Somehow I just stumbled across this list of “50 Interstate Oddities.” It’s a few years old, so some of the information is probably out of date, but as a road trip enthusiast and Google Maps addict, I found plenty of notes to send me off searching and mapping for awhile. (For the record, I have first-hand familiarity with several of the interstate oddities on the list, including I-4 in Florida, I-76 here in Ohio, I-17 in Arizona, the I-70/55/64 convergence in St. Louis, and, in fact, the top place-holder, Interstate 70’s bizarre gap in Breezewood, Pa.)
I admit that I was a bit disappointed that it doesn’t include one of my favorite interstate oddities.
I’ve been a regular passenger and driver on I-77 for most of my life: It connects Stark County with Akron and Cleveland to the north, and to the south, it runs through West Virginia, Virginia, and North Carolina before coming to an end in Columbia, S.C. Through growing up in Northeast Ohio, family vacations, and seven years spent living in (and driving to and from) Orlando, I am extremely familiar with the entire length of I-77.
Near Wytheville, Virginia, I-77 overlaps with I-81 for nine miles or so in a highway quirk that I just learned is called a wrong-way concurrency: The I-77 southbound lanes are the northbound lanes of I-81, and vice versa. Ever since I was old enough to start really paying attention to the highway routes, this has amused me.
Something else I realized thanks to the list: There are just three single-digit-designated U.S. interstates, and in the summer of 2010, I traveled on all of them. (I’m not counting the single-digit interstates in Alaska and Hawaii: They bear letters in addition to their digits, and they’re outside the contiguous 48 states.)
That June, during my Ohio-to-California-and-back road trip, I took Interstate 8 across southwest Arizona – stopping briefly on Tatooine – to San Diego, and covered some of the same highway on the trip back home. While I was in California, I drove from San Diego up to Los Angeles for a day, mostly on Interstate 5. (It was surprisingly easy while I was there to fall into the habit of referring to numbered roadways using “the.” As in “Take the 5 all the way to the 8…” I’ve always used the “I” construct (“Take I-77”) for interstates and “Route” for numbered roads that aren’t interstates. “Take I-77 to Route 30,” etc. Anyway…) Two months later, Kelsey and I went to Orlando to visit Jim for Star Wars Celebration V, and while I didn’t actually drive that week, I know there were at least a few moments spent on Interstate 4.
Another road trip note from 2010: That March, I drove to PAX East in Boston, which, added to my San Diego trip, means I did a coast-to-coast freeway trek that year, albeit one with a couple-month break in the middle.
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