Alps' Roads Special - Ashland Road Meet

Ashland Road Meet, April 6, 2013

Ashland was my opportunity to see a part of the country I'd never visited before. This was also known as the "Tri-State Road Meet," focusing on Ashland, KY; Huntington, WV; and Ironton, OH. I focused on the Ohio River and... you'll see. I left New Jersey on I-78 into PA to I-81, quickly getting myself through MD and WV into Virginia, then headed east on US 33 to Richmond, along with VA 33, Monument Ave., and Broad St.. Why east? I wanted to get to the beginning of US 250, on and around which I would be spending the rest of my day. Diversions included Business US 250 in Charlottesville, VA 240, and Business US 11 in Staunton, before I entered West Virginia on US 250. I stayed with 250 on its various concurrencies, except a brief diversion on WV 92 where I'd already traveled 250 (via US 219 clinching). I threw in a clinch of WV 891, and once I got to the Ohio River, that was the end of the US 250 phase and the start of the WV 2 phase.

Random boundary post along WV 891.

Over the course of Friday evening and Saturday morning, I stuck with WV 2 as far as I could, while also getting my jollies along the Ohio River: Moundsville Bridge, New Martinsville Bridge, Hi Carpenter Bridge, and the Parkersburg-Belpre Bridge all on the first day, along with driving most of WV 68 (former WV 2). I poked around the east end of OH 32 and checked out various views of the Parkersburg Memorial Toll Bridge before retiring for the night. The next day, I finished WV 68, drove a bit of WV 14 and secret WV 14 Alt. in Parkersburg, then rejoined the trail of WV 2 along the river (after backtracking along I-77 for clinch purposes). The second day's bridges included Ravenswood Bridge on US 33, Silver Memorial Bridge on US 35, and the East Huntington Bridge on OH 775 before I ran out of WV 2 to follow, with clinches of WV 193 and WV 101 thrown in the mix. From there to the meet, I followed US 60, with a detour to check out WV 527 and the Robert C. Byrd Bridge into Ohio for the OH 7 stub. (This was also on the meet, so I got ahead of myself.) Once I crossed back into West Virginia on US 52, it was US 60 into Kentucky, joining US 23 to Ashland and the meet location.

The meet started out on the Simeon Willis Bridge to Ohio, down US 52 to the OH 7 stub I had just visited. I did see it more in depth this time, at least. The meet then continued on OH 7 to Lawrence CR 107, which is original OH 7, then back around to the East Huntington Bridge but in the opposite direction I had gone. The meet circled onto WV 2 north to WV 193, a four-lane highway that looks like it wants to cross the Ohio River, down to I-64 and west to US 52/WV 75, a short length of WV "freeway" (with grade crossings) that may one day become part of I-73/I-74 with a lot of work. I'm not holding my breath. We explored the stub at the south end and had ourselves an ironic meet photo:

Starting at left: Ed Szuba and son, Brian Powell, Mike Tantillo, Michael Temme-Soifer, Keith Thomas, Mike Pruett, myself kneeling, Brian Reynolds, Laura Bianca, Sandor Gulyas, Cody Goodman, Tim Brown, H.B. Elkins (the host, but declined to kneel), Doug Kerr, Sam Scholtens, and A.J. Bertin. Not pictured and possibly wishing I hadn't tagged him: Shawn DeCesari.

The tour went back to I-64, returning to Kentucky to see KY 67, a wide 2-lane road with obvious widening potential. From there, US 23 north took participants to the Greenup Locks and Dam at the east end of KY 10. The meet crossed into Ohio and headed south on US 52 to Ironton, the last area of interest. While there, we saw the old Highway 75 tunnel along OH 93, several old signs and signals throughout Ironton, and the old Ironton-Russell Bridge, now just a faded memory as construction was already underway for its replacement. After exploring the old bridge on foot, we crossed it into KY to poke around Russell on KY 244 and KY 2543 before heading back into Ironton once more to see construction of the new Ironton-Russell Bridge.
The meet returned to Ashland through Ironton to US 52 and across the Ben Williamson Bridge. That was the tour, but Shawn had a surprise for us all. For a post-meet, he led us west on US 60 to KY 1 south to an ancient, barebones truss on its old alignment, Gollihue Rd. After gawking at that, we all headed back to the agreed-upon meet dinner our separate ways. My separate way was back up KY 1 to KY 773, KY 3306, and the Oldtown Covered Bridge, before returning to Ashland on US 23. Unfortunately, my health took a turn for the worse overnight, but I had promised Tim to drive him back to Cincinnati, and I am a man of my word. Fighting my illness the whole way, I clinched KY 9 (AA Highway) back to where I had left off, thus also clinching KY 154, and into Cinci on KY 8 to I-471. I headed east on US 50 to OH 125, taking me back to US 52 near Portsmouth. That gave me a couple more bridges to see - Carl Perkins Bridge and the U.S. Grant Bridge on US 23 - along with a chance to explore Lawrence CR 1, an old alignment of US 52 and OH 7. Once I rejoined OH 7, with fading daylight and stamina, it was a straight clinch up to I-70 through WV into PA and the fastest free way home from there: I-79, I-376, US 22, I-99, I-80 back into New Jersey. I arrived half a day late on sick leave, but I made it home from an exhausting but rewarding meet, and as a bonus, I don't appear to have infected anyone there. What's the true meaning of friendship if not that?

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