Tuesday, June 29, 2010

Happy Birthday Interstates

On this day, June 29, 1956, President Eisenhower signed the Interstate Highway Act. Inspired by German Autobahns, the Interstate system was designed to ease highway congestion in big cities & small towns and facilitate cross-country travel, though as John Steinbeck wrote in Travels With Charley "it will be possible to drive from New York to California without seeing a single thing.”

Well maybe that's a slight exaggeration. There are still things to see along the interstates: usually the rolling plains or steep mountain overlooks. But certainly no rattlesnake museum or Indian trading posts. 

For all the good interstates have done, their creation was all but a death knell for the scenic Sunday drive, US 66 and many small businesses along the old 2-Lane who were unable to adapt.

I still prefer the old 2-Lane when I have the time, but if I'm in a hurry, I'll take the interstate.

(yes, I know: there is NO I-54 and Interstates never used the square font. Call it creative license ;) )

On Jefferson's Trail

I was exploring some old sections of US 71 in Missouri last week and had a bit of a surprise. I was going around a curve and spied this sign:

My curiosity getting the best of me, I decided to head that direction. Then, I found another sign

I'm guessing "Old Jefferson Road" is the old Jefferson Highway, US 71's predecessor? I've just recently taken an interest in the Jefferson Highway, so I'm still piecing things together. 

It appears to closely parallel US 71 though it shifts and runs through Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas eventually ending up in New Orleans. It's possible there was an auxiliary route that passed through Arkansas, but I'm still looking for information on that. 

I hear the Powers Museum in Carthage, MO is involved in doing some research, so I may have take a couple days and go up to see what they can tell me.

Monday, June 28, 2010

The Coming of MO 126

Well, OK...MO 126 really isn't that new... it's been around for a while. It stretches from Golden City (at US 160) west to the Kansas State Line where it continues as K 126. 126 is mostly a rural road with only a few major junctions (MO 37, US 71, MO 43).

Since last Summer, 126 has been closed at US 71 while the at-grade intersection is converted to a full interchange in preparation for upgrading US 71 to I-49, paid for in part by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act. The proposed completion date of the interchange is sometime this Fall... or WAS.

MoDOT announced today that the US 71/MO 126 Interchange will open June 30.  June 30? GREAT... or maybe not so great. I have to be someplace else that day, so I will likely miss the ribbon cutting. If by some chance I DO make it, I'll be the guy in the US 71 shirt ;)

Railroad Oddity

Just got home from my annual trip to Kansas City (well, OK... it's been a couple days.) I didn't get quite as many photos this time as I'd hoped, but I got a few. I found a section of the old Jefferson Road between Nevada & Rich Hill, MO, an abandoned section of old US 71 (and lost bridge) near there, plus a few other items I'll be posting to my Flickr pages.

The oddest thing I found was a railroad crossing in Belton, MO. Instead of the traditional red signals or simply a crossbuck, this had a yellow strobe light at either end:

I've never seen this before, so I did a little research: the strobes seem to be to warn the trains when there is traffic present (as opposed to signals warning traffic). This is apparently used only at low volume crossings.

There's not a lot of information available on this set-up. So far, I've not found any other examples.

Now, while I was taking my photos, something else caught my eye: a pair of old steam locomotives


These were parked in the rail yard along with a few other cars. Being a Sunday, there really wasn't anyone to ask about the trains, but they appear to simply be on public display. There was an information car, but no one was working. So I guess I'll have to back again sometime. Maybe I can find out more about the yellow strobe lights as well.

Tuesday, June 01, 2010

RIP Poteau River US 271

Just got back yesterday from a weekend in Texas. My camera is broken so I didn't get to take any photos, but I DID take the scenic route coming home. At Eufaula, OK I turned off US 69 and followed OK 9 to Pocola. 

I got a quick glimpse of the road construction along US 59, but didn't stop for photos since I had no camera. 

Just west of Spiro, OK 9 joins US 271 on its trek towards Arkansas. When you near Pocola, there's a beautiful 1940's truss bridge over the Poteau River:

Poteau River Bridge-Overview

or WAS. ODOT has removed the bridge to make way for a UCEB (Ugly Concrete Eyesore Bridge). I'm disappointed. ODOT told me in December of 2008 it would be several years before it was replaced (a new bridge for westbound traffic has just recently been completed), but I guess they found the money somewhere to finish the job.

Bummer. :`(