Monday, December 10, 2007

Only in Louisiana

A van accessible restroom along US 65 in Lake Providence, LA

Thursday, October 04, 2007

The Answer

GR Van from MyLandofMisery correctly guessed the location of the photos as old US 166 west of Sarcoxie, MO. 166 originally ran from Springfield, MO to South Haven, KS. However, in the early to mid 1960's, much of its Missouri alignment (from near Mt Vernon, heading west) was paralleled by Interstate 44, rendering 166 redundant.

If you look closely at the original photos, you can see where 166 was cut off by I-44. The 2 maps scans below show US 166 as it was in 1959 and in 1963. In 1963, I-44 was still under construction in many area, but had already cut-off part of 166.

A few years later, 166 would have its route shortened to just one mile in Missouri.

Much of what was once US 166 still exists and is driveable, but you can't always rely on a highway map to find it. Sometimes, it takes a little "detective work". I found this section almost by accident: I spotted it from I-44 and thought it might be old 166, but I didn't know for sure until I checked some old maps. Sometimes, though, you just have to hit the road and look for it.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Where Am I?

Roadgeeking consists of many things from following a road to see where it leads, finding old bridges , even tracking down old, abandoned roadways. The two photos above are such an example: the road has been abandoned and all but forgotten. BUT, where is it? Ahhhh, I can't say or at least I won't right now. ;)

Some of you may recognize this right away. Some of you have probably seen it, but never knew what it was.

What I am asking is if you know where this is or if you think you know, leave your best guess in the comments or write me directly at us71 at . I am also crossposting this quiz to misc.transport.road on usenet so you can also answer there. Later in the week, I'll post the correct answer and the names of anyone who guessed correctly.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Project Safe and Sound

The Missouri Department of Transportation (MoDOT) has a unique proposal to repair or replace over 800 structurally deficient or hazardous bridges.
Project Safe and Sound requires contractors to repair or replace bridges across the state by 2012 then maintain them for 25 years before turning them over to the state.

A pdf file of the proposal can be found here.

If you scroll down to Page 9, you will see a set of 4 photographs depicting some of Missouri's more structurally deficient bridges.

On the far left is North Fork of the Spring River along State Route 126 in Barton County.
On the far right, is the Spring River along Business Route US 60 west of Verona.

These two bridges are of particular note as the photos featured were taken by me. Unfortunately, MoDOT neglected to contact me for permission or give me credit for the photos. Neither was James Baughn, who hosts the site bridgehunter website (and if you're reading this, Mr Baughn, thanks again for hosting my photos).

I have no problem sharing my photos, but please ask first!

Tuesday, September 04, 2007

Car Care Rip-Off Redux

I never did mention: I finally got my brakes fixed. About a week after the first incident, I took my van to a locally owned auto shop who had the same problem as that name brand place (ie: the computer couldn't diagnose the problem). He suggested I talk to the auto dealer regarding my problem.  

The dealer was able to run a diagnostic and found the problem to be nothing more than a software glitch in the van's computer. Cost? $100 . $100 to reprogram a software glitch... that seems a bit much. Then again, it did provide peace of mind knowing it wasn't a more serious problem.

The brakes themselves? They were fine... no problems at all.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Then and Now on US 24

Thanks to Mark Roberts of for this:

Photos of "then and now" on US 24 at the Colorado-Kansas State Line. The first photo was taken in 1948 eastbound on US 24 crossing into Kansas. The second photo was taken this past July at nearly the same location.

Of course, US 24 doesn't even run along here anymore: it follows Interstate 70 between Burlington, CO and Colby, KS.

