Monthly Archives: January 2012

Our New England Adventure

A week-and-a-half ago, Mary and I traveled to the New England area to see my little brother Chris assume command of the USS Springfield in a formal ceremony at the U.S. Submarine Base in Groton/New London, Connecticut.

My brother, Commander Chris Williams, and I in Connecticut
(Photo By Mary Williams)

The Williams Family at the Naval Submarine Library and Museum in Groton, CT.
(Photo By Amy Rossetti)

During our brief stay in Connecticut, we also found some time to do a little touring around Groton, New London, and Mystic, plus a jaunt up to the Mohegan Sun Casino to celebrate Chris’s new assignment over dinner at Jimmy Buffett’s Margaritaville.

Given our time constraints, Mary and I decided to fly Delta from Atlanta to Boston and then rent a car to drive down to Groton, approximately 100 miles (160 km) south of Boston just off I-95 near the Rhode Island state line.

Roadgeek-wise, I got to drive through part of Boston’s famous “Big Dig”, the Ted Williams Tunnel (I-90/Massachusetts Turnpike), which was a $3.50 toll for drivers heading into Boston from Logan International Airport.

Speaking of the toll, the vehicle in front of us was stopped at the plaza for at least 5 minutes, causing traffic to queue up. After he finally pulled off and it was my turn to pay the toll, the “Mass Pike” collector explained to me that the guy was German and apparently did not realize that this was a toll road, so she waved him through. I remarked that though I was from Georgia, I knew there was a toll. We didn’t exactly have a long chat, since I didn’t want to hold up traffic any longer, but I thought it was kinda funny. Hopefully, the poor guy got off the “Mass Pike” before he got to another plaza, which may not have been quite as charitable to him as the nice lady at the Ted Williams plaza.

On our way to Groton, I got to drive the southernmost 16 miles (26 km) of I-93 and the southernmost 12 miles (19 km) of I-95 in Massachusetts, and “clinch” all 43.5 miles (70 km) of I-95 in Rhode Island. 
I also “clinched” 3 Massachusetts counties (Bristol, Norfolk, and Suffolk), 3 Rhode Island counties (Kent, Providence, and Washington), and one (1) Connecticut county (New London).

During our 3-day stay in Connecticut, I drove a total of 24 miles (38 km) of I-95, plus drive the southernmost 9.5 miles (15 km) of I-395.

In Connecticut, I noticed a lot of “button-copy” signage and
how several of the signs showed “outlined” route markers. Connecticut
also likes to put the exit tabs in the center, as opposed to on the
right (or left for left-hand exits) as per MUTCD standards. Here’s a
photo I took of one of the overhead gantries on I-95 southbound near

Like Georgia did until 2000, Connecticut, Massachusetts, and Rhode Island number their exits sequentially instead of by milepost.

For those of you who are fans of state names within Interstate shields, Connecticut is your place, since most of their signpost-mounted Interstate shields are of that “old-school” type (similar to how Georgia does it). Here’s one of them (with “yours truly”) near the Old Mistick Village…

Above photo taken by Mary Williams.

On I-395 southbound, just south of the Mohegan Sun Casino, I noticed a rest area with a Mobil gas station. Since non-tolled Interstates do not normally allow commercial businesses in rest areas, it is apparently a holdout from when I-395 was part of the pre-1985 Connecticut Turnpike toll road (now known as the Governor John Davis Lodge Turnpike).

Last Saturday, I drove back to Boston from Groton… in 100 miles of snowy highways.

Before we could leave, I had to dig the car out of snow before leaving our hotel in Mystic…

Above photo taken by Mary Williams.

After digging out the car and hitting the snowy, slippery road to Boston, Mary took several more photos along our journey.

Here’s how I-95 northbound looked in Connecticut…

I-95 in Rhode Island wasn’t much different as shown below…

As we approached I-93 in Massachusetts, the plows were in force and the roads were a lot clearer as shown in the final “winter road” photo below…

In Massachusetts, we noticed that several of the plows working along the roads were private contractors. Perhaps GDOT could take note next time we get another “snowmageddon”.

By the time we arrived at our hotel in Boston after being on the road for at least 4 hours, I was not exactly smiling as I was in the photo where I was digging out the car. In fact, it was one of those rare moments where I was just freakin’ sick and tired of driving. This was the longest I have ever driven in crappy winter weather. BTW, I think I’ve changed my mind on pursuing a career in ice road trucking.

The next morning, it was bright, sunny, and I-93 and I-90 were nice and clear of snow and ice on our way to Logan Airport to drop off the rental car and catch our flight back to Atlanta… and milder weather.

Overall, we had a nice experience in New England, got to see my brother (and even tour his boat), see some sights, drive more Interstates, and “clinch” more counties. Next time, I’d like to visit the area in the warmer months and drive the rest of Boston’s “Big Dig”.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading, enjoy the rest of your weekend, and please come back often.

GA 400 Breakdown Lane Could Become Travel Lane

Hi, Y’all!

Hope your new year has gotten off to a good start and that all is well with you and yours.

Here are GRG HQ, I haven’t been blogging as much as I had been over the last 6 years, and since it’s been at least a month since I’ve written a blog, I figured it was time to get off my butt and do so.

In most recent Georgia road news, Governor Nathan Deal is proposing that a section of breakdown lane on US 19/GA 400 from the North Springs MARTA Station (Exit 5C) to Holcomb Bridge Road/GA 140 (Exit 7) be converted to a regular travel lane during rush hour.

Right now, the breakdown lane in question already serves as an auxiliary bus travel lane for MARTA and GRTA Xpress buses to use when traffic is going slower than 35 MPH (60 km/h). Otherwise, it is designed strictly for vehicles that need to get off the road due to accidents or breakdowns and for emergency vehicles to use when they are rushing to a scene.

On the surface, it seems like a good idea (and it least it doesn’t involve tolls), but what about emergency vehicles that need to get to a scene (e.g. traffic accident)? If traffic on 400 is slammed (and boy, it can get slammed), then response times could seriously be affected. Depending on the extent of injuries, mere seconds could be the difference between life and death. Furthermore, how are you going to route traffic around accidents that cannot move off the road? The variable message signs can warn drivers at certain points to avoid the congested section in question, but for those who have unfortunately been caught up the mess by no fault of their own, it could be a potential logistical nightmare.

GDOT estimates the cost of converting the total of 11.5 miles (18.4 km) of existing lanes in question at US$1,000,000, versus US$3,000,000/mile (US$1,875,000/km). Frankly, I would prefer that the lanes be converted with new breakdown lanes added. Granted it would cost much more to add new lanes, but as a taxpayer, I would much rather see my tax dollars spent on doing the job properly.

As an additional alternative, perhaps GDOT could consider building at least a couple of shorter stretches of emergency lane to the right of the lanes for the purposes of mitigating any bottleneck potential. Said lanes could be built using asphalt instead of concrete to save some money. Just a thought.

What are your thoughts on this idea? Please feel free to post them in the comments section.

That’s it for now. Thanks for reading, please visit (and “like”) the GRG Facebook page, and enjoy the rest of your weekend.

SOURCE: “Governor’s GA 400 Plan Sparks Alarm“, Atlanta Journal-Constitution, January 14, 2012.