Monday, November 14, 2016

Early proposal for US 71 relocation in Greenwood, AR

This is an excerpt from a circa 1961 Sebastian County road map, courtesy of the Arkansas State Highway Commission (now ARDOT), It shows a proposed relocation of US 71 that would bypass the section of highway that is now AR 10S and downtown Greenwood, connecting to AR 10 just west of the then-current highway 71. Interestingly enough, the narrow, winding, hilly, dangerous old US 71 routing over Backbone Mountain would have remained a part of US 71. This alignment was never built, and in its place a western bypass of Greenwood was built, bypassing what is now AR 10S and Backbone Mountain. That section, which goes through a very impressive road cut that looks like a set of stairs for a giant, is now 4 lanes divided as is US 71 all the way to Fort Smith. The expressway ends at the southern end of the Greenwood bypass, where it meets the old Backbone Mountain highway. I wonder why they were considering this routing in the first place, and what made them change their minds.

Friday, June 4, 2010

US 271

The original route of US 271 is a mystery. It originally ran from Ft Smith, AR to Mena, AR via Poteau, OK. The routing north of Page was more or less along the modern routing of US 59 and 271. The mysterious part of the route is from Mena to Page. Let's see what the respective DOTs say.

The 1925 Oklahoma map shows it as plain old OK 23. Note that OK 23 heads south from Heavener, then east, then northeast, then east again. Let's move to 1927:

This map shows OK 23 duplexed with US 71. Obviously a mapo, or was there some sort of border war over US 71's route? It shows the road east of Page on the south side of Black Fork Mountain as being under construction.  On to 1928:

The first appearance of US 271 on an Oklahoma map. To add confusion, the routes of AR 8 and AR 88 have been changed since these maps were printed. The route that is now AR 8 in Mena was AR 88 in 1928 and the route that is now US 59/270 was AR 8. US 271 would have had to follow what is now US 259 from Page to Big Cedar and what is now OK 63 from Big Cedar to the Arkansas line. Now on to 1929:

The Oklahoma map now shows US 271 following the modern US 59/270 route into Arkansas. The Arkansas map, however, still shows it following the modern OK 63/AR 8 route. (AR 8 on this map is now US 59/270.) Also note that it clearly shows US 271 following current CR 93 to end at US 71 near Potter instead of following the modern AR 8 route to end at Mena. Now on to 1930:

The Oklahoma map shows the highway from Poteau to Mena as US 371. Is this another mapo? It also shows the modern route of US 271 south of Poteau. The Arkansas map isn't very clear. One thing it is clear about is that AR 88 followed current CR 93. It does show OK 23 connecting with AR 8. On to 1931:

US 270 makes its first appearance. Note that the Wister-Heavener highway wasn't originally part of US 270.

Which routing of US 271 was correct? Did US 71 or 371 really ever exist in Oklahoma? Was there some sort of a a border war between Arkansas who wanted US 71 to run through Waldron and Mansfield and Oklahoma who wanted it to run through Heavener and Poteau? There are at least 3 possible termini of US 271 in Polk County: CR 188 at CR 76, CR 93 at old US 71, or Reine and Reeves in Mena. Per signage standards of the time, it could have been cosigned to end in downtown Mena.

UPDATE 2/8/2017 

US 71 found this map that shows US 271 following current US 59/270 south of Heavener. (Ignore the sloppy cartography typical of this era of mapmaking.) If this map is correct, then the endpoint of US 271 was at the junction of modern CR 76 and CR 188 near Acorn a few hundred yards from the pony truss bridge over the Ouachita River.

UPDATE 8/8/2017

I found a map of LeFlore County from the late 1920s that shows US 271 following US 59/270 into Arkansas:

UPDATE 3/7/2018

I found this map, located here in its entirety. It is from a 1927 Rand McNally map. It shows US 271 following modern day US 59/270 into Arkansas near Howard....