But the old road is still there and still driveable... it's just a poorly marked county road these days.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

4 Lane US 71 Opens at Pineville, MO

I spent this afternoon driving the new 4 Lane US 71 at Pineville, Missouri. It's the last section of 4 Lane highway to open between the Arkansas-Missouri State Line and Interstate 44 near Joplin. Traffic at either end of the new roadway was somewhat chaotic as MoDOT tries to tie the new 4 Lane into the previous opened 4l ane sections. I never realized how big a job this section was until I saw the deep roadcuts surrounding the roadway. Both exits: Route H and Route EE are fully open. Just north of EE, northbound 71 traffic shifted into one southbound lane for a about a mile so the new roadway can be properly joined with the already opened section that ended just south of Anderson. An at-grade intersection with Business 71 is being elimated, too (it's already been barricaded & closed to traffic).

Heading south on "new" 71, just past Route H, there is a ramp stub for future Interstate 49. 71 swerves SE at this point and the stub points slightly SW.
Business 71 heading south out of Anderson has been temporarily detoured down the newly completed West Outer Road to Route EE., then follows EE east back to "old 71" before heading south towards Pineville. The southern terminus of Business 71 is currently a dead-end. Approximately a mile south of Pineville the road is closed so it can be realigned to meet "new" 71 at an at-grade crossroad with Wolf Den Rd.

There is plenty of signage going both directions on Bus 71 at Route EE and Route H directing motorists to the new alignment of 71. BUT the old signage has not been removed prompting at least one motorist to become lost just south of Pineville. She thought she was on "mainline" 71 and was heading for Jane. When she encountered the barricades, she became confused and asked me how she was supposed to get to Jane (I had stopped to take photos). I directed her back to Route H, but I didn't follow to see if she found her way or not.

I didn't track "old" 71 north from Brush Creek because Rains Rd (old old 71, the only access to that section now) had been freshly oiled and I didn't want to get it all over my van. However, from what I could see from south of Pineville, that section of "old" 71 will dead-end somewhere north of Brush Creek and will not connect to the new 4 lane.

Progress. US 71 is now a 4 lane divided highway from Fayetteville, AR to Kansas City, MO and points beyond. Its days as a simple 2 lane country highway are all but past.

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Highway Robbery on Route 66 ?

There's a "cut-out" California US66 sign for sale on e-bay for $149. The seller says it's "rare original sign" that has never been used.
Funny thing is, you can buy exact replicas (made to the original specifications) on-line for around $40.
So either the seller doesn't know this or he's hoping to find a buyer who doesn't know.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

I-35W Bridge Collapse in Minnesota

The I-35W bridge over the Mississippi River in Minneapolis, Minnesota has collapsed into the river. As of this writing (9pm CDT) there is one confirmed drowning death. I feel like I should say something, but I don't know what to say. I'm simply in shock. Every time I cross the Arkansas River near Webbers Falls, OK I remember the bridge collapse there 5 years ago. It's always been my greatest fear while driving: having an accident and falling into the river below.

Confusion Reigns

My sister is moving to Fayetteville sometime this month. My folks are planning to meet her this weekend or next to see the house she wants to buy. Since I have a good head for roads, my mom called me asking the best way to Fayetteville from Nixa, MO. Easy: Mo 14 to US 60; West on US 60 to Mo 37; South on Mo 37 to US 62; West on US 62 to AR 94; East on AR 94 to US 71B then straight south on 71B to Fayetteville. Easy enough, no? NO!

My dad calls back the next day and asks how he can go east on 94 when he's going west on 62?
Simple: you're going west on 94, but it's posted as east. Long story. Short version: East 94 used to be West 62. Well, he sort of understood, but was still confused.

Hey, don't blame me... blame AHTD .

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

On the Road Again

I've just returned from yet another road trip. This time, I went to Glory War in Buford, Wyoming. Buford is a wide spot in the road along Interstate 80 about halfway between Cheyenne and Laramie. Population 2, Buford is a jumping off point for the nearby public use areas for camping and hiking. It took me 2 days to get up there and 3 days to get home.

The difference? I took the "scenic route" coming home. I followed the interstates on my to Wyoming, but opted for something different on the way home: the road less taken, you could say,

From Buford, I headed back to Cheyenne on I-80 then drove east through town on US 30, the old Lincoln Highway. East of Cheyenne, US 30 rejoins I-80 and the old Lincoln Highway parallels it most of the way to Pine Bluffs, WY. MOST of the way. The old Lincoln Highway is bisected by the interstate in at least two locations, so it's difficult, if not impossible to follow it all the way. At Pine Bluffs, US 30 leaves the interstate and heads off on its own through the rolling plains of Nebraska.

