Virginia Roads - US 13

US 13

Virginia gets inventive when naming rest areas, this by the NC border.

Either VA Secondary 616 or 647 West in far southern Virginia, in either Whaleyville or Nurneysville, courtesy Lou Corsaro.

An old alignment peeks out of the SB side embankment.

It would seem that the city of Suffolk likes small, misshapen shields and absolutely loves black backgrounds.

Keeping it strange on the US 13/VA 32 NB concurrency, first photo courtesy Lou Corsaro. Business US 13 continues the original routing into Suffolk proper (it merged with its county, so most of it is rural).

More of the tiny strange shields in downtown Suffolk, where Business US 13 turns right and lets VA 32 continue straight onto Business US 460, courtesy Lou Corsaro. It's not even correct, because Business US 58 and 460 also continue right on Business US 13, to meet all three parent routes on the trunkline into Chesapeake.

US 13 NB picks up US 58 EB on the west side of Suffolk, and they meet US 460 a few miles later. As bad as the mini-shield signs are, they're ridiculously inappropriate on a freeway.

All of these signs are on US 13 NB and US 58 EB, but US 460 just ducked off on Old Military Highway. US 13 ought to follow it, but it instead continues through the I-664 interchange and then turns at VA 191 to get back to where it could have been much sooner. The Inner Loop sign on the support for the big overhead gantry isn't all that necessary, but it should be helped.

The base of the SB offramp at the interchange where US 13 NB drops off US 460 EB, which then heads north on VA 161. I think the reason US 13 NB is signed off the SB ramp is for the one cluster of buildings on the SB side between here and I-464.

Northbound (heading east) just after US 460 has left US 13, toward Norfolk. I-464 isn't really US 17, but it does lead straight south into it. Also, US 17 North deserves equal billing (just remove the "South", really) because it's right there on I-64 EB.

SB through the same area, with equally old and/or non-cutout shields, but replacing the narrow NB ones with the bubble style. It looks especially ridiculous on a proper sign blank, as in the second photo.

US 13 NB approaching a wrong-way triplex, with of course some non-cutout shields (gotta catch 'em all!).

So I had no problem at all with the old shields, they were still nice and dark, so why replace them? Why replace them with these? These are Australian route shields, but in black and white. From where is the firm that created these?

Now US 13 is Northampton Blvd., and will be until these photos make it north to the Bridge-Tunnel. The I-64 sign is a bit confused about where it ends, with both the WEST BGS and the EXIT ONLY panel looking tacked on; the WEST and EAST sides are in fact the same sign, though that white border is deceptive.

That should be VA 225 SOUTH, not EAST, and the US 13 should be a little more assertive. Then, VA 225 South's problems continue, with a BGS that's not like the others. And what's up with the 1/3 advance warning? Both of those signs are courtesy Lou Corsaro. In the last photo, that should be a primary route shield, not a secondary - and last I checked, VA secondary shields didn't stretch for three- or four-digit routes anyway. All are northbound.

Virginia Beach, who I believe maintains all of US 13 within its borders, gets a little too creative with spacing on this northbound sign. Nothing is centered, the sign needs to be wider and have a divider - in fact, the sign needs to be two different signs. And the directions don't go inside the shields, no matter what you just smoked. This is marked as the last exit before the toll, which is a semi-lie because there is a U-turn coming up ahead. Now how would I know that...

After that U-turn and heading southbound, I came to first one more non-cutout, and then the sign I came all this way just to retake. These shields are completely unreflective at night, and the reflective surfaces of the signs and letters are badly beaten up. Although it was dusk, I had to avoid using flash for this photo, or else you wouldn't be able to see the ages-old cutouts that probably date from when the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel first opened from the Delmarva Peninsula.

After this southbound trailblazer comes an adventurous 17-mile long crossing of the mouth of the Chesapeake Bay. With it, US 13 has helped open up the Delmarva Peninsula, and especially Norfolk/Virginia Beach, to beachgoing travelers from the north and south. Due to the naval base to the west, as well as the economic importance of the Chesapeake and its tributaries, 13 tunnels underneath two shipping channels, deep enough to permit all military seagoing craft (including submarines). But since tunnels are expensive, 13 rises back out of the water between them, and on either end. US 13's bridges were recently dualized, and there are plans to add second tunnels once funds arrive, to turn the bridge from a Super-2 freeway to a full four-lane affair (passing is good). Since the opening of the dualized sections, there have been yearly bridge walks/bikes, with traffic confined to one side or the other on the north and south bridges. There is a gift shop at I believe the southern portal of the southern tunnel, where you can park on either side and even cross the road and turn around. This has to be the only bridge in North America that has a gift shop (or any commercial venture, for that matter) directly on it.

Courtesy Jim Dietrich, the entrances to the two tunnels, done with original lettering. Thimble Shoal is the southern channel, closer to the naval base, while Chesapeake is the northern channel for ships heading up the bay.

Again from Jim, this is exiting from Thimble Shoal Channel Tunnel SB. The original (now NB) bridge is to the left, while the new (SB) twin span veers to the right.

Lou Corsaro heads southbound on the newer of the two Bridge-Tunnel spans, with NB traffic on the old two-way trestle, and into the two tunnels (the second photo being in Thimble Shoal).

The fat one with wide numbers is newer than the skinny (2-digit width) one with narrow numbers. Since you can't see in the night, this was taken southbound. In Virginia, there are almost no traffic lights on US 13, because there just isn't enough traffic going anywhere except to or from the Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel.

Onto US 460 and US 13/460

Into North Carolina on US 13
Into Maryland on US 13
Onto US 58
Onto I-664
Onto I-64
Onto I-264
Onto VA 166
Onto I-464
To US 17
Onto VA 165
Onto US 60
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