However, this map excerpt from the same 1927 Rand McNally road atlas shows US 271 coming into Arkansas near Howard and coming into Mena via modern AR 8. The problem here is that there is a huge mountain called Rich Mountain between modern US 59/270 and modern AR 8 (AR 88, the Talimena Drive, runs along the top of this mountain) and there is nor has there ever been a road that crossed Rich Mountain in this area. 

And this 1927 National Map Company map shows US 271 heading south from Heavener and around the north side of Black Fork Mountain then diagonally towards Acorn.

UPDATE 4/16/2018

I photocopied this undated map in 1997 or 1998 at the UCA Archives in Conway. It shows US 271 following modern AR 8, co-signed with AR 88. It shows it ending in Mena. It also shows AR 8 signed along modern US 59-270, which is correct. 

UPDATE 1/18/2019

The next two excerpts are from a map of the Poteau River watershed from a report created by the US Engineer Office dated November 25, 1930 shows US 271 more or less following its current route while the highway from Poteau to Acorn was shown as US 371. It shows US 371 following modern US 59/270. Notably, it shows a US 371 shield in Arkansas. This map and the map above are the only two maps I've ever seen showing a US 371 in Oklahoma. The mystery thickens.

UPDATE 3/13/2019

I don't know what to make of this one. It shows US 271 following modern US 59/270 from Heavener to Page and then heading northeast on the road that goes through Hicks, around the north side of Black Fork Mountain, through the community of Black Fork and meeting the modern alignment at Eagleton. Also note the presence of AR 8 west of Eagleton. There are roads that follow that routing today but they're narrow country roads that run through secluded parts of Oklahoma and Arkansas. This bridge is along that route. Seeing this map prompted me to reexamine some of my other maps, and noticed how OK 23 was routed just short of the state line. It is possible the road through Hicks was a state highway at one time, especially if the highway on the south side of Black Fork Mountain wasn't built yet. The bridges along US 59/270 east of Page were built in 1927, which supports this hypothesis. The routing through Hicks and Black Fork was likely never signed as US 271 but was possibly an early alignment of OK 23.

Saturday, May 22, 2010

US 59-270 overlap in Arkansas and Oklahoma

The US 59-270 duplex in Arkansas and Oklahoma is unusual because the dominant name of the highway changes at the state line. In Arkansas, the road is locally known as Highway 270. In Oklahoma, the road is locally known as Highway 59. The state highway departments seem to agree. Here's an excerpt from the Arkansas control section map of Polk County:

As you can see, the control section number is US 270, section 1. US 59 only exists in Arkansas as an overlap. Here's an excerpt from the LeFlore County control section map:

It shows the control section number as 59. Signs along the 59/270 overlap in Oklahoma point to "Old US 59" and addresses along this section are US 59 addresses. In Arkansas, addresses along US 59/270 are US 270 addresses. Is there anywhere else in the US that a US highway changes control section designations at a state line like this?

Monday, May 10, 2010

US 64: Tulsa's redheaded stepchild

US 64 takes an unusual trek through the Tulsa metro. Most of the highway is duplexed with other roads, and the other roads are considered the dominant road. US 64 and 412 merge at the end of the Cimmaron Turnpike. This road is locally known as either "412" or "Keystone Expressway". In downtown Tulsa along the Inner Dispersal Loop, US 64 piggybacks I-244 for a short distance then piggybacks hidden I-444 and US 75. Then it heads east along a highway that is locally known as "The BA" or Broken Arrow Expressway and sometimes "Highway 51" but rarely "64." The entire stretch of the US 64/OK 51 piggyback has OK 51 as the primary number. The control section map of this area confirms this:

It also confirms that 169 is the main number on the 169/64 overlap. After leaving OK 51, US 64 follows US 169 south. This highway is known locally as "169". I've never heard anybody call it US 64. Even the US 169 signs are placed above the US 64 signs on trailblazer assemblies. Once US 169 ends and US 64 heads south, you would think it would finally get its own identity. You'd be wrong! Because US 64 through Bixby is locally known as "Memorial." US 64 doesn't get its identity back until you get past the Leonard Curve on the south side of Bixby. Poor US 64. It doesn't get the respect it deserves.

