U.S. Route 50 in Virginia
U.S. Route 50 (US 50) is a transcontinental highway which stretches from Ocean City, Maryland to West Sacramento, California. In the U.S. state of Virginia, US 50 extends 86 miles (138 km) from the border with Washington, D.C. at a Potomac River crossing at Rosslyn in Arlington County to the West Virginia state line near Gore in Frederick County.
|Maintained by VDOT|
|Length||85.96 mi (138.34 km)|
|West end||US 50 at West Virginia border near Capon Bridge, WV|
| SR 37 in Winchester|
SR 27 in Arlington
|East end||I-66 / US 50 at Washington, D.C. border in Arlington|
|Counties||Frederick, City of Winchester, Clarke, Fauquier, Loudoun, Fairfax, City of Fairfax, Arlington|
US 50, also known in modern times for most of its mileage in Virginia as the John Mosby Highway and for a part as Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway, is steeped in history as a travelway. Native Americans first created it as they followed seasonally migrating game from the Potomac River to the Shenandoah Valley. As English colonists expanded westward in the late 17th and 18th centuries, the Indian trail gradually became a more clearly defined roadway. First on horseback, and then in stage coaches and wagons, in colonial times, travelers from the ports of Alexandria and Georgetown (then in Maryland) followed it to Winchester at the lower end of the Shenandoah Valley for trade. Along the way, small settlements sprang up which provided lodging and provisions for travelers and trade centers for local farmers.
During the American Civil War, the roads which became US 50 were an important travelway for troops, and were the site of significant battles and skirmishes. Among these, the Battle of Chantilly, the Battle of Aldie, as well as Arlington National Cemetery were all located close by.
During the 19th century, the Virginia Board of Public Works encouraged and helped finance internal transportation improvements such as canals, turnpikes, and some of the earlier railroads. In 1806, the Little River Turnpike opened 34 miles (55 km) of macadamized "paved" road from Alexandria to Aldie and the Aldie and Ashby's Gap Turnpike was formed in 1810 to operate a toll road westward to the crest of the Blue Ridge Mountains at Ashby's Gap. The Winchester and Berry's Ferry Turnpike extended from the Ashby's Gap to Winchester.
In 1922, these three privately owned turnpikes were taken over by the Commonwealth of Virginia and became State Route 36. Then in November 1926 the route became part of US Route 50 as designated in the United States Numbered Highway System. At Winchester, the northern end of the Valley Pike, another historic trail, turnpike and toll road pathway steeped in history, intersected US 50 and several other important older roads. (The Valley Pike ran up the Shenandoah Valley southward and was operated in its later years by future Virginia governor and U.S. Senator Harry Flood Byrd before it too was acquired by the state and became U.S. Route 11).
US Route 50 was one of the major east–west transcontinental highways in the grid system of the lower 48 states planned in the 1920s as a successor to the National Auto Trails System. It extended from San Francisco, California to Annapolis, Maryland (later extended to Ocean City, Maryland). Route 50 crosses Virginia near the state's northern borders with Maryland and West Virginia. The east–west major routes in the 1920s national grid system were those with two digit numbers ending with a zero (i.e. US 10, US 20, etc.). Virginia's other east–west highway of this type is US 60, which extends in modern times from Virginia Beach across the middle section of the state to exit west of Covington.
The eastern two-thirds of US 50 in Virginia is substantially paralleled by Interstate 66, although the newer highway gradually diverges to the south after their Fairfax interchange to Front Royal and meets Interstate 81 at Strasburg, about 15 miles (24 km) south of Winchester, where US 50 meets I-81.
Frederick County and WinchesterEdit
U.S. Route 50 enters the state from the West Virginia border, descending from the Appalachian Mountains in Frederick County, the most northern Virginia county, and carrying the name of Northwest Turnpike. It is on a winding, two lane road until it passes the former lumbering town of Gore, at which point it widens to a four-lane highway. It eventually crosses State Route 37 and enters the independent city of Winchester.
Winchester was long the transportation hub of the lower Shenandoah Valley in Virginia. Today, US 50 meets Interstate 81 there, as well as US 11, US 522, and State Route 7. U.S. Route 17 joins US 50 here from its national northern terminus as the route exits the city to the east and crosses the Shenandoah River.
