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Arizona Trying to Replace "Km" Signs on I-19 With "Miles", Locals Want to Keep Metric System

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Arizona Trying to Replace "Km" Signs on I-19 With "Miles", Locals Want to Keep Metric System

FRIDAY, SEPTEMBER 17, 2010

About thirty years ago, America tried to go global by integrating the metric system and...we all know how that turned out. Oddly enough, there are still some American places out there that use metric measurements (not just those bad people dealing in kilos...).

One such zany region is the American southwest, where Interstate 19 measures its exit intervals in kilometers. After years of quirk, I-19's signs have gotten old and worn and now need to be replaced with new, more reflective units.

In a very American move, the Arizona Department of Transportation will likely replace the "Km" signs with ones labeled "miles", as well as reconfigure the interstate's exit numbers. But alas, there's a problem, as always. People who have been using I-19 for years have grown used to the exit numbers and think the rearrangement - said to cost approximately $1.5 million in stimulus money - will bring about some problems.

Jim Green, owner of the Inn at San Ignacio, explains: "You'd think it wouldn't be a big deal, but it is. Think about how much money my company has spent directing people to Exit 56. Think about the literature, the brochures, the tour books...I've been in the hotel business since 1997 and I've been asked by my guests thousands of times about the metric signs. They aren't complaining. They are intrigued."

While that argument at least makes sense, there are some people out there who, according to the New York Times, don't like the signs because "they look foreign". Christ. How about the fact that the metric system actually makes sense and uses measurable intervals (instead of an arbitrary number like 5,280 feet in a mile and 3 feet in a "yard"). I don't know, maybe I'm just an evil Commie...

Understandably, the signs may confuse some, but saying we want it out of here because the Amurrica "beat" the foreign metric system just makes people look like tools.

As for the project, "local opposition" has forced it to be put on hold for the time being until a new strategy can be planned out. However, officials think they have come up with a solution: new signs in "miles" to get I-19 up with the times, while the old exit number would be labeled on them as well (e.g. "Old Exit ##").

Seems like that should have been the plan from the get-go. Ah, politicians and their lack of clear thinking or decisiveness...

By Phil Alex

link:

http://carscoop.blogspot.com/2010/09/arizona-trying-to-replace-signs-on-i-19.html

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I fail to see the connection between redoing the distance signs & renumbering the exits... someone 'splain.

Anyone who was raised & lives here that has issues with the SAE / miles measurement system is the tool.

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Basically, exit numbers are mile markers. Say if you got off on exit 23, that would be mile 23 on that particular stretch of highway in that particular state. I don't know anyone who actually travels using mile markers, but they are needed in emergency situations.

You know what I think they should do? Have the mile marker signs in metric and standard. Leave the exit signs alone. There. Now I have a plan even better than one from AZ's public or from AZ's state government. I'm sure my plan is more cost effective anyway.

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Recently, Arizona's been doing some super crazy stuff. They might as well keep the crazy coming, and go Metric. Only in that case, it'd be so crazy, that it'd actually be totally rational and sane.

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I fail to see the connection between redoing the distance signs & renumbering the exits... someone 'splain.

Balthy, I'm disappointed. ;-) You've driven on the Garden State Parkway or Atlantic City Expressway! Exits and mile markers are (mostly) aligned. This became something of an issue when NJ 55 was "completed" in the '90s... they had to renumber a bunch of exits... and did so taking into to account that someday 20 miles miles of highway will be added in the future.

Too much NJ Turnpike driving, I guess...

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Yeah- maybe taken the ACX once, the GSP either way down south or zipping up to NWK. I do frequent the TRP more often, for some reason.

Guess I never made much of the alignment (obviously)- I need Exit 12, I drive until I get there, I don't count off mile markers... :confused0071:

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I've seen freeways in some states where the exit #s and MMs have no correlation..

True... like the NJ Turnpike. But these are disappearing. I'm not sure, but I think most true Interstate routes now use the correlation. NJT, even though its signed as I-95 north of Trenton, is not a fully compliant part of the Interstate system, IIRC.

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Put up signs with both measures, it'd be essentially the same cost. While I'm more familiar with SAE measures, it does make sense to continually move further & further toward metric, and having signs with both measures would be a good way to help with that.