Sunday, March 1, 2009

OK 88

No, not that one. The 1967 ODOT map shows the Talimena Drive complete west of US 259 and signed as OK 88:

...which would have matched up with AR 88. But by 1968 it was shown as OK 1. Note OK 1 cosigned with US 259 and 59/270 to the state line.

By 1971 the Talimena Drive is shown as complete:

Was the Talimena Drive ever signed as OK 88, and was OK 1 ever signed along US 259 and 59/270?

UPDATE 6-6-16

I finally found my proof that at least part of the Drive was signed as OK 88:

Saturday, February 28, 2009

Unbuilt US 70/270 in Hot Springs

The following are excerpts from the 1962 Garland County map. First the Hot Springs inset:

Note the proposed US 70-270 relocation. It would have followed Grand Avenue west to a new alignment that would have crossed US 270 (now 270B) near Mission Street and met US 70 (now 70B) just east of the railroad tracks. It even shows up on the main Garland County map:

The relocation was never built, but a proper US 70/270 freeway bypass was built in stages during the 1990s and 2000s, with a proposed extension to the AR 5/7 intersection at Fountain Lake. The proposed relocation shown here would have made sense, avoiding a rather narrow section of Albert Pike Road and several sharp curves, along with the one-way section through Hot Springs. Easily the most dangerous part of the former 70-270 route in Hot Springs. WB 70/270 were later extended along Grand to Summer, while EB 70/270 stayed on the Hobson to 3rd route shown here. US 70B/270B follow those routes to this day. This relocation would have made a smooth transaction from 70 and 270 west to the boulevard-style Grand Avenue. But I'd still rather have the freeway bypass than this relocation.

Another relic of the former plans for US 70 through Hot Springs is the now US 70B freeway that runs near Magic Springs. It's odd having a 2 lane highway with alternating passing lanes split into a freeway mainline bypass and a freeway business route. But the 70B freeway provides a quick connection from the middle of Hot Springs to Little Rock and points beyond.

Special thanks to Geostor for the historic map images.

Proposed expressways of Camden

The map below is from the 1963 Ouachita County AHTD map. It shows a proposed system of expressways in the city of Camden:

Click for larger image(41 KB)

Some of these roads were built. The eastern portion of the US 79 expressway was built on a slightly different alignment and is a 4 lane expressway, complete with an awkward interchange with US 79B/US 278 (AR 4 was renumbered US 278 in the late 1990s) and more conventional interchanges at AR 7 and US 79 south but at-grades elsewhere. The AR 4/US 278 expressway was also built in a slightly different location than shown on the map. It was built with 2 lanes, but now about half of it has been upgraded to 4 lanes. The T intersection at US 278B/old US 278 is unfortunate, as WB traffic must stop and make a left hand turn to continue on the highway. US 278 has many stop signs in Arkansas.

The AR 7 expressway as shown on this map was never built. An AR 7 expressway was built on mostly new location from Camden to El Dorado, but it ties back into the old route just north of Tate. Existing AR 7 was upgraded to a surface arterial "expressway" north of this point to the US 79 expressway. The interesting part of this map is that it shows the relocated AR 7 extending all the way to downtown Camden. NOTE: the map legend labels the double-dotted line as "projected road" so any or all of these roads could possibly have been proposed as 2 lane surface roads.

Special thanks to Geostor for the historic map images.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Arkansas highway DA NR-1?

The following excerpt is a portion of the 1963 revision of the AHTD Ouachita County map.

The area to the south and east was once part of the Shumaker Naval Ammunition Depot. Note the oddly lettered highway running east from US 79. The highway in question is part of today's AR 205. I'm guessing "NR" stood for "Naval Reserve" or something similar. But what did "DA" stand for? How was this highway signed, if at all? And was there a DA NR-2? What's the story behind this oddity?

Special thanks to Geostor for the historic map images.