Saturday, November 17, 2012

The Danger Zone, Part 1

One of my roadgeek goals for 2013 is to clinch all of the state primary routes in VDOT's 4th (Richmond) district. I have most of them, but most of the ones I'm missing are well away from the metro area (VA 46, for example). Virginia also assigns many state facilities route numbers, usually with a 3XX designation, though VA 217 and VA 409 are two notable exceptions to that rule. One of the most far-flung 3XX routes in District 4 is VA 313 in northern Powhatan County, serving the Beaumont Juvenile Correctional Center (formerly Learning Center). It lies off US 522 just south of the James River. It wasn't the main focus of my trip, but it and a couple more 3XX routes (339 and 324) were in the area of what I wanted to travel, so, having yesterday off, I decided to head northwest to what was VA 44 from 1933 to 1952 but is now Chesterfield/Powhatan secondary route 711. Unlike other former primary routes I've driven (Old VA 38, for example), old 44 still looks and drives like a primary route, reminding me of VA 10 east of Hopewell. At the time of its decommissioning, VA 44 probably didn't have much traffic, as the northern Chesterfield population boom didn't start for another decade or two, but today it's very busy east of VA 288 and moderately so west of there, so it should be restored to primary status.

VA 339 and 324 were on the way to old 44. Here I was heading on US 60 westbound approaching VA 339. It's just past the signal in the far background.

VA 339 serves a Virginia State Police facility. It looked rather foreboding.

About a mile past VA 339 is US 60's interchange with VA 76.

Another mile or so away is Robious Road, most of which was VA 44 and is now SR 711, but between US 60 and VA 147 has always been SR 675. This photo is from a previous trip because my camera decided to activate flash on its own yesterday.

Shortly after Robious begins, SR 718 (Old Bon Air Road) is there. Using shields on secondary routes is highly unusual for Chesterfield County. Hmm...

Old Bon Air takes you to VA 324.

VA 324 was initially on the right heading northbound, as I was, but I missed the turn.

Beginning down VA 324, which goes by the name Chatsworth Avenue and runs as a loop off SR 718. Once again, my camera has a mind of its own.

I actually turned around and went to the other end of VA 324, which has a street blade that may or may not have the route number on it. It's definitely not posted anywhere else. Here's the facility it serves.

VA 324 north of the facility is narrow and curvy.

Approaching the north end of VA 324. A Stop Ahead sign is normally used around here instead of a T sign.

Back on SR 718, returning to Robious.

Parking lot photo.

Beginning westbound on Robious again.

Passing Early Settlers Road, which is SR 775 to the south and SR 1775 to the north. Wait, what?

Approaching VA 147, which means Robious changes designations from 675 to 711. This was the east end of VA 44.

Yeah, there's a railroad crossing in the middle of the intersection. So what?

Virginia Byway sign. There were also more secondary route shield postings, but I missed them all.

The first of several elevation changes on old VA 44. It's a blast to drive; one of those roads that's really fun with a stick shift. It was still 45 MPH at this point, though.

Robious drops to one lane in each direction after a signal. There wasn't any active construction going on here.

I was confused by the presence of the Truck banner at first, until I realized it means no truck U-turns here. I initially wondered why trucks should take particular notice that there's a divided median here.

Entering Powhatan County. Old VA 44's name changes to Huguenot Trail.

SR 714 is Winterfield Road in both Chesterfield and Powhatan.

Not long after Winterfield is VA 288 with a simple diamond interchange.

This is usually only seen on primary routes. I'm just saying.

I thought I was already in Powhatan County!

Now the speed limit's up to 55 MPH.

Reminds me of VA 5 or VA 6.

Jude's Ferry Road (SR 613 and/or 614) is apparently pretty important.

One of the rare occasions where I'm catching up to traffic.

Ugh, Series B on a guide sign.

Going over bridges. What I didn't photograph was the hills going down to them.

Maximum Safe Speed sign. The eastbound counterpart was a standard "50 MPH" sign. That's the State Farm in the background.

And just like that, we're at US 522.

As you might be able to see, old VA 44 became one of my favorite roads and reinforced my belief that it should become primary again...but what lies ahead? What happens to me on US 522 that makes me freak out? Do I clinch any other routes? Find out in part 2 of The Danger Zone.

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