The View From Wisconsin

Just a random set of rants from a Sports Fan from Wisconsin.

Sunday, May 14, 2006


(In my haste to get everyting in here, I failed to mention another source: The Interstate Guide at Now - on with the countdown. The "oddities" are listed in only a general order, but the last 10 are definitely the oddest of the odd - at least in my book.)

21. Interstate 180, Cheyenne, WY. In the 1970's, state officials in Cheyenne wanted to have the capital city served by an interstate highway spur. There was only one problem: the section of highway that would be most logical to have such a spur was already in a built-up area of the city, and officials didn't want to demolish or bypass existing businesses in order to create interchanges. Thus, the city took the funding and simply built two bridges – one over the Union Pacific rail yards, and the other a viaduct over Crow Creek. The Interstate designation was allowed by AASHTO, despite the sub-standard roadway type, since the monies had already been approved for the designation. I-180, which follows US 85, Business I-25 and Business US 87 to Lincolnway, just south of downtown Cheyenne, opened to traffic in 1984. The "interstate" has four stoplights, including its terminus at Lincolnway.
22. Interstate 86 (Idaho and Pennsylvania to New York). For most of the 1980's and 1990's, the only I-86 was the one that ran from Pocatello and I-15 to I-84 in Idaho – the former 63-mile stretch of I-15W. When the section of I-80N from Hartford, CN to the Massachusetts Turnpike was first renumbered, it carried the I-86 designation until it was changed to I-84. In 1999, the New York state route 17 was converted to Interstate I-86 from just outside of Erie, PA to East Corning, NY. The rest of the route, heading east to I-87 and the New York State Thruway, is currently signed "FUTURE 86". The section is not yet completely Interstate standard, as it contains some at-grade intersections in the Horseheads, NY area.
23. Interstate 390, western New York. The New York State Thruway bypasses the lakeshore city of Rochester to the south, so a spur highway was built to connect the Thruway with the city. Originally, NY 47 was a southern bypass around the city, extending from Gates Center on the west to Brighton and east Rochester. The part of the I-390 spur from the Thruway would create an "Outer Loop" connecting the "Inner Loop" (Interstate 490, which was a bypass into the city of Rochester and to an even smaller, two-mile loop in the downtown). However, the routing was not taken well by locals, and the freeway was instead routed to the west to Gates Center. I-390 continues north as NY 390 to the Lake Ontario State Parkway. The southern leg of I-390 was a bypass of old US 15 between the Thruway and Avoca, NY. The 76-mile "spur" connects with I-86 and the Southern Tier Expressway south of Avoca. The freeway is part of a future I-99 corridor, extending south all the way into Pennsylvania.
24. Interstate 238, San Leandro, CA. This freeway is a connector between I-580 (the MacArthur Freeway) and I-880 (the Nimitz Freeway), on the east side of San Francisco Bay. The connector is an extension of the Arthur Breed Freeway, which connects the San Leandro/Oakland area with I-5. CA 238 heads south from the eastern end of I-238 down Mission Boulevard into Freemont, CA – hence the reason for the name of the freeway. However, the section is actually misnumbered, as the I-38 corridor would be somewhere closer to Los Angeles than San Francisco – if there were an Interstate 38. I-238 is the only bypass/spur Interstate without a parent. The state of California chose the 238 designation in 1983 because they had already used up their three-digit Interstate designations for I-80 in the state. It is possible that the stretch could be renumbered I-480, now that the Embarcadero Freeway has been torn down in downtown San Francisco. However, the negative feelings of Bay Area residents towards I-480 (the "world's longest off-ramp," as it was derisively called) may be too much to justify resigning this 2.16 mile stretch of freeway.
25. Interstate 49, Louisiana. Originally running from Shreveport, through the middle of Louisiana to Lafayette and I-10, I-49 was slated to route down and around through the bayou area to the south side of New Orleans. The portion of I-49 under construction south of I-10 was in one of the heaviest-hit parts of Louisiana during Hurricane Katrina; the section is considered to be crucial to a possible future evacuation route from the southern parishes of the state. I-49 is slated to expand northward beyond the state line, connecting north to Kansas City, MO between Shreveport and the Arkansas state line. The plan is to route I-49 north to Texarkana (the existing I-130), Fort Smith, AR (I-540) and Joplin, MO, bypassing US 71 for most of the length. The section between Texarkana and Fort Smith is the most troublesome, as it would require construction through the Ouachita Mountains.