Paris, Ashby Gap, Clarke CountyEdit
After crossing the Shenandoah River, the divided four-laned roadway which serves as combined U.S. Routes 17 and 50 ascends into Clarke County and crosses US 340 close to Boyce <Google Maps,State of Va.>, a few miles south of Berryville, the county seat.
Just west of Paris, the highway crosses a ridge of the Blue Ridge Mountains at a place known as Ashby Gap. Named for Thomas Ashby, this wind gap was a strategic point for both sides in the American Civil War because whichever side controlled the Gap also controlled access to the northern end of the Shenandoah Valley from the east. In those days before modern communications, Ashbys Gap was also an important location for the military Signal Corps to send and receive visual communications. A few miles west of Upperville, U.S. Route 17 finally separates from US 50 at Paris.
Fauquier and Loudoun countiesEdit
West of Fairfax County, US 50 in Virginia is generally known as the John Mosby Highway. During the American Civil War, Colonel John Singleton Mosby was a Confederate partisan who operated with great success in this region, gaining status as a local folk-hero. The roadway reaches the Town of Upperville, straddles a county line and dipping into Loudoun County along the way. It then passes into the northern edge of Fauquier County.
In Loudoun County, the highway passes across the southeastern portion through the Town of Middleburg, and the communities of Aldie (birthplace of Stonewall Jackson's mother, Julia Beckwith Neale), Gilberts Corner, Arcola, and South Riding. Near Gilberts Corner, it has an intersection with US 15. Starting in Aldie, the highway becomes a 17-mile straightaway until it intersects U.S. 29 in Fairfax City.
Fairfax County, City of Fairfax, Arlington CountyEdit
Continuing east from the border with Loudoun County, US 50 travels along the historic Little River Turnpike route. It passes by the southern edge of Washington Dulles International Airport and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center and through the communities of Chantilly and Fair Oaks.
Shortly after entering the independent city of Fairfax, US 50 leaves the Little River Turnpike route (which continues as Virginia State Route 236) and joins a concurrency with US 29 as Fairfax Boulevard (a new designation, concurrent with the old names Main Street, Lee Highway, and Arlington Boulevard). US 29 splits from US 50 again just before exiting the City of Fairfax.
From this point east into eastern Fairfax County and Arlington County, US 50 is known as Arlington Boulevard. The roadway travels roughly across the center of both counties. In Arlington, it serves as the dividing line for addresses in the county. Finally, the route passes near Rosslyn, a high-density business area of Arlington on its trek toward the Theodore Roosevelt Bridge, where it exits Virginia and passes into Washington, D.C. concurrent with Interstate 66.
|Frederick||||0.00||0.00||US 50 west – Romney||Continuation into West Virginia|
|||2.97||4.78||SR 259 south (Carpers Pike) – Wardensville||Northern terminus of SR 259|
|Hayfield||8.01||12.89||SR 600 (Hayfield Road) – Gainesboro, Mountain Falls|
|||11.40||18.35||SR 608 (Wardensville Grade) – Mount Williams|
SR 37 to I-81 / US 11 / US 522 north – Martinsburg, Berkeley Springs, Roanoke
|City of Winchester||16.30||26.23||US 11 north / US 522 north / US 17 south (South Cameron Street)||Western end of US 11 / US 522 / US 17 concurrency; northern terminus of US 17|
|16.69||26.86||US 11 south (Gerrard Street) – Winchester Historic District||Eastern end of US 11 concurrency|
|Frederick||||17.89||28.79||I-81 – Martinsburg, Roanoke||I-81 exit 313|
|||18.02||29.00||US 522 south (Front Royal Pike) – Winchester Regional Airport, Front Royal||Eastern end of US 522 concurrency|
|Clarke||Waterloo||25.12||40.43||US 340 (Lord Fairfax Highway) – Berryville, White Post, Front Royal, Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive|
