Saturday, August 21, 2010

New but Not New

Sometimes, I like to get out of the house for a few hours and go for a random drive. When I'm simply out wandering, I find it relaxing as it gets my mind off the troubles of the world. Sometimes, I just go and come home with little to show for it. The other day, I was "rewarded" for taking a drive by discovering a new highway: AR 282S

Actually, it's not all that new. For many years, it was Dollard Road from AR 282 near Mountainburg to the wilds of Crawford County. When AR 540 (I-540's predecessor) was built from Alma to Mountainburg in the 1990's, it became an extension of 540 back to US 71 (partially co-signed with an new alignment of AR 282, bypassing the old Silver Bridge over Frog Bayou). 

After AR 540 became I-540, the half mile section of road became an East-West alignment of AR 282 while the rest continued to be posted as North-South.

However, the most recent change has redesignated this as 282S, though it is only posted westbound (eastbound is posted as TO 282)


Confusing? You bet! But, that's Arkansas: always "improving" things that don't need improving.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

In Search of Old 62

US 62 didn't exist until 1930. In Arkansas, it was posted either as AR 47 or as AR 12. All across the state, there are small sections of county road plus various state routes and business routes that are former alignments of US 62. Many of these I have discovered on my own, a few I have found by looking at old maps.

Two days ago, I found another possible alignment that I had never noticed before. It roughly parallels 62 for about a mile just southeast of US 65 near Bellfonte. Someone sent me a lead on a possible old bridge in the vicinity so I pulled up Google maps to trangulate.

I was looking the county road and noticed it appeared to intersect US 62 in two locations... or did at one time. It appears to have been cut-off at the east end, but the satellite photo seems to show traces of the old roadway.

courtesy Google maps

The blue line shows what I suspect to be old 62. The red line shows the possibly abandoned section. My research tells me there is at least one old bridge on Brack Kimes Rd, plus a possible second one on Huzzah Rd which branches off to the north and west about a third of the way down Kimes Rd.

There is only one way to find out: I have to go there. I've been looking for an excuse to go over that way, so I guess I have one now. :)

Sunday, August 15, 2010

Other Stuff

In addition to my usual road & bridge photos, I've been working on a few things for Landmark Hunter. I was up in Fayetteville last week so I took the opportunity to snag a few photos. 

Washington County Courthouse, built 1905

The Guisinger Building, built 1886

Washington County Jail, built 1896

My first love is roads, but occasionally, something else will catch my attention.

Lost in the Woods

I'm so far behind on posting, it's like I've been lost in the woods. Yet, maybe that's not a bad thing: some of my favorite bridge finds are lost in the woods. I found one back in March north of Pineville, Louisiana.

 

While this looks like just an abandoned road (it's an abandoned section of US 71) it actually "hides" an old bridge over Hudson Creek. When I saw this out of the corner of my eye and knew I had to stop and investigate. I had to walk about 1/4 mile (which seemed longer) to get to this bridge. Needless to say, I was not disappointed by what I discovered.

 

The concrete "fence-rail" design of this bridge was popular in the 1930's and early 1940's. What little information I can find seems to indicate this bridge may have still been in service until the 1960's. As you can see, it's been hit many times by overweight trucks or errant motorists. What really sets this bridge apart from so many others, though, is this end rail:

 Many older bridges in Louisiana and Mississippi have the highway, the bridge name and date imprinted on the end of the bridge. Here you can see "US 71" as well as "Hudson Creek" imprinted in the concrete. I was unable to find the exact date it was built, however, (it's possibly on the other end of the bridge where the end rail is missing) so I'm not sure when this was built, though as I already said, the design seems to say 1930's. 

One other item of note is the west end-rail: 

if you look closely, you can see the remnants of the black & white hazard markings painted on the bridge.

Saturday, August 07, 2010

PULL OVER!

It never ceases to amaze me how many ignorant drivers are out there. I was on I-40 this afternoon and spied an ambulance quickly coming up behind me with its lights on. I pulled over into the right-hand lane, then pulled over to the shoulder. 

Most of the other cars and trucks kept going, causing the ambulance weave around them.

Doesn't anyone know how to pull over and let emergency vehicles pass?

Greenville Bridge Opens

Courtesy of MDOT:

U.S. Highway 82 Mississippi River Bridge near Greenville is now Opened to Traffic

JACKSON, MISS., Wednesday, August 4, 2010---With the U.S. Highway 82 Mississippi River Bridge Dedication Ceremony held last week, motorists will be happy to know that the bridge opened to traffic today, according to Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) officials.

The U.S. Highway 82 Mississippi River Bridge opened to traffic today around 5:30 p.m. The four-lane bridge, which links Mississippi and Arkansas, replaces a narrow 1940 structure 2,800 feet upstream. Each travel lane on the new bridge is 12 feet wide, and the bridge includes 12-foot outside shoulders and 8-foot inside shoulders to enhance safety and traffic flow. The structure connects the Mississippi Delta to Interstate 55 and other four-lane highways such as U.S. Highway 61 and U.S. Highway 65 in Arkansas.

While the bridge has opened to traffic, MDOT urges motorists to be advised that crews will be working on the bridge making last minute improvements. Please slow down and pay close attention to crews, signage and equipment in the area. As always, when approaching a work zone, please reduce your speed.

It's about time! It was supposed to open last week (they even held a ribbon cutting), but as of Friday, it still wasn't open. Near as I can tell, MDOT wanted to repave US 82 up to the edge of the old bridge before the new one opened. 

At least I got some more photos of the old bridge and a few of the new one:




Monday, August 02, 2010

Sad and Ironic

It's a little sad and a bit ironic when a road scholar knows more that the state transportation department.

In trying to find out the history of the Melville Ferry, I contacted the Louisiana Department of Transportation and Development. I explained that I was trying to find out the history since the ferry is on an old alignment of US 71 (and possibly the old Jefferson Trail). The response I received was to the effect of "we think it's over 50 years old, but we don't know anything else".

You mean, what little I know is still more than LADOTD knows? That's so funny in the wrong sort of way.