The View From Wisconsin

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

Saturday, May 20, 2006


31. Interstate 95, New Jersey. Interstate 95 is the longest north-south Interstate in the US, traveling through 15 states and Washington, DC from Miami, FL to Houlton, ME. However, if you drive north from Philadelphia into Trenton, NJ, you may be in for a shock. As you circle around to the northeast of Trenton, you come upon the exit for US 1. As you pass the exit, you suddenly see signs informing you that you are now on I-295, heading south to Mercerville. What happened to I-95? It's a simple explanation: NIMBY (Not In My Back Yard). The people of Princeton and New Brunswick, NJ (located northeast of the US 1 exit) did not want to have a freeway running through their county. There were also complaints from the New Jersey Turnpike Authority, which did not want a freeway "bypassing" their turnpike just miles to the south. The freeway was supposed to meet up with I-287 near south Bound Brook; I-95 was then to head east to the Jersey Turnpike near Perth Amboy. Since the project, known as the Somerset Freeway, was killed back in the 1980's, I-95 has had a gap between the New York metro area and Trenton ever since. A new interchange near Newportville, PA will connect the southern leg of I-95 to the eastern extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike (I-276), which will then route I-95 over to the New Jersey Turnpike and finally "close off" I-95 – sometime around 2010.
32. Interstate 595, Fort Lauderdale, FL. The Everglades Expressway – better known as "Alligator Alley" through the southern edge of Florida – connects the Gulf coast of the state with the greater Miami/Fort Lauderdale area. In the 1960's, this freeway – called the Port Everglades Expressway – was planned to connect Alligator Alley to US Highway 1 in Fort Lauderdale, originally as a toll road. When I-75 was routed south into Miami, the expressway was changed to an Interstate east of the Sawgrass Expressway. By 1989, the entire freeway was opened all the way to the Fort Lauderdale/Hollywood International Airport and US 1. Since the highway was built as a spur from I-95 to the Everglades, the Interstate was given the designation I-595. The section is one of a handful of Interstate spurs that crosses over its parent freeway.
33. Interstate 17, Arizona. This single-state Interstate has an unusual feature: unlike other Interstates that usually begin with a mile marker of 0 or 1, I-17 begins at mile marker 194. The reason for this was the method that the state of Arizona used to reckon mileage. If a route did not enter Arizona from another state, it used the mileage of the route where its southern or western end is located, instead of a zero mile marker. I-17's exit numbers are actually those of the former longer routing of AZ 69, which branched off from US 89 at MM 201, since the two roads were paired together as the Interstate was being completed into Phoenix. AZ 69 now "ends" at I-17 in Cordes Junction. I-17 is one of the most scenic Interstates, traveling 145.76 miles from the Phoenix valley past Piestwa Peak, through the Agua Fria National Monument north to Flagstaff. The landscape is dramatic, going from desert landscape and saguaros to forest and mountains. It is also the gateway to the Grand Canyon area, along US 89 north of Flagstaff. (Personal note: I have driven most of the length of this Interstate. It is very beautiful and scenic.)
34. Interstate 19, Arizona. Because this stretch of single-state Interstate connects Tucson with the Mexican border, I-19's exit numbers (along with distance markers) are signed in kilometers instead of miles. Speed limit signs, however, are still posted in miles per hour. The state decided in 2004, however, that as the signs wear out on the freeway, they will be replaced by mile markers instead. I-19 bypassed old AZ route 89 for its entire 63.35 mile (101.95 km) distance to Nogales. In Nogales, the freeway ends 100 yards north of the Mexican border; about a quarter-mile east at the end of Business I-19 is the beginning of Mexico Federal Highway 15 (M-15). M-15 travels south along the coast of the Gulf of California to Mazatlan and Guadalajara, and then crosses central Mexico to Mexico City (Ciduad de Mexico) – over 1,400 miles, almost 23 times longer than I-19. Not all of M-15 is Interstate grade, however; most of the sections that are freeway-grade are actually toll roads.
35. Interstate 585, Spartanburg, SC. After many years of having I-85 cross about a mile north of Spartanburg, a bypass was built a few miles further north. The old section of I-85 was re-designated as "Business I-85" – but nothing was done about the I-585 spur that took traffic into Spartanburg along the US 176 freeway to US 221 on the north side of the city. To add to an already strange situation, I-585 is signed "early" on US 176 in Spartanburg, with Interstate shields posted several blocks south of the interchange with US 221. Thus, I-585 is an Interstate spur that doesn't extend far enough to its "parent" Interstate in one direction, and extends too far in the other direction. The section of US 176 between the two I-85 legs is being upgraded to freeway status to eventually connect I-585 with I-85 near the campus of USC-Spartanburg.
36. Interstate 27, Texas. This "intrastate" highway connects two of the biggest cities in the Texas Panhandle, Amarillo and Lubbock. The 124.13 mile stretch is one of three single-state mainline freeways in the state of Texas – more than any other state. The freeway's southern terminus is on the far south side of Lubbock, where it meets the southern leg of the TX 289 "loop" around the city. The freeway continues south for about four miles as US 87. I-27's northern terminus is at I-40; the freeway continues north for about a half-mile as US 60, 87 and 287. I-27 follows and is co-signed with US 87 for its entire length. The Interstate is located right in the middle of the Port-to-Plains High Priority Corridor, which could result in its extension all the way south to I-10 and the Mexican border – and, possibly, extended to the north all the way to Denver, CO.
