southbound in Needham (which does not have s similar 'under 5 tons' prohibition), it's the first time I've ever seen that setup.

Express EZ-Pass lane on the I-80 bridge between NJ and PA had acknowledgement strobe when you passed under the gantry - IMO that should be standard for all AET installations.

Now, into PA on I-80 means - yes - WORK ZONES along the highway that has been perpetually under construction since I began driving it in 1980.  Encountered three separate, and long, ones between PA line and Williamsport  Advance signing was generally very good, and "MAJOR ALERT" flashers on HAR signs activated.  Although we never came to a full halt, I especially liked the "EXPECT STOPPED TRAFFIC  WATCH YOUR SPEED" message on the portable signs prior to the single lane zone between Lake Harmony and Hazleton.  One of the permanent CMS signs east of the Lake Harmony work zone was alternating between travel time to I-476 and warning to the work zone.  To me this mixing of messages was potentially confusing, as it took me a moment to realize the work zone was on I-80 and not I-496.

Encountered another work zone on I-99 between Bald Eagle and Bellwood - less traffic than on I-80.

Overall, 8 1/2 hours from Wakefield to Altoona.

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"And ninety-five is the route you were on.  It was not the speed limit sign."  - Jim Croce (from Speedball Tucker)

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Conn. Roads

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Re: Wakefield MA to Altoona PA
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2017, 04:43:36 AM »

Too bad rail fanning isn’t what it used to be in MA. I’m a huge B&M fan, and you’re on the Western Route, Portland Division. My intention is to do a trip out to Ayer soon. I can fan Guilford, but some friends and family live nearby.
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