26. Interstate 540, Arkansas. This Interstate connects Bentonville, AR – the home of Wal-Mart stores – with Fort Smith and I-40. Currently, it is one of the few three-digit Interstates to cross over and run concurrently with its "parent" interstate, though it did not begin life that way: initially, I-540 was the spur from Van Buren, AR southwest into Fort Smith, crossing the Arkansas River. Then, in 1995, Arkansas 540 between I-40 at Alma and Mountainburg was opened and re-designated as I-540. Both "spurs" begin their mile marker designation at I-40 with exit 1. The northern extension was opened to Springdale in 1999, then to US 62 west of Rogers in 2000, and then to the north side of Bentonville in 2001. A northern toll road extension is set for completion in 2007-2008 to Bella Vista and the Missouri state line. This tollway will bypass US 71 to the west, entering Missouri near Pineville, with a northern terminus at the existing US 71 freeway in Anderson, MO. When the tollway is completed, it will extend I-540 all the way north to I-44 in Joplin. The entire freeway is planned to become part of the new I-49 corridor, extending south to Texarkana and Shreveport, LA.
27. Interstate 88 (IL and NY). One interstate designation, two states – and no connection in-between. The original section of I-88 was built to connect Binghamton and Schenectady, NY in the 1970's, connecting central New York with the Capitol District. In 1988, the state of Illinois changed the designation of the east-west Tollway (IL 5) from Chicago to US 30 outside of Rock Falls to I-88. The Interstate was later extended west to meet I-80 outside of east Moline (IL 5 continues west into Moline and Rock Island). In 2004, the Tollway was renamed the Ronald Reagan Memorial Tollway, in honor of the late President. Reagan's hometown of Dixon is located near the western end of the Tollway. Both sections of I-88 are single-state Interstates that do not cross a state line.
28. Interstate 526, Charleston area, SC. The state of South Carolina features many interesting locales, such as Hilton Head Island and Myrtle Beach. It also features three separate Interstate spurs that cross over their mainline routes in both directions. The furthest south of these is I-526, which heads off to the west side of Charleston to US 17, and circles around to the east through Hanahan on the Mark Clark Expressway to Mount Pleasant, SC. I-26, meanwhile, spurs into the city of Charleston, ending at US 17 in downtown. The Expressway was approved as an Interstate in 1989. I-526 is planned to continue from its western terminus at US 17 south towards Folly Beach, then east onto James Island and connecting with the SC 30 Freeway (the James Island Expressway). This last stretch of highway would be integrated into I-526, ending the three-quarter loop in downtown Charleston. The proposed west end of I-526 would be about a mile southwest of the eastern terminus of I-26.
29. Interstate 185, Greenville, SC. Originally a spur into downtown Greenville from I-85 northbound – there was no access from southbound I-85 – the freeway ended at the Greenville Medical Center. In 1999, the interchange at I-85 was made full access, while the new Southern Connector toll road was built to the south, creating a bypass of the city by connecting to I-385 in Simpsonville, SC. The new tollway was opened in 2001 as the only Interstate toll road in South Carolina. (The only other toll road is the Cross Island Parkway on Hilton Head Island, extending from US 278 to Palmetto Bay Road on the south end of the island.) Because the tollway was designated to carry the I-185 shield, the "spur" was extended to 17.7 miles in length.
30. Interstate 385, South Carolina. This is the other I-85 spur out of Greenville, SC, connecting the Interstate with I-26 near Clinton, SC on the western edge of the Sumter National Forest. I-385 originally was the northern spur into downtown Greenville, passing Greenville Downtown Airport. The freeway ends six blocks east of US 29; the last six blocks on E. North Street are signed as Business I-385 near the Bi-Lo Center. The freeway was later extended south to connect to US 276, where it now meets I-185 between Mauldin and Simpsonville. The freeway section of US 276 south to Clinton, SC was renumbered I-385 when the northern portion was completed, and US 276 was truncated at I-385. I-385 and I-185 are the two closest Interstate spurs in the US that cross their parent highway.