West Virginia is so mountainous that it was quite late to be settled. The interstate highway system, although it doesn't completely do away with highway hazards, HAS helped to make the state accessible. Or actually made it possible to transit the state without a completely white knuckled grip on the steering wheel.
There are six interstate routes with two digits, and one "three digit" (I-470 around Wheeling) highway. They
Interstate 64 - the major east west route
Enters state: From Kentucky, Wayne County, near Kenova.
Leaves state: at Virginia, Greenbrier, near White Sulphur Springs.
Major Cities & Towns: Huntington, Charleston, Beckley, Lewisburg
I-64 was also one of the last major interstate routes completed in the United States. The segment from I-77 at Beckley to the US 60 interchange at Sam Black Church was not finished until the late 1980s. Prior to that, thru traffic had to use mountainous US 60 between Sam Black Church and Charleston.
Interstate 68 - an alternative route to the Pennsylvania Turnpike
Begins: At I-79, near Morgantown.
Leaves state: at Maryland's rural Preston County
I-68 was originally US 48 and was renumbered as an interstate route when the portion of US 40 east of Cumberland, Md., was upgraded to limited-access status.
Interstate 70 - cuts through the northern panhandle
Enters state at Wheeling.
Leaves state: Into Pennsylvania
Major Cities & Towns: Wheeling
Interstate 77 - the major north-south interstate
Enters state: From Virginia, Mercer County, near Bluefield.
Leaves state: Into Ohio, Wood County, near Williamstown.
Major Cities & Towns: Bluefield, Princeton, Beckley, Charleston, Ripley, Parkersburg.
Begins: At I-77, Charleston.
Major Cities & Towns: Charleston, Weston, Clarksburg, Fairmont, Morgantown.
This route, with I-77 and US 19 takes traffic from the Carolinas north into Pennsylvania and New York.
Interstate 81 - One of the busiest north-south interstates in the eastern United States, I-81 slices through the eastern panhandle of West Virginia.Related to:
- Road Trip
- Mountain Climbing
- Budget Travel
West Virginia has a Turnpike which still charges a toll for use. It is a four-lane highway about a 88 miles long to the south from near Charleston WV (the state capitol) to Princeton. I-77 goes the full length of the turnpike. We were on the I-64 section from Charleston to Beckley. The turnpike takes EZ Pass.
The website of the turnpike says:
Described as "an engineering achievement of heroic proportion," the Turnpike traverses mountainous terrain that required grades of up to five percent and the movement of 70 million cubic yards of earth. The Turnpike climbs from an elevation of 600 feet at Charleston to an elevation of 3400 feet at Flat Top Mountain. The Turnpike has 116 bridges - more than one every mile.
# 60% of the excavation through rock.
# More than 16,000,000 pounds of dynamite to move through 33,000,000 cubic yards of limestone, shale and earth.
# Over 2,000 different machines to complete the process.
# Almost 12,000,000 pounds of reinforcing steel.
# 381,800 square feet of guard raiRelated to:
- Road Trip
West Virginia D O T
The website for the West Virginia DOT is one of the worst I have encountered. Everything is splintered into district centered pieces without any comprehensive overall place for tourists to find information.
some of the more useful links I found were:
Maps and routing for each district: http://www.wvdot.com/16_siteindex/16_siteindex.htm#D
Weather and road conditions for major cities: http://www.wvdot.com/15_weather/15_weather.htmRelated to:
- Road Trip
The best and only way really...
The best and only way really to get here is by car. The state boasts poor bus facilities and no airports that regular commercial consumers would use. The highways are a little rough but I noticed some parts of the state are getting a much needed paving on those major interstates.
And again by car is the best. Also in some areas where rail-trails are big bicycling is a great way to get around.
Drive your own car. The buses...
Drive your own car. The buses stop in Pittsburg. Plus they love going on the back roads and make a six hour car ride into a sixteen hour horror ride!
Again. You will need a car because there is basically nothing around you so there will be a lot of travelling to the different towns.
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