U.S. 52

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U.S. 52 shadows Interstate 77 throughout its 82-mile course across western Virginia. The route serves local traffic from North Carolina to Fort Chiswell through the Carroll County seat of Hillsville and Fancy Gap among other communities. The original overlap with U.S. 11 along Lee Highway was replaced by Interstates 77 and 81 between Fort Chiswell and Wytheville, leading both highways to follow the freeway.

An overlap with U.S. 11 through Wytheville was eliminated in favor of continuing U.S. 52 along Interstate 81 to bypass the city. North from Crowgeys, U.S. 52 follows a mountainous route to Bland and Rocky Gap before combining with I-77 through the East River Mountain Tunnel into Bluefield, West Virginia. This stretch was also U.S. 21 until its truncation to Wytheville in 1979.

Interstate 77 U.S. 52 South
Interstate 77 enters Virginia midway through the East River Mountain Tunnel east of Bluefield. The four lane tunnel consists of two 5400 foot long tubes opened to traffic in 1974. Work took five years to complete at a cost of $40 million. More info can be found at the FHWA web site. 10/02/10
U.S. 52 utilizes the East River Tunnel between Exit 1 in West Virginia and Exit 66 in Virginia. SR 598 (East River Mountain Road) meanders across East River Mountain to the west as the old alignment of both U.S. 21 and 52 into Bluefield. U.S. 52 south otherwise rejoins its two-lane alignment along Scenic Highway south to Rocky Gap. 10/02/10
U.S. 52 south
Entering Crowgeys, U.S. 52 (North 4th Street) meets SR 661 (Fairview Road). SR 661 leads north to Haven and SR 659 at Queens Knob. 07/16/05
U.S. 52 (North 4th Street) south at SR 661 (Fairview Road) north. SR 661 travels a circuitous route west to Fairview and Kegleys, ending at SR 600. 07/16/05
Continuing south from Crowgeys, U.S. 52 enters a diamond interchange with Interstate 81 (Exit 70). 07/16/05
Interstate 81 joins Wytheville with Bristol and Knoxville, Tennessee to the south. 07/16/05
The interchange between U.S. 52 and Interstate 81 doubles as the southbound beginning of U.S. 21. 07/16/05
U.S. 52 joins Interstate 81 north for ten miles to bypass Wytheville. 07/16/05
U.S. 21 continues along North 4th Street to merge with U.S. 11 (West Main Street) in downtown Wytheville. U.S. 52 used to follow this alignment as well, but was moved onto the freeway in 1986. 07/16/05
Interstate 81 North U.S. 52 South
U.S. 52 bypasses Wytheville with Interstate 81 north for ten miles to Fort Chiswell. The highway originally overlapped with U.S. 11 through the city. 07/16/05
Interstate 81 north & U.S. 52 south head east to their merge with Interstate 77 northeast of Wytheville. This set of overheads direct motorists bound for Charlotte to stay on Interstate 81 to Exit 81 as Interstate 77 merges with I-81 to Fort Chiswell. Interstate 77 north otherwise continues to Bluefield, West Virginia. 07/16/05
Exit 72 departs in one mile for Interstate 77 north to Bland, Bluefield, Beckley, and Charleston, West Virginia. 07/16/05
One half mile west of the Exit 72 trumpet interchange with Interstate 77 north on Interstate 81 & U.S. 52 south. 07/16/05
Interstate 77 opened to traffic between Wytheville and Bland by 1972. Travelers headed north to Bluefield must travel through two tunnels, one at Big Walker Mountain and another at East River Mountain Tunnel at the state line. 07/16/05
Interstate 77 U.S. 52 South Interstate 81 North
Shortly after combining, Interstate 81 & U.S. 52 north and Interstate 77 south enter a trumpet interchange with U.S. 11 (Main Street) in Wytheville. U.S. 11 leads west to Wytheville Community College and downtown from Exit 73. 10/02/10