37. Interstate 37, Texas. If the cities of Dallas, TX and Saint Paul, MN could only agree, this could be the number of the Interstate through their cities. Right now, it is a 142-mile connector freeway from San Antonio down to Corpus Christi and the Gulf coast. The southern terminus is the only place in the US where an Interstate, US highway and state highway end at the same place, at the junction of US 181 and TX 35 in downtown Corpus Christi. I-37's northern terminus is at US 281, where it continues to the northern leg of TX Loop 1604. US 281 then continues north as a regular highway into Wichita Falls, missing the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex by 20-25 miles to the west. I-37 is unique in that it is one of the only limited-access routes available during a hurricane evacuation situation from the southern Gulf coast of Texas. Because of this, the freeway has crossing gates that allow traffic to travel in "contra-flow" mode – both sides of the freeway traveling in the same direction. I-37 will eventually meet up with a new I-69 near George West at its intersection with US 59.
38. Interstate 45, Texas. This single-state freeway connects the two largest metropolitan areas in the state of Texas – Dallas and Houston. The southern terminus is actually at Galveston, at the interchange of TX 87 and TX Spur 342 on Galveston Island. The freeway services the Johnson Space Center, and then continues north into Dallas. Drivers would be led to believe that the freeway ends at I-30 in Dallas, but in reality the last half-mile before the interchange is signed as US 75, and is actually the unsigned I-345 (or IH-345 in Texas). In an exit numbering anomaly, I-345 continues I-45's exit numbers north to the Woodall Rogers Freeway, where the numbering "restarts" at Exit 1. I-45 is the longest Interstate in the US ending with a 5 that does not travel from border-to-border (at least touch either the Mexican or Canadian border) or cross state lines. It was also the key evacuation route for Hurricane Rita in 2005 – but the length of the highway and heavy flow of traffic turned the freeway into a parking lot, literally. Cars headed north out of the path of the hurricane ran out of gas, and stations along the route ran out of fuel.
39. Interstate 101 (DelMarVa – never built). Delaware's status as the First State does not generally overcome the fact that it is one of the smallest states in the Union. It also has only about 20 miles of Interstate highway within its borders. On top of this, its capital city of Dover is one of only five state capitals not served by an Interstate highway. In addition to Juneau, AK (mentioned elsewhere), the others are: Carson City, NV; Jefferson City, MO; and Pierre, SD. Dover is located the furthest away from the nearest Interstate, at approximately 45 miles south of I-95 in Wilmington. The state of Delaware decided to build a southern extension of the Delaware Turnpike from just south of the Chesapeake and Delaware Canal down the length of the state to Dover AFB outside of the capital. When the extension was completed, state officials petitioned AASHTO to authorize construction of an Interstate 101 that would traverse the rest of the length of the Delaware Peninsula to Salisbury, MD and down the Virginia section of the Peninsula to the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel and into Virginia Beach. The request was denied, as AASHTO did not want to authorize a three-digit mainline Interstate. The 165-mile tollway extension remains signed as Delaware Highway 1.
40. Interstate 794, Milwaukee, WI. If you ever have the opportunity to drive from downtown Chicago up Lake Shore Drive to the northern suburbs, consider this while you are driving: this section was actually the southern section of what is now Interstate (and Wisconsin State Highway) 794 in Milwaukee. When planners began mapping out routes for possible Interstates, they intended to supplement the north-south Freeway coming out of downtown Milwaukee with a freeway that would run along the lakeshore and down to the state line, where it would meet a similar freeway coming north from Illinois. This proposal, called the Lake Freeway, would start at the two "ends" and gradually built to meet at or near the state line. Besides Lake Shore Drive and the Edens Expressway, there are two short stretches in North Chicago and Waukegan that were parts of the southern end of the Lake Freeway. The northern end in Milwaukee was proposed in the late 1960's, and was approved by a county-wide referendum in 1974; however, mass opposition to the project caused construction to be stalled. This resulted in downtown Milwaukee having two "stub" freeways, one on the north side of downtown (called the Park Freeway, signed as WI 145) and Interstate 794. I-794 is the section of the East-West Freeway (Interstate 94) located east of its intersection with the North-South Freeway (now known as Interstate 43 at what is now known as the Marquette Interchange) located southwest of downtown Milwaukee. In the 1970's, the section of I-794 east went essentially nowhere. The freeway had two ramps, one heading north and one heading south, both ending in open air to unbuilt freeways. In the early 1980's, the northern ramp was rebuilt to lead to Lincoln Memorial Drive, while the southern ramp was routed to the new Hoan Memorial Bridge over the Port of Milwaukee, terminating at the US Coast Guard Station. It would take many years of political infighting to complete the freeway as far south as Layton Avenue in Cudahy. Because of all the opposition, the "freeway" was downgraded to a limited-access highway, with a traffic signal at the Oklahoma Avenue exit. The signal was necessitated because of the lack of space for a proper off-ramp on the southbound side. WI 794 now ends beyond Layton Avenue on the Far East side of Mitchell Airport at the intersection of Edgerton and Pennsylvania Avenues.