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Each state chooses between using the mile markers to number the exits, or sequential numbering. Mile markers make more sense when there's the possibility of growth near the highway - say sequential exits 7 and 8 are spread well apart, but near a city that's growing. You'll end up with a 7A, 7B, etc when you have to insert them. It's better if there's a gap between them to begin with. Here in Ontario, we number according to kilometer markers.

I remember as a kid using the mile markers as a way to tick off progress on our way down I-75 to Florida. It's a long drive, and as a kid you need a progress indicator or you'd go batty.

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I remember as a kid using the mile markers as a way to tick off progress on our way down I-75 to Florida. It's a long drive, and as a kid you need a progress indicator or you'd go batty.

Ya, as a kid, I did the same thing on the Ohio to Florida drives on I-75 or I-77 & I-95..

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True... like the NJ Turnpike. But these are disappearing. I'm not sure, but I think most true Interstate routes now use the correlation. NJT, even though its signed as I-95 north of Trenton, is not a fully compliant part of the Interstate system, IIRC.

Almost all correlate now.

California was the biggest exception because most of their freeway building took place before Federal standards existed (in fact, when Fed standards differ from CA standards, it's because the Fed didn't just adopt the Caltrans standards). California used post-miles instead of mileposts, which has a great wikipedia entry explaining the difference because I can't tell you. Of course, Caltrans is now converting to the same milepost system the rest of us know and love, and so the need-to-know about post-miles is rapidly disappearing.

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Each state chooses between using the mile markers to number the exits, or sequential numbering. Mile markers make more sense when there's the possibility of growth near the highway - say sequential exits 7 and 8 are spread well apart, but near a city that's growing. You'll end up with a 7A, 7B, etc when you have to insert them. It's better if there's a gap between them to begin with. Here in Ontario, we number according to kilometer markers.

I remember as a kid using the mile markers as a way to tick off progress on our way down I-75 to Florida. It's a long drive, and as a kid you need a progress indicator or you'd go batty.

Mostly true. Other than emergency purposes, the wayfinding is another reason to go to milepost exit numbering.

The ABCD subexit numbering always remains, though, because many times there are multiple exits within a 1-mile span. California and Texas consciously designed freeways to accommodate local traffic, so exits are about 1/2 to 3/4 miles apart in some cases...interchanges and some high-volume exits have multiple exit ramps (Rosecrans east/west, Cherry Ave. north/south).

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Each state chooses between using the mile markers to number the exits, or sequential numbering. Mile markers make more sense when there's the possibility of growth near the highway - say sequential exits 7 and 8 are spread well apart, but near a city that's growing. You'll end up with a 7A, 7B, etc when you have to insert them. It's better if there's a gap between them to begin with. Here in Ontario, we number according to kilometer markers.

Its not always a state-by-state thing... some of it seems to be legacy stuff from highways built or designed before the one system or another became de facto... though since sequential numbering was popular in the northeastern states, and many of them tend to be small, it can appear that way. That said, most of NJ highways mile markers and exit correlate, but not on the NJ Turnpike.

From Wiki:

In most states, the exit numbers correspond to the mileage markers on the Interstates. However, on I-19 in Arizona, length is measured in kilometers instead of miles, in part because the road runs south to the Mexican border. On most even-numbered Interstates, mileage count increases from west to east; on odd-numbered Interstates, mileage count increases from south to north. Some tollways, including the New York State Thruway and Jane Addams Memorial Tollway, use radial exit numbering schemes. Exits on the New York State Thruway count up from Yonkers traveling north, and then west from Albany. On the Jane Addams Memorial Tollway, mileage markers count up from Chicago-O'Hare International Airport traveling west, which is the starting point of the tollway. Many northeastern states label exit numbers sequentially, regardless of how many miles have passed between exits. States in which Interstate exits are still numbered sequentially are Connecticut, Delaware, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island, and Vermont; as such, the four main Interstate highways that remain completely within these states (87, 89, 91, and 93) have interchanges numbered sequentially along their entire routes. Maine, Pennsylvania, Virginia, Georgia and Florida followed this system for a number of years, but since converted to mileage-based exit numbers. Georgia renumbered in 2000, while Maine did so in 2004. The Pennsylvania Turnpike uses both mile marker numbers and sequential numbers. Mile marker numbers are used for signage, while sequential numbers are used for numbering interchanges internally. The New Jersey Turnpike also