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Interstate 68 west - Hancock to Cumberland

Past the Interstate 70/U.S. Route 522 split in the Hancock area of Washington County, Maryland, at essentially the state's narrowest point, and after it receives the ramp from I-70 east/US 522 south with traffic coming in from neighboring Fulton County, Pennsylvania, westbound Interstate 68 begins. At this point, U.S. Route 40 leaves I-70 and becomes concurrent with I-68. Photo taken 09-26-2016.

The speed limit for the time being is 70 miles per hour, an increase from 65 enacted by Governor Larry Hogan in October 2015. The State Highway Administration simply left the old signs up and covered the old speed with the new one. Photo taken 09-26-2016.

Flintstone in Allegany County is 24 miles ahead via exit 56. Cumberland, the seat of Allegany County and an important hub for western Maryland, is 36 miles ahead, and Morgantown, West Virginia is listed as being 104 miles away. I-68 has its western terminus in the Morgantown area at Interstate 79, allowing drivers to shift course toward Charleston or Pittsburgh. Photo taken 09-26-2016.

The highway now crosses Creek Road, which comes out of downtown Hancock and parallels I-68 for a distance. Photo taken 09-26-2016.

A rightward bend in the highway makes it opportune to note that I-68 is named the National Freeway as an homage to it running along the corridor of the historic National Road, which was the country's first attempt at building a road to the Pacific Ocean but only got as far as Vandalia, Illinois. US 40 assumed a considerable portion of the National Road with the adoption of the U.S. Highway system, and it parts ways with I-68 later on preferring to follow the road's course toward Uniontown, Pennsylvania. Construction of the National Freeway began during the 1970s and was completed by 1991, at which point it received the I-68 designation, which had originally been reserved for the Washington-Annapolis freeway upgrade of U.S. Route 50 that ended up becoming the secret Interstate 595. Photo taken 09-26-2016.

After straightening out, the highway encounters a wider curve to the left. As in the previous photo, the cut representing Sideling Hill, which is elaborated on shortly, is visible in the distance. Photo taken 09-26-2016.

The first westbound exit is exit 77, serving U.S. Route 40 Scenic and one of many segments of Maryland Route 144, with indirect access to Woodmont Road, and is a mile away. Photo taken 09-26-2016.

The next sign for the exit notes that Woodmont Road leads to the Pearre Station lot of the Chesapeake and Ohio Canal towpath, near lock 56 of the canal. Photo taken 09-26-2016.

Exit 77 is just ahead. MD 144 in this area carries the name of National Pike, one of several along Maryland's I-68 and I-70 corridors to do so, including other segments of MD 144 and a standalone section of US 40 in Howard County known as Baltimore National Pike. Photo taken 09-26-2016.

The westbound offramp, lined with high-mast lighting. Photo taken 09-26-2016.

Woodmont Road is marked on the ensuing overpass. Photo taken 09-26-2016.

Past the onramp, the third lane lingers for slower traffic. Photo taken 09-26-2016.

The speed limit remains 70 miles per hour. Photo taken 09-26-2016.

The Sideling Hill rest area, which includes a Vietnam veterans memorial, is a mile ahead. Photo taken 09-26-2016.

As the highway curves to the right, the rest area is half a mile away. Photo taken 09-26-2016.

I-68 crosses over Rice Road as truckers are informed they may not enter the rest area. Photo taken 09-26-2016.

A closer look at that sign, as I-68 inches closer to the Sideling Hill cut. Photo taken 09-26-2016.

The entrance to the Sideling Hill rest area is just ahead on the right. Photo taken 09-26-2016.

The rest area entrance sign. A footpath crosses the highway just ahead. Photo taken 09-26-2016.

I-68 now passes through the cut of Sideling Hill, a result of blasting done to make way for the construction of the National Freeway. This process exposed the layers of rock making up the hill. Photo taken 09-26-2016.