Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Mixed Signals

I've just returned from 10 days up in Kansas City (or more properly Smithville, Missouri) for the annual SCA Lilies War. It was HOT! At least 3 days of triple-digit temps. Needless to say, I roasted.
Of course, I can never take a trip without exploring the area. One of my main stops was Harrisonville to check out the new "Diverging Diamond" interchange at MO 291 and I-49. No big surprises, except people haven't learned to drive it yet. I took a few photos then started to wander back to my van when something caught my eye: there were new signals at 291 and Commerical St, but they didn't look right.

Red-Green-Yellow-Yellow Arrow-Green Arrow. Isn't that supposed to be Red-Yellow-Green-Yellow Arrow-Green Arrow?

Something isn't right here.The sequence is correct, but the Yellow and Green are in the wrong places. They didn't do it once, but twice. WTF? Either MoDOT is trying to psych-out drivers, or their contractor royally screwed up and no one caught it. 

I decided to contact MoDOT and received the following response:

Thank you for notifying us of the discrepancy in the signal head layout at 291 & Commercial Street in Harrisonville, MO.
This is a new signal set up at the intersection. 
Our project manager has notified the contractor and the signal head configuration will be corrected by 06/23/16.

We appreciate your assistance with noticing this discrepancy and very much appreciate that you took the time to notify MoDOT.

So I guess it WAS a contractor error, which leaves me with two questions: (1) What was the contractor thinking (2) Why didn't someone catch this before now?

When I said I wanted to make a difference in the world, I never imagined it would be calling out highway departments for stupid stuff.

Thursday, May 26, 2016

An Extra Nickel (or 3)

AASHTO has announced that AHTD will be allowed to extend I-555 from its current terminus at US 49 in Jonesboro, to AR 91 on the northeast side. Why this wasn't done in the first place, is beyond me (probably bureaucratic red tape). 

I explored 555 a few weeks ago, but haven't had time to post anything here. Hopefully, I'll find time next week, when my schedule slows down a little.

Friday, April 08, 2016

I Have Sinned

An error that has stood for over 10 years may be going away soon;
Oklahoma Highway 20 shares a roadway with Arkansas Highway 43 from just north of Maysville, Arkansas to SouthWest City, Missouri where it becomes Missouri Highway 43.

For whatever reason, the Oklahoma Department of Transportation is responsible for signing the road. North AR 43/East OK 20 is posted as East 20/North MO 43, while the opposite direction is West OK 20/ South AR 43.  I can sort of see the logic behind that, though it seems silly.

To make matters more confusing, the signage where 43 meets 20 at the OK/AR State Line shows AR 43 heading north along East 20, but MO 43 heading south.  In otherwords, the 43 shields have been reversed. I never gave it much thought in the past and figured ODOT would eventually correct things. 

On a recent trip along Hwy 43, I checked the sign assembly and noticed it hadn't changed. Ten years and the error remains, so I finally decided to contact ODOT who said they will have a sign maintenance crew check it out, 

So I have, very likely, commiteed a sin against the road enthusiast community by bringing this error to ODOT's attention. I'm sure the average motorist has probably never noticed and now I've ruined everything.


Thursday, March 10, 2016

And It's Official!

I-555  is now official (or will be in less then 24 hours). I received a Tweet (yeah I'm on Twitter now) that the dedication ceremony for 555 (formerly US 63) will be Friday from 11-1 in Jonesboro. Great! Let's go...or not.
Sadly, the weather is looking dicey: lots of rain, lots of potential flooding (Southeast Arkansas and Northern Louisiana are already having problems) so it's probably better if I stay home.
On the plus side, I don't have to hear all the politicians talking about how great they are. On the minus side, I'll miss some cool photo opportunities &/or goodie bags.

If i'd had more than 24 hours notice, I could likely have worked something out, but the timing is just too close. No real time to plan.

Maybe next week I can go get some photos. There are also several bridges I want to look for, so I'll take my lumps for now and try again when the weather is better.

If, by chance, someone makes it up there, save me a goodie bag? ;-) 

Looking at the photos from the dedication, it appears it was a private luncheon/dedication: lots of police officers, local and area talking heads politicians, etc. So being a part-time blogger probably wouldn't have got me in the door. I did make it up there about a week later. I'll post on that later.

Monday, February 29, 2016

I'm FAT!

I've always been a little bit on the big side, but now I'm about 45 lbs over where I should be. When the weather is good, I go for a walk at the city park or the nature center. Yet, it feels like "work" and it's hard to maintain a decent pace.
Yet, I exert just as much, if not more, energy on my bridge excusions and I never considered them work, per se. I'm working (walk across old bridges, climbing down embankments, etc), but it doesn't feel like work. It feels like fun (unless I break my ankle like I did 5 years ago). 
So I guess the secret to losing weight is to chase more bridges and climb down more embankments?


Monday, February 22, 2016


The last dirt highway in Arkansas has been ruined! AHTD has decided to pave AR 220 between Lee Creek and Devils Den State Park. Devils Den has always been secluded and can be a little tricky to get to at times (winding, steep roadways with limited shoulders).

Well AHTD has decided 220 would make a nifty south entrance to the park, if it were only paved. So, construction has been underway for 6-8 months to widen the road to two lanes and pave it. 
Sadly, the scenic beauty of this roadway is being ruined: trees bulldozed, hillsides carved up to level the terrain, even an old rock culvert that's being replaced by a new bridge.

I've been out there twice in the last few months and it, quite simply depresses me. 220 has never been a road for the timid: barely a lane and a half wide, it's lumpy and bouncy with "OMG I'm gonna die" curves, but one heck a view of the valley in places. It's a slow drive, but sometimes you could catch a deer crossing the road.

But all that will soon be gone in the name of "progress". 

One small bright spot, however, is this cool knife I found in the middle of the road:

It's based on a Kukri , which is an Indian machete. Given how scratched up it looks, it had likely been sitting in the road for quite a while, lost by someone and buried under years of dirt and gravel, only to be uncovered during road construction.
I haven't decided what to do with it yet, but will probably have it sharpened and kept by my bed (provided I don't cut myself with it ;) )

I'll miss the old you, 220, but thank's for the souvenir. 

Thursday, February 04, 2016

Got to be a Record

Last weekend, I attended an SCA gathering in Tulsa. It's only about 2 1/2 hours for me if I take the turnpike, but what's the fun in that? I did take I-40 to Warner, then headed north on US 64. I never noticed before how many abandoned concrete culverts there are paralleling the highway: there's abandoned railroad right-of-way from Tulsa to south of Warner. I need to photograph some of them eventually.I was ahead of schedule, so checked out part of old US 64 through Muskogee. In addition to an old Texas-Pacific Railroad bridge, I found a nice concrete bridge over Coody Creek, about a mile north. Not bad for hardly trying ;)

Sunday was a different story: I left Tulsa heading west on old Hwy 66 to look for more bridges. I found the first one rather quickly, then an arch railroad bridge next to it. I wandered into Sapulpa and found two refurbished service stations (a Gulf and a Barnsdall). Heading west out of town, I found 2 more bridges on another old alignment of 66.

From Sapulpa, I headed down old US 75 towards Okmulgee and found 6 (I think) more bridges. Eventually, I found myself back in Muskogee chasing down a bridge I had forgotten to look for when I passed through on Friday.

A 2 1/2 hour drive took me 8 hours.Total number of bridges: 14. I think that's a record for one weekend. I'm still sorting photos, so it will likely be a day or two before I have them posted.

Right place, right time, I guess.