I followed US 30 for around 120 miles, but diverged from the main road a couple times to take some photos of some bridges I came across on an older alignment.

Eventually, I came to US 138 near Big Springs, Nebraska and opted to turn west. Many road scholars refer to US 138 as an "orphan" highway. As a 3 digit highway, its "parent" route would be US Highway 38, but it no longer exists, having been replaced by US 6 almost 75 years ago. US 138 is a short, primarily 2 lane highway which runs only about 70 miles from US 30 near Big Springs, to US 6 at Sterling, Colorado. Approximately 12 of those miles are in Nebraska before 138 passes into Colorado.

Most of the communities along the highway only have populations of a couple hundred people and look mostly abandoned with an occasional deserted motel or the crumbling husk of an occasional old gas station. The roadway itself looks tired and worn and there wasn't much traffic along it (it parallels Interstate 76 much of its length). Though it had been resurfaced in places, the road looks rather neglected, though there were telltale signs of a possible slurry seal at one time (that stuff that almost looks like a layer of paint on the road), but there were many cracks in the pavement were needing attention. Being a less-travelled roadway, I'm sure it's near the bottom of the highway department's list of priorities.

At a few points along the way, an old dirt county road parallels the highway just the other side of the Union Pacific Railroad tracks. Upon closer examination, part of this county road appears to be an old alignment of the highway. Near Sedgwick, I found an old one-lane concrete bridge that has seen better days. Much of one side of the bridge was badly damaged, possibly by too many farm trucks over the years. I also found a couple wooden bridges along the way that are still in use. The bridge embankments appear to consist of stacked railroad ties secured by wood posts. The bridge railings are also wood, almost always painted white (probably so they can be seen). The bridge decks, though wooden, have often been paved over.

Eventually, I came to Sterling, Colorado population 12,000. For this area of the state, that's quite a few people. As 138 enters town, it becomes a divided highway for approximately 2 miles then becomes a 4 lane street before splitting into 2 segments. westbound traffic follows 4th Street, while eastbound traffic follows 3rd Street. At the intersection of east Chestnut Street (aka US Highway 6), US 138 comes to an end. Like many US Highways, there is no official "End" signage, just another highway intersection .

From Sterling, I headed back east along US 6, crossed Interstate 76 and pointed myself towards Holyoke then turned south on US 385 towards Interstate 70 at Burlington then followed the interstates back home.

Yes, I went out of my way to follow US 138. I could have easily remained on Lincoln Highway past Grand Island, Nebraska then headed south on US 81 towards Salina, Kansas and Wichita, but everyone wants to travel Lincoln Highway or Route 66 or the National Road. I do too, but there are so many other roads to travel and so many other places to see as well. Someday, I will travel these roads (not to mention US 71 to Canada). This time, I opted a little known, long forgotten highway in the wilds of Nebraska and Colorado.

Thursday, June 21, 2007

Mistaken Identity II

Yes, yes I know: I'm not posting as regularly as I promised. But I have an excuse: I've been on the road a lot lately. I'm working for myself full-time as an SCA merchant so I'm gone fairly often. The upside is I have many more opportunities for roadside photgraphy and roadside observations.

One of my favorite photo subjects is sign errors. Here's an example I just found last weekend near Kansas City, Missouri. Can you spot the obvious difference between the first and second signs for Route 269?

The difference? The first sign shows the highway as US 269 while the second shows it as MO 269. Of course, I'm sure this is something only a "road scholar" would notice ;) .
For trivia buffs, MO 269 is actually an older alignment of US 69 and there is no such highway as US 269 anywhere.

