Saturday, November 25, 2017

The Price of Progress

File this under "the price of progress". I've just returned from a trip to Alexandria, Louisiana. I've been seeking out "lost" segments of the old Jefferson Highway and early segments of US 71.
Sticking primarily with US 71, I did stray over to I-49 a couple times.

North of Shreveport, there have been a few "pop-up" gas stations and convenience stores. Nothing special: just a place to get gas or use the restroom. I used to frequent one in Ida called Crossroads Food Mart. 

I noticed the store has closed, probably two or three years ago. It was always a little run down looking, but now it looks ready for the bulldozer.

I did notice a "new" truck stop at I-49 at Mira. Likely two or three years old. Looks nice outside, but the restrooms are already looking beat up. Probably a combination of heavy use and the owner not wanting to spend the money to maintain them.

I guess this is "progress": everything on the old road dies off, but new businesses show up on the new road. It happened when US 66 was replaced, it will likely happen again if/when I-49 gets completed in Arkansas (Casey's General Store is already building a new store at US 71 and Future I-49 south of Fort Smith).

Saturday, November 11, 2017

91 Years

The US Highway System turned 91 today.  US 71, US 66, US 70 and a host of others replaced the Auto Trails such as Jefferson Highway, Ozark, Trail, Lincoln Highway.

The AASHO (American Association of Highway Officials) had actually approved the numbering as far back as March or April 1926, but they system wasn't officially rolled out until November 11.

There have been a lot of changes in 91 years: 66 is gone as is US 666, half of US 80 has been decommissioned, US 425 and US 278 have been added (among others) and many routes have changed alignments.  US 71 used to cross the Atchafalaya River at Melville, Louisiana and continued to Baton Rouge, but was cut back in the 1950's. US 371 went from being a Minnesota Highway (now MN 371) to an Arkansas-Louisiana Highway.