So, I'd like to wish everyone a happy new year, and because I can't think of anything else to say, let's start the final update of this arc.
The last section of the Capital Beltway will seem rather short. After all, most of it is already in the form of I-5 and the section of the Beltway between I-1 and I-2. It also means that except for the interchange with Rt. 7, the I-5/601 split, the section between I-2 and I-5, and minor modifications to the Beltway/I-2 interchange, this section is built in its entirety.
These last set of exits have three sets of possible numbers. If you’ve been paying attention, you’ll’ve noted that there were four options and four combinations of those options and three sets of exit numbers shouldn’t make sense. Well, it does, because two of those combinations end up at the same number.
After I-601 joins I-5 wherever (depending on which options you choose; more on that later) one would assume that more traffic would equal a need for more than 2 lanes. Well, that might not be necessarily true. The region’s development thus far has been vastly uneven, which means areas only miles outside places like the capital are empty or lightly settled, and traffic is light enough so that I-601 and I-5 would probably be reduced to one lane each in the merge.
I-5 crosses a rail line, which will be the continuation of Pararail’s Cyan Line when the town of Woodbine requests a station. With the signing of I-601 and the extension of the Cyan Line pending, this crossing will need to be grade separated. There’s not much to explain here though. Overpass, no level crossing. Questions?
Currently an at-grade junction because the low traffic levels on I-5, this exit is slated to be upgraded to a diamond, the very minimum needed for interstate standards. The definite widening of the stretch of multiplex would start here, which means the bridges to the south of here would need to be replaced with wider bridges. Of course engineering difficulties mean that bridge with an odd number of lanes or and, for one-way networks, anything over 2 lanes, is impossible for some reason. 2 lanes, sure, 4, fine, 6, cool. But 5 lanes, holy crap, call in the scientists, we got a problem here. But that’s a problem for another thread/team *cough*NAM Team*cough*.
This recently built interchange is not going to be rebuilt, obviously. But there will be some widening efforts here, as development to the south is expected to creep east soon. This interchange is with the old road, Rt. 4, connecting Woodbine and Norwood to the new freeway, Rt. 33/the GER, which partially terminates here before ending at a T with a soon to be numbered route, probably 15.
This is where the I-5/I-601 multiplex ends. This is just one of the two options for this interchange. The other is basically a mirror image of exit 14/15 in option 2b. The only reason there isn’t a definite decision for a partial or full interchange is because of the partial interchange where I-2 joins I-5 for a short time and it’s assumed these two forks could be considered a pair.
This last stretch of Beltway is a straight shot, and so not important enough for a picture, passing north of Schulm Air Force Base (recently renamed due to confusion as to what ‘force’ the base was for). There are no plans for an exit here now, but the Department of Defense is looking into whether it would be needed later on, but previous communications have indicated it’s probably going to happen. This would be the region’s first military-only exit. It looks like the Transit Department is going to have to come up with new signage.
Exit 21/22/23 A, B(cw) A, B, C(ccw):
The interchange with I-2 is only half finished now that the plan for extending the beltway appears to be getting the green light. This interchange (which will be complex enough to get a name now) will be getting a fourth side and all the ramps associated with that side. Of course, the existing interchange was only ever a temporary setup in the first place, but only a small portion is being destroyed. There are possibly plans to have more ramps from I-601 to exclusively access the air force base, but once again, like with the I-5 interchange, plans aren’t definite, and probably won’t be needed, especially if exit 20/21/22 is constructed.
The last three exits you have already seen, as they are Phase I, but I’ll indulge you again.
Exit 21/22/23 C(cw), 23/24/25 B(ccw) :
The partial interchange with Airport Expwy. Weaved in between two interchanges so close, it doesn’t even get its own number, instead borrowing from the two surrounding it. It does its job well though, linking the new expressway to the airport with people from the southwest of the capital, although the west-north slips are going to need widening soon.
Exit 23/24/25 [A(ccw)]:
A standard diamond interchange with Rt. 6, partially seen in this picture, slightly complicated by the slips from Airport Expwy joining in on the west side.
The nation’s only SPUI with Government Pkwy, which used to be NH 3 this far south, until the Transit Department realized it had made an error on the map between the bypass and the line the beltway now occupies. Problem was, the signs for the Beltway were made with this error, so they were pretty embarrassed at that.
So at this point we’ve come full circle as the phrase is said. That’s the beltway. Now when you’ve unstuck your face from the table and wiped the drool off your face, please note the poll. It’s time to decide. First of all whether you think the beltway should be built, and if so, what options. Of course, if you have any other ideas, by all means, choose other and let us know. We live to serve, and lay down massive strips of asphalt and concrete.
I do hope you enjoyed this arc that lasted much longer than it prolly should have. As a bonus, I’ve mapped out our hypothetical trip for you to enjoy and depending on the options picked, will show it again later.