Friday, May 11, 2007

Mistaken Identity

WAPT-TV in Jackson, MS reports the following:
An 18-wheeler crash on the northbound Interstate 49 flyover bridge tied up traffic for about four hours Thursday morning.
Drivers were redirected to eastbound Interstate 20, then onto
Interstate 55 or Highway 80.

Luckily, the driver wasn't hurt, though the guardrail was damaged.
But wait a minute: Interstate 49 in Mississippi? No such thing. I-49 runs from Shreveport, LA to near Lafayette. Surely they must mean US 49 ?? US 49 runs from Gulfport, MS to Piggot, AR. Of course, the difference is probably something only a Road Scholar would notice. ;)

Sunday, April 08, 2007

Still More Photos

If you're a fan of roadside photography, some more of my roadside photos have been posted to Mark Roberts' cosmos-monitor web site including this sign assembly in Stilwell, Oklahoma. So what's wrong? US 51 doesn't go into Oklahoma. It's supposed to be Oklahoma Highway 51.
Also featured are several signs spotted on my recent trip to Louisiana & Mississippi as well as a few miscellaneous Arkansas photos. Click here for a complete list of updates.

Friday, April 06, 2007

Flashing Yellow Arrives

Flashing Yellow Left Turn Signals have arrived in Fort Smith. The first of what will be several signals has been installed at the intersection of Rogers Ave (AR 22) and Old Greenwood Rd.
For those unfamilar with the Flashing Left Arrow, it is intended to warn motorists that a left turn is permissable but not protected. The Federal Highway Administration has determined this signal is safer than the traditional Left Green Arrow, Left Yellow Arrow and Steady Green.
A Steady Green arrow means a protected left turn. The signal then changes to a Steady Yellow Arrow before changing to a Flashing Yellow Arrow (Left Turn permitted, yield to oncoming traffic).
So, don't be surprised if you start to see more of these signals.
The Fort Smith Southwest Times Record published a story on this on April 16th.

Sunday, April 01, 2007

More Photos

A new, limited selection of my photos have been posted to Mark Roberts' website. A complete listing of updates can be found here.

Coming soon: bridge photos from Louisiana and Mississippi on .

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Louisiana Road Trip

I've just returned from a 12 day trip to Mississippi and Louisiana. My main reason for going was Gulf Wars, an SCA event. However, after the event, I spent a couple days travelling the back highways of Mississippi and Louisiana in search of more bridges and other roadside attractions to photograph.

One of the high points of my trip was an opportunity to trace part of the original alignment of US 71 in Louisiana. US 71 currently ends at US 190 near Krotz Springs, but it originally extended all the way to Baton Rouge. The original Mississippi River crossing between Port Allen and Baton Rouge no longer exists... the ferry was replaced in 1968 by the Interstate 10 bridge.

I picked up the trail again on US 190 near Livonia (I skipped the Livonia-Port Allen alignment since I had started late) and headed north and west on LA 77. A few miles past Fordouche, I turned west on LA 10... or what I *thought* was LA 10. There was a guide sign pointing to this non-descript dirt road that had no other signage on it, save for a stop sign for approaching traffic. My curiousity getting the better of me, I decided to follow it anyway. About 2 miles down the road, I came to a 3-way intersection, again unmarked. The segment to the west had a sign pointing the way to the Melville Ferry so I figured this was the way to go. Another couple miles, I came to LA 417. 417 went north on a paved road (though it dead-ends a few miles away) while a sign indicated 10 turned south (again becoming a dirt road). A mile down the road, I came to the Melville Ferry at the Atchafalaya River, but the ferry was closed. It only operates in the early morning and late afternoon.

It wasn't a total waste of time, though, as I found a long truss bridge over the river along the Missouri-Pacific Railroad. I turned around and returned to US 190 crossing the Atchafalaya River on it (and finding a pair of truss bridges as well). At Krotz Springs, I turned north on LA 105 towards Melville and eventually came to LA 10 (paved!). I headed east on 10 approximately a mile until I reached the other end of the ferry crossing... sure enough, the crew was still "out to lunch". Turning around, I headed west on LA 10 towards Lebeau where the road intersects the modern-day alignment of US 71 approximately 16 miles north of Krotz Springs.