|||27.95||44.98||SR 255 north (Bishop Meade Road) / SR 624 (Red Gate Road) – Millwood||Southern terminus of SR 255|
|||31.63||50.90||SR 606 (Mount Carmel Road)||Former SR 276 north|
US 17 south to I-66 – Warrenton, Sky Meadows State Park
|Eastern end of US 17 concurrency|
|Upperville||37.85||60.91||SR 712 (Delaplane Grade Road) – Delaplane|
|||42.77||68.83||SR 611 (St. Louis Road) – Purcellville|
|Loudoun||Middleburg||46.14||74.26||SR 626 (Plains Road) – The Plains|
|Aldie||50.83||81.80||SR 734 (Snickersville Pike) – Philomont, Bluemont|
|Gilberts Corner||52.53||84.54|| |
US 15 (James Monroe Highway) to I-66 – Leesburg, Warrenton
Howsers Branch Drive to US 15
|South Riding||58.75||94.55||SR 606 (Loudoun County Parkway) – Herndon|
|Fairfax||Pleasant Valley||61.68||99.26||SR 609 (Pleasant Valley Road)|
|Chantilly||63.57||102.31||SR 28 – Dulles Airport, Centreville||Interchange|
|64.06||103.09||SR 657 (Centreville Road / Walney Road)|
|65.13||104.82||SR 645 (Lees Corner Road)||Western end of SR 645 concurrency|
|65.59||105.56||SR 645 (Stringfellow Road)||Eastern end of SR 645 concurrency|
|Greenbriar–Fair Oaks line||66.94||107.73|| |
SR 286 (Fairfax County Parkway) to I-66
|Fair Oaks||68.05||109.52||SR 608 (West Ox Road)||Interchange|
|Fair Oaks Shopping Center||Interchange; no westbound entrance|
I-66 to I-495 – Washington, Gainesville, Front Royal
|I-66 exit 57A/B|
SR 665 (Waples Mill Road) to SR 123 south – Virginia International University, George Mason University
|City of Fairfax||70.00||112.65|
|70.60||113.62||US 29 south (Lee Highway) / SR 236 east (Main Street) – Old Town Fairfax||Western end of US 29 concurrency, western terminus of SR 236|
SR 123 (Chain Bridge Road) to I-66 – Old Town Fairfax, George Mason University
US 29 / SR 237 north (Lee Highway) to I-66 / Old Lee Highway
|Fairfax Circle (traffic circle with cut-through); eastern end of US 29 concurrency, western end of SR 237 concurrency|
SR 237 south (Pickett Road) to SR 236 east / SR 655 (Blake Lane)
|Eastern end of SR 237 concurrency|
|Fairfax||Woodburn–Merrifield line||75.83||122.04|| |
SR 650 (Gallows Road) to I-495 Express – Merrifield
|Interchange; serves Inova Fairfax Hospital|
West Falls Church tripoint
I-495 (Capital Beltway) to I-66 – Tysons Corner, Richmond
|Interchange; exits 50A-B on I-495|
|West Falls Church–Annandale line||76.57||123.23|| |
Fairview Park Drive to I-495 Express south / US 29 (Lee Highway)
|Interchange; signed for I-495 westbound and US 29 eastbound|
|West Falls Church||78.71||126.67||SR 649 (Annandale Road) – Falls Church, Annandale|
|Seven Corners||79.73||128.31|| |
SR 7 to SR 338 – Falls Church, Alexandria
|Interchange; also serves SR 613 and East Falls Church station|
|Arlington||Arlington||81.32||130.87||Carlin Springs Road||Interchange|
|82.50||132.77||George Mason Drive – NFATC||Interchange|
|82.85||133.33||SR 120 (Glebe Road) – Ballston||Interchange|
SR 27 east (Washington Boulevard) to I-395 – Clarendon, Pentagon
|Interchange; western terminus of SR 27|
|10th Street North (SR 237 south) / North Courthouse Road / Fairfax Drive||Interchange; eastern terminus of SR 237|
|Rosslyn||85.00||136.79||North Rhodes Street / North Rolfe Street / North Queen Street / 14th Street / Fairfax Drive||Interchange; no westbound entrance|
|85.40||137.44||North Lynn Street – Key Bridge, Rosslyn, Fort Myer||Interchange; also serves North Meade Street|
|85.60||137.76||Memorial Bridge / George Washington Parkway south – Arlington Cemetery||Interchange; eastbound exit and westbound entrance|
|Potomac River||85.96||138.34|| |
US 50 east to I-66 east (Theodore Roosevelt Bridge) – Washington
|Continuation into the District of Columbia|
|1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi|
- "2011 Traffic Data". Virginia Department of Transportation. 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2013.
- Google (January 25, 2013). "U.S. Route 50 in Virginia" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved January 25, 2013.
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