U.S. Route 50 in Virginia

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U.S. Route 50 marker

U.S. Route 50
Route information
Maintained by VDOT
Length86.0 mi[1][2] (138.3 km)
Existed1926–present
Major junctions
West end US 50 near Capon Bridge, WV
  SR 37 in Winchester

US 17 / US 522 in Winchester
I-81 in Winchester
US 340 near Boyce
US 15 at Gilberts Corner
I-66 near Fairfax Fair Oaks Mall
US 29 in Fairfax

I-495 in Annandale
East end I‑66 / US 50 in Arlington Washington DC
Location
CountiesFrederick, City of Winchester, Clarke, Fauquier, Loudoun, Fairfax, City of Fairfax, Arlington
Highway system
SR 49SR 51

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 DC at a Potomac River crossing at Rosslyn in Arlington County to the West Virginia state line near Gore in Frederick County.

History[edit]

U.S. Route 50, also known in modern times for most of its mileage in Virginia as the John Mosby Highway and for a part as the Lee-Jackson 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.

Route description[edit]

The eastern two-thirds of US 50 in Virginia is substantially paralleled by Interstate 66, although the newer highway gradually diverges to the south 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 Winchester[edit]

U.S. Route 50 enters the state from the West Virginia border, descending from the Appalachian Mountains in Frederick County, the most northwestern 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 County[edit]

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.

View east along US 50 at SR 629 in Stoke, Loudoun County

Fauquier and Loudoun counties[edit]

View east along US 50 from SR 28 in Chantilly

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. 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 County[edit]

Continuing east from the border with Loudoun County, US 50 travels along the historic Little River Turnpike route; west of the City of Fairfax it is designated and signed Lee-Jackson Memorial Highway. 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. US 50 passes through the independent city of Fairfax as Fairfax Boulevard (a new designation, concurrent with the old names Main Street, Lee Highway, and Arlington Boulevard). In Arlington, it serves as the dividing line for addresses in the county. Known in Arlington County and in eastern Fairfax County as Arlington Boulevard, the roadway travels roughly across the center of both counties. 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.

Major intersections[edit]

CountyLocationmi[1]kmDestinationsNotes
Frederick0.000.00 US 50 west – RomneyContinuation into West Virginia
SR 259 south (Carpers Pike) – WardensvilleNorthern terminus of SR 259
Hayfield SR 600 (Hayfield Road) – Gainesboro, Mountain Falls
SR 608 (Wardensville Grade) – Mount Williams
14.3923.16 SR 37 to I-81 / US 11 / US 522 north – Martinsburg, Berkeley Springs, RoanokeInterchange
City of Winchester16.4026.39 US 11 / US 522 northWestern end of US 11 / US 522 / US 17 concurrency, northern terminus of US 17
16.7927.02 US 11 south (Gerrard Street)Eastern end of US 11 concurrency
Frederick17.7428.55 I-81 – Martinsburg, RoanokeI-81 exit 313
17.9028.81 US 522 south (Front Royal Pike) – Airport, Front RoyalEastern end of US 522 concurrency
ClarkeWaterloo25.0040.23 US 340 (Lord Fairfax Highway) – Berryville, White Post, Front Royal, Shenandoah National Park, Skyline Drive
27.8344.79 SR 255 north (Bishop Meade Road) / SR 624 (Red Gate Road) – MillwoodSouthern terminus of SR 255
SR 606 (Mount Carmel Road)Former SR 276 north
FauquierParis34.3555.28 US 17 south to I-66 – Warrenton, Sky Meadows State ParkEastern end of US 17 concurrency
Upperville SR 712 (Delaplane Grade Road) – Delaplane
SR 611 (St. Louis Road) – Purcellville
LoudounMiddleburg SR 626 (Plains Road) – The Plains
Aldie SR 734 (Snickersville Pike) – Philomont, Bluemont
Gilberts Corner52.5784.60 US 15 (James Monroe Highway) to I-66 – Leesburg, WarrentonRoundabout
To US 15 / Howsers Branch DriveRoundabout
South Riding SR 606 (Loudoun County Parkway)
FairfaxPleasant Valley SR 609 (Pleasant Valley Road)
Chantilly63.64102.42 SR 28 – Dulles Airport, CentrevilleInterchange
Centreville Road (SR 657)
Lees Corner Road (SR 645 / SR 4646)
Stringfellow Road (SR 645 / SR 7155)
GreenbriarFair Oaks line66.82107.54 SR 286 (Fairfax County Parkway) to I-66Interchange
Fair Oaks68.07109.55 SR 608 (West Ox Road)Interchange
Fair Oaks Shopping CenterInterchange
69.21111.38 I-66 to I-495 – Washington, Gainesville, Front RoyalI-66 exit 57
City of Fairfax70.60113.62 US 29 south (Lee Highway) / SR 236 east (Main Street)Western end of US 29 concurrency, western terminus of SR 236
71.56115.16 SR 123 (Chain Bridge Road) to I-66
73.32118.00 US 29 / SR 237 north (Lee Highway) to I-66 / Old Lee HighwayFairfax Circle (traffic circle with cut-through); eastern end of US 29 concurrency, western end of SR 237 concurrency
73.32118.00 SR 237 south (Pickett Road) to SR 236Eastern end of SR 237 concurrency
FairfaxWoodburnMerrifield line SR 650 (Gallows Road) – MerrifieldInterchange, access to Inova Fairfax Hospital
76.40122.95 I-495 to I-66 – Tysons Corner, RichmondI-495 exit 50
West Falls Church To US 29 (Lee Highway) / Fairview ParkInterchange
SR 649 (Annandale Road) – Falls Church, Annandale
Seven Corners79.64128.17 SR 7 to SR 338 – Falls Church, AlexandriaInterchange
ArlingtonArlingtonCarlin Springs RoadInterchange
George Mason Drive – NFATCInterchange
82.97133.53 SR 120 (Glebe Road) – BallstonInterchange
84.03135.23 To I-395 / Washington Boulevard (SR 27 east) – Clarendon, PentagonInterchange, western terminus of SR 27
Clarendon10th Street North (SR 237 south) / North Court House RoadInterchange; left exit and entrance eastbound; eastern terminus of SR 237
RosslynNorth Rhodes Street / North Rolfe Street / North Queen StreetInterchange; eastbound exit and entrance
North Lynn Street, Francis Scott Key BridgeRosslynInterchange
George Washington Parkway south / Memorial Bridge – No trucksInterchange, eastbound exit and westbound entrance; no access to/from GW Pkwy. northbound
Potomac River85.96138.34 US 50 east to I‑66 east (Theodore Roosevelt Bridge) – WashingtonContinuation into the District of Columbia
1.000 mi = 1.609 km; 1.000 km = 0.621 mi

References[edit]

Route map:

KML is from Wikidata
  1. ^ a b "2011 Traffic Data". Virginia Department of Transportation. 2011. Retrieved January 25, 2013.
  2. ^ Google (January 25, 2013). "U.S. Route 50 in Virginia" (Map). Google Maps. Google. Retrieved January 25, 2013.


U.S. Route 50
Previous state:
West Virginia
Virginia Next state:
District of Columbia
SR 35 Two‑digit State Routes
1923-1933
SR 37 >