Alps' Roads Special - Detroit Road Meet

Detroit Road Meet, January 2, 2010

What better New Years' gift than a meet? Well, it didn't start all that auspiciously as I fought through a raging snowstorm down US 202 into PA to get to US 322 and head west. I almost gave up, but pressed on and the snow finally started to clear as I made my way to State College. The route then continued as planned: into Ohio to OH 11, OH 82 and old 82 in Warren, continuing on 11 to I-80 and then I-76. I did the requisite Akron loops: I-77 to I-277 and back to 76, OH 59 to OH 8 and again back to 76, then continued west to US 224. I then made my way up US 250 to Norwalk and out old US 20 to the stub end of the bypass that carries 20 and would have carried 250. I followed US 20 west to OH 51 through Toledo to US 23 to Michigan. That night, I stayed in Grand Rapids, reached via I-94 to US 131.
The next day included an extended tour of Grand Rapids that was only partially roads-oriented. The route started with a shoreline loop of US 131, M-6, I-196 and Business 196 in Zeeland-Holland, US 31, and I-96. I then explored Grand Rapids by U-turning at M-37/44, I-196 back to M-6, US 131 NB (secretly I-296), I-96 east to M-6 west, and on into Grand Rapids along Business I-196 and Business US 131. That night, there was a pre-meet dinner for Grand Rapids area enthusiasts and their friends.
The next morning, I headed to the meet with one of those enthusiasts. We started by clinching M-11, then continued to former US 16 (Cascade Rd., but mostly known as Grand River Ave.), including Business I-96 in Lansing, to M-59 and M-1 for another pair of clinches. We then proceeded to the meet via I-94 to I-96 to Brann's Steakhouse on 6 Mile Rd. There assembled the group seen in the meet photo below, which was taken after lunch when we all headed to the Gateway Project, a collection of new ramps and bridges linking I-75 to the international Ambassador Bridge. The route was I-96/I-275 to M-5, Middlebelt Rd., past some state-name I-96 shields in Livonia, and on 96 to the Gateway Project.

The assembled crowd, in single-digit temperatures with unfathomable wind chills, consisted of Sam Scholtens, Brian Rawson-Ketchum, Dan Garnell (meet host), myself, Brian Reynolds, Ryan Pooya, Howard Goldman, and Larry Harvilla.

Our first views of the new Bagley St. pedestrian overpass and the Ambassador Bridge behind it, from the I-75 frontage road and Vernor Highway.

Closer views of Bagley St. There's some strange concrete decorative wall visually extending the bridge abutment in an unnecessary manner.

The Mexicantown Welcome Center (spliced from two photos - sorry to the man whose foot disappeared in the process) is obviously a takeover of a former building, because this is hardly the welcome you would like to show as your best foot forward. Across the street, completed ramps lie in wait of the eventual interchange completion. The competing desires of one particular monomaniac have kept the ramps closed many months past that point with litigation and attempts to build his own bridge without approval. Yes, rare is the man who can afford to flout authority with multi-million dollar projects. In fact, they usually star as comic book villains, but the villains have better monomaniacal tendencies than bridge-building.

More views of the construction and the bridge that stands to benefit from it. The letters still light up.

After the chilly stop, the tour headed back west onto I-94 to see a local street near M-39 once also used as a freeway ramp and for another view of the new bridges and interchange at US 24. We continued north on 24 through the narrow US 12 interchange to the complex M-10/I-696 interchange, west on 696, and back to Brann's. It must have been the weather, maybe combined with the early sunset, but there was no after-meet excursion this year and we parted. My route returned east on 696 to I-94 east and back down M-3 all the way to Detroit where I'd left off previously. I then followed I-75 as far as it would go, with only one detour to loop around I-675, and stayed the night in 0-degree (Fahrenheit) weather in Sault Ste. Marie.
It didn't warm up before at least noon the next day. By that point, I had crossed the border, made my way to Highway 17 and down Highway 69 to Highway 400. Oh, I should add that snow had returned, and combined with Sunday midday traffic for a unique Toronto experience. At least people up there know how to drive in snow, or I'd never have made it home in one day. After crossing Highway 401, I came back to 401 via Eglinton Ave. to Allen Rd., then took the Don Valley Parkway to the Gardiner Expwy. into the QEW. I followed the Queen's highway to Red Hill Valley Parkway and Lincoln M. Alexander Parkway (one road, but built separately) and back to Her Majesty once more. Running short on time due to the snow, I skipped my Niagara Falls plans and stayed on the QEW straight into the United States over the Peace Bridge. The rest of my route back home: I-190, NY 198, NY 33, I-90 (NY Thruway), NY 96 (at the eastern I-490 exit), through some more snow to NY 17, and into Hancock to get to PA 191. I cut back home on I-80 to New Jersey, saving the rest of 191 for a later trip. And I survived the snow.

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