Thursday, June 28, 2007

"Driving Through Greensboro"

Skip to the random thought

I haven't driven through Greensboro a whole lot, but I have a few times. And by that, I mean I've taken the expressways through town. So I don't really know what driving on Greensboro's surface streets is like. Quite frankly, I don't want to know. I only care about the through roads, since that's how I'll be spending most of my time in Greensboro - going through it.

Greensboro isn't that much different than Raleigh. It's part of a major metropolitan area of about the same size () and including several cities. Greensboro, Winston-Salem, and High Point are the "big three", while we have Raleigh, Durham, and Chapel Hill. Both metropolitan areas have an approximate 2006 population of 1.5 million, with Raleigh-Durham (the "Triangle") slightly ahead of Greensboro/Winston-Salem (the "Triad"), according to this. Ha, take that!

So, here in the Raleigh area, we're building a new loop expressway, I-540. Slowly, but surely, it will envelop Wake County. (Notice that I'm not using my "Raleigh (Cary)" notation; that's because I'm talking about the entire metropolitan area. I usually reserve that notation for when I'm talking about Cary, or Raleigh and Cary together, not including Durham and all of those other nearby areas.) What's Greensboro doing? Well, the same thing, with I-840. And, much like I-540, part of it is already completed:

The remaining sections are the southwestern segment from I-85 to I-40 west of town (due to be completed this year) and the northern half of the loop around Greensboro (won't be completed for quite a while, much like I-540). I thought the entire loop was going to be called I-840, but apparently that will only be the northern half of the loop. The southern half of the loop will become I-40 once it is completed, and the existing I-40 will be become Business I-40. That's a lot like I-85, which is already on the loop; the old I-85 is now Business I-85. Many states have "Business" interstate routes, but often times, they're surface roads, not expressways. North and South Carolina has made it a habit of renaming old, replaced interstates as "Business routes". I-40 in Winston-Salem already does this. I-85 in Spartanburg, SC also has. I guess that's better than using up another 3-digit spur, because North Carolina is starting to run out of those, at least for I-85 and I-40.

I can't wait for the southern loop to be completed. Then, driving through Greensboro will actually be fun! Right now, it kind of sucks. The existing I-40 (future Business I-40) isn't really up to snuff. So much so, it's earned the nickname "Death Valley". But there is one likeable thing about the road - this sign. North Carolina has also made a habit out of rerouting US highways onto the surrounding expressways (instead of the old routes through the city centers). This is an extreme case of that. Hey, why not stick US-29, US-70, US-220, and US-421 all onto the same piece of highway, along with I-40 and Business I-85? It's fun! I'm not sure how they're going to route the US highways once the loop is complete, but I wouldn't be surprised if we see more changes. I think I read somewhere in that Wikipedia web that US-421 would be rerouted onto the southern loop until its exit towards Sanford. That would make a lot of sense. They could also route US-29 and US-220 on there, too, once they complete the northeastern portion of the loop.

Raleigh-Durham has its airport, RDU. The highway signs simply reference "RDU Airport". The Greensboro area also has its airport, the Piedmont Triad International Airport. The highway signs there simply reference "PTI Airport". Therefore, I just assumed that PTI was the airport code, much like RDU is. But, nope - PTI is just the commonly used abbreviation; the actual airport code is GSO. That's lame.

Charlotte is also building a loop expressway, I-485. Much like I-540 and I-840, it's partially done, although it's more than halfway done. But the entire thing won't be done until next decade. North Carolina was a little late to the loop expressway party, it seems. Charlotte and Raleigh already had old, "wimpy" "loops" - Raleigh's I-440 loop, which is better than nothing, but is really just another expressway that goes through town; and Charlotte's I-277 "loop" that isn't even 5 miles long, and barely even goes around downtown. (Which, Charlotte calls "Uptown". Doesn't that sound snooty?) This paragraph had absolutely nothing to do with Greensboro, didn't it? Let's get back on track here for one more paragraph.

Driving through Greensboro will be really nice once the southern bypass is completed. Winston-Salem? Eh. Most of my driving through Winston-Salem has been going from US-421 (err, Business I-40) to US-52 towards the northwest (or vice versa), which isn't great, but it's better than "Death Valley". And I haven't driven through High Point yet, or made the I-85 drive to Charlotte. I bet that's fun. We'll have to put that on our to-do list.

Last Year: "Bar Poker Tuesday". That was fun while it lasted. I haven't played a single hand of poker since December.

Tomorrow: "You Call This Summer?". Here it is, near the end of June in North Carolina, and I'm not sick of the heat yet. What's up with that?

Today's random thought:

- Some microwaves, after the timer runs out, stay on for a few extra seconds. The sound of the microwave changes at this point, so I would assume it's not cooking any more. But what purpose do those extra couple of seconds serve? Is it to let the turntable return to the original position? Or is it to drain hot air out of the microwave? Or is it just for "style"?


Jeff said...

When they complete the beltway, they won't number it 540, will they?

Chris Allen said...

That's correct. Once it's complete, they will renumber it 640.