Turning north on US 71, I pointed myself towards Alexandria. I missed a couple short possible old alignments that I didn't catch until it was too late. One was LA 1177 near Bunkie and another was LA 456 between Meeker and Lecompte. I had spent so much time researching the Lebeau-Baton Rouge alignment I missed a couple other relatively short sections, so I'll just have to go back again someday ;)

I saw no indications along either section of LA 10 or along LA 77 that either of these roads may have originally been part of US 71... all I have to go by is the old maps with which I spent hours painstakingly trying to locate the old highway. Still, it was an interesting drive, though not something I'd want to do everyday, but it was definitely worth checking out.

Thursday, March 08, 2007

Car Care Rip Off

Yesterday, I took my van to Meineke Car Care in Fort Smith because of the ABS warning light was lit on my dashboard . I'm heading out of town in a few days so I decided it was best to get things looked at. I agreed to a $50 fee to hook up my van to a diagnotic machine, but the machine didn't work. One of the mechanics then accused me in front of another customer of rigging something in my van so their machine didn't work. So the mechanics had to manually locate the problem and identified it as bad brake cylinders on the rear wheels.

Well, $127 later the ABS light is still on and the brakes don't feel any better than they were before I brought it in. Did I really need new cylinders or was this just a convenient way to make a fast buck off me? At least they waived the $50 diagnostic fee since their machine didn't work.

Since then, my van has developed a new problem: it makes groaning noises everytime I make a sharp turn. I brought it back to the shop immediately, but was told it wasn't related to the brake work. I was told that maybe it was the power steering so they topped off the power steering fluid. But that didn't fix the problem.

So not only did Meineke not fix my original problem, but it looks like something else may have got messed up in the process.

I contacted their (so called) Customer Service Department and received the following response:

Thank you for contacting us with your concerns. At Meineke our goal is to provide all customers with quality parts and professional service at a reasonable cost. We are truly sorry to learn that our service did not meet your expectations.

As Meineke is a franchise system made up of individual business owners we will forward a copy of your correspondence to the owner of the shop involved for immediate attention.

We apologize for any problems you experienced with Meineke and hope this matter is resolved quickly.

Thank you again for writing,

Customer Relations

Translation: It's not OUR problem. Talk to the local shop.

Monday, March 05, 2007

New Photos

A large selection of my road photos dating as far back as 2004 are now posted on Mark Robert's Missouri Highway's site. Highlights include numerous button copy signs, an old yellow stop sign, and a lit-up Red Signal Ahead sign north of Springfield, MO. There are also some photos taken this last December along MO 249 near Joplin.

There is also a special page devoted to the Y Bridge at Galena, Missouri.

A complete listing of new photos can be found here. There are also contributor's lists showing who has donated photos to the site for the US Highway pages and Missouri Highway Pages. Oh, and that's no mistake... there is a David (or Dave) Backlin out there. He lives near Branson, MO. No relation, as far as I know ;)

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Gifts for Roadgeeks

Yes, I know: I promised to post more often. Truth is, since I've been gimped up, I haven't done much travelling. I did go to visit my folks in Missouri for Christmas, which was about a 4 hour drive, not including "detours". I got a few photos, but not very many. Mostly along Missouri 249: a couple sign errors and some shots of current road construction. I snagged a couple other pics as well, which can be seen at Mark Robert's site or GR Van's site .
Hopefully, my ankle will be healed enough by the end of this month that I can start going out more often. My first stop will be the Poteau River Bridge where I had my accident so I can complete my task of taking photos. Lest anyone think I'm asking for trouble returning to the scene, I'll be taking along a new toy: a couple of my SCA friends (that's Society for Creative Anachronism in case you didn't know) gave me a Swissgear Hiking Pole for Christmas (that's it on the left). So now I'm ready to take on those tricky bridge embankments that caused me so much trouble... or at least I will be once I'm free of this walking boot. ;)