2 photos
2 photos
Exit 73 departs Interstates 77-81 & U.S. 52 east beyond the Lithia Road overpass onto U.S. 11 (East Main Street) south. U.S. 11 north joins the trio east; its original alignment parallels the freeway as a frontage roads (Nye Road). 06/17/05, 10/02/10
Interstate 77 U.S. 52 South Interstate 81 U.S. 11 North
I-81/U.S. 52 north and I- 77/U.S. 11 south form a wrong-way overlap. The eight mile stretch between Wytheville and Fort Chiswell primarily follows an east-west course. The first shield assembly for all four appears at a Norfolk Southern Railroad under pass east of Exit 73. 06/17/05
Interstate 81 & U.S. 11 north travel together to Exit 89 south of Pulaski. Interstate 77 ventures south to Statesville and Charlotte, North Carolina. U.S. 52 mirrors the corridor to near Mount Airy, North Carolina. 10/02/10
Crossing Reed Creek along Interstate 77-U.S. 52 south & Interstate 81-U.S. 11 north. Original U.S. 11 (Lee Highway) travels along the north side of the freeway; Chapman Road continues as the south side service road. 06/17/05
Exit 77 provides access to old U.S. 11 & 52 (Lee Highway) and Chapman Road via a diamond interchange. 10/02/10
2 photos
2 photos
A number of travelers services can be found on the adjacent frontage roads at Exit 77. Lee Highway and Chapman Road continue alongside Interstates 77-81 and U.S. 11-52 to Fort Chiswell Road (Exit 80). 06/17/05, 10/02/10
Six lanes of freeway continue between Exits 77 and 80. The second and final set of reassurance shields for Interstates 77-81 & U.S. 11-52 follow the on-ramp from Ready Mix Road (the connector between the service roads). 06/17/05
Interstate 77 south will split from Interstate 81 & U.S. 11 north in three miles at Exit 80. The corridor is scenic on its southward path toward North Carolina. 10/02/10
U.S. 52 leaves the overlap first, following Fort Chiswell Road southward from the Exit 80 diamond interchange with SR 121 north to Poplar Camp. SR 121 begins and travels 1.83 miles north to Max Meadows. 10/02/10
Exit 80 leaves I-77/81 & U.S. 11 for U.S. 52 (Fort Chiswell Road) south and SR 121 (Max Meadows Road) north into Fort Chiswell. The numbering of SR 121 alludes to the original route of U.S. 121 between Fort Chiswell and Lexington, North Carolina. The U.S. route was vastly absorbed by U.S. 52 in 1935.2 10/02/10
Ascending along U.S. 52 east at Exit 80 to its turn onto Fort Chiswell Road south. U.S. 52 parallels Interstate 77 closely through Poplar Camp, Hillsville, Fancy Gap, and Cana before entering N.C. 07/16/05
Interstate 77 U.S. 52 North Interstate 81 U.S. 11 South
The four-way overlap of Interstate 77 north & 81 south and U.S. 11 & 52 involves two north and southbound components traveling in the same direction (U.S. 11 south & U.S. 52 north). 10/02/10
Westbound mileage sign posted eight miles out from Wytheville and the split of all routes. Bluefield lies 37 miles to the north across the West Virginia state line via Interstate 77 and U.S. 52. Bristol is 76 miles to the southwest via Interstate 81 and U.S. 11. 10/02/10
One mile east of Exit 77 with Ready Mix Road. The diamond interchange provides access to old U.S. 11 & 52 (Lee Highway) and Chapman Road. 10/02/10
A number of travelers services can be found on the adjacent frontage roads at Exit 77. Original U.S. 11 (Lee Highway) travels along the north side of the freeway; Chapman Road continues as the south side service road. 10/02/10
Reassurance shield assembly posted for Interstates 77-81 and U.S. 11-52 north after Exit 77. The freeway travels a wide valley between Lick Mountain and Brushy Ridge. 10/02/10
