Virginia Roads - US 421/11E/11W/19/58

US 421, US 58/421, US 11W/421, US 11E/19/421

When I started this page, US 421 came into Bristol from the Tennessee side on Pennsylvania Avenue and then followed the following progression: State Street west four blocks, Randall Street north one block, Cumberland Street west four blocks, Piedmont Avenue south one long block, Goode St. west four blocks, and Commonwealth Ave./US 11E/US 19/VA 381 to get to Euclid Ave./US 11W (and a wrong-way duplex). You can probably do better by looking at a map, or indeed, simply by sticking pins in random street names in an alphabetical directory of Bristol. At the very least, why can't traffic just stay on Cumberland once it gets there? TN and VA finally realized this and kept US 421 in TN (on Anderson St.) until joining US 11E/19, so now it's just Commonwealth Ave. for US 421. The original route took US 421 onto State Street, the dividing line between the states and thus the most popular tourist drag in town, but at least the most direct connection across the city. For that reason alone, it makes sense to avoid the center of town, but the simpler a route, the easier it is to follow, and if a dedicated road enthusiast like Lou Corsaro couldn't even figure out where to go in Bristol, what hope did your average traveler have?

US 11E/19/421 SB and the southern end of VA 381, and one of the only times you need state names on a street sign.

State Street, former US 421, eastbound (thus technically on the Tennessee side), courtesy Lou Corsaro. The old signal hangs just north of the state line at 17th St., and the welcome sign is just past Pennsylvania Ave.

US 421 NB makes one of several turns in Bristol and picks up a wrong-way Truck route concurrency. 421 NB turns from State St. onto Randall St., then joins VA 113 on Cumberland St., then inexplicably comes back south on Piedmont Ave. to Goode St. before joining US 11E/19 on Commonwealth Ave. I think this is where 421 turns onto Piedmont, where it ought to continue straight on Cumberland.

US 421 SB/US 11W NB at VA 381, which becomes I-381 (spiffy 2di-width shield there), courtesy H.B. Elkins. Even if "Route" is unnecessary, I forgive this sign, but VDOT wasn't as kind, because it's sadly gone now. This intersection is where US 11W and 11E meet to form US 11 once again.

US 421/11E (and 19/VA 381) NB approaching the same spot, with the stretched sign at Highland Ave. courtesy Lou Corsaro.

The other direction on 421/11E/19, which also carries wrong-way truck routes for added complexity.

US 421 NB now turns and picks up US 11W for a short while, second photo courtesy Lou Corsaro. The duplex is about to reach the Tennessee border in the first photo, where US 421 splits and remain in Virginia to the second photo and a repeat of the non-cutout shield.

An old BGS greets travelers in the opposite direction, US 421 SB. Making a right immediately puts you into TN, heading almost due west on north-south US 11W, while following US 421 keeps you in VA for another mile or two around Bristol.

US 421 SB and US 11W NB, Lee Hwy. It's heading northward, but who's surprised US 421 is going backwards? The US shield fonts look like someone didn't want to pay (or spend time looking) for the correct one, or for the pattern for a 3-digit width shield for pretty much anything. That theme continues to the overhead sign, where whoever designed the signs should be banned from engineering and whoever applied the numbers should be paid enough to care (or also banned from engineering). The only bright spots are the borders and the down arrow. Oh, and can we talk about junctioning US 19 twice? Nah, I think we've got enough to solve before we broach that.

NB after leaving US 11W at Midway St., which heads back into Tennessee, courtesy Lou Corsaro. Better to keep all the crazies on that side, says Virginia.

Some squeezing involved - why not just use the proper three-digit shield? US 58 leaves US 421 here to jump north without the headaches of traffic lights, also from Lou.

US 58 EB/US 421 SB leave Scott County.

WB/NB at Old Ridge Rd. (SR 703), unsurprisingly an old alignment of Ridge Rd., which is unsurprisingly US 58/421.

NB/WB on the US 421/58 duplex across the North Fork Holston River east of Weber City, courtesy Lou Corsaro.

US 23 and US 421/58/23
Onto US 58 alone

Onto plain US 11

Into Tennessee on US 421
Into Kentucky on US 421
Onto US 19
Onto VA/I-381
Onto I-81
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