U.S. 11 southbound departs Interstate 77 & U.S. 52 north and Interstate 81 southbound at the Exit 73 trumpet interchange in one mile. 10/02/10
Interstate 77 leaves Interstate 81 & U.S. 52 immediately after the split with U.S. 11 south at Main Street in Wytheville. A diagrammatic overhead indicates two lanes of travel are available for each Interstate at Exit 72. 10/02/10
Nye Road appears along the north side of Interstates 77-81 on the half mile approach to Exit 73. U.S. 11 rejoins its former alignment along Main Street through downtown Wytheville. 10/02/10
Main Street comprises a commercial arterial to the Wytheville street grid outside downtown. Within downtown, U.S. 11 shares a four block overlap with U.S. 21 before exiting via Lee Highway along Pine Ridge. 10/02/10
Interstate 77 U.S. 52 North Interstate 81 South
One mile southeast of the Exit 72 split of Interstates 77 north and 81 south. Interstate 81 follows a northerly arc to bypass Wytheville as Interstate 77 winds northward across Cove Mountain to Walker Mountain Tunnel on the 27 mile trek to West Virginia. 10/02/10
New guide signs for Exit 72 include the capital city of Charleston for Interstate 77 north. Interstate 77 continues its 610-mile route north from Wytheville to Parkersburg, Canton, Akron and Cleveland. Interstate 81 continues along the Appalachian Mountains, with the Tri-Cities of Tennessee remaining along the 855-mile route. 10/02/10
The final shield assembly for the 8.80-mile overlap of Interstates 77 north & 81 south. 10/02/10
Interstate 77 & U.S. 52 northbound and Interstate 81 southbound expand to four lanes at the Exit 72 split. The western end of the overlap is handled by a trumpet interchange. 10/02/10
Interstate 81 South U.S. 52 North
U.S. 52 continues another two miles on Interstate 81 to Exit 70. There the US highway departs for 4th Street and its original alignment. 10/02/10
Entering the Exit 70 diamond interchange with 4th Street on Interstate 81 south. U.S. 21 begins and follows 4th Street into downtown Wytheville, merging with U.S. 11 (Main Street) briefly. U.S. 52 continues 4th Street west to Crowgeys.
U.S. 21 traveled to Cleveland until 1980, but was truncated due to its close proximity to Interstate 77 from Wytheville northward. 10/02/10
U.S. 52 North
U.S. 52 continues away from Wytheville and Interstate 81 on a 20-mile drive to Bland. U.S. 21 used to continue north with U.S. 52. 07/16/05
Interstate 77 U.S. 52 North
Interstate 77 & U.S. 52 northbound at the Exit 66 under crossing of SR 598. The East River Mountain Tunnel lies ahead. 10/05/01
The second of two Interstate 77 tunnels, the East River Mountain Tunnel lies along the Virginia and West Virginia state border. 09/29/10
Entering the northbound bore of the East River Mountain Tunnel of Interstate 77 & U.S. 52. U.S. 52 departs the freeway via Cumberland Road (Exit 1) at the north end of the tunnel. 10/05/01
Interstate 77 & U.S. 52 north enter West Virginia near the center of the 5,412 foot long East River Mountain Tunnel. 09/29/10
U.S. 52 scenes
2 photos
2 photos
Ridge Road (SR 656) meanders northward from U.S. 11 at Petunia to U.S. 52 outside Wytheville (Stony Fork Road). A set of cutouts remains in place at the rural intersection west of Crowgeys.
U.S. 21 used to overlap along this stretch of roadway as well. 09/29/10

Sources:
  1. US 21 and branches @ Virginia Highways Project.


Photo Credits:

  • 10/05/01 by AARoads.
  • 06/17/05 by AARoads.
  • 07/16/05 by AARoads.
  • 09/29/10 by AARoads and Carter Buchanan.
  • 10/02/10 by AARoads and Carter Buchanan.

Connect with:
U.S. 11
U.S. 21
Interstate 77
Interstate 81

Page Updated 02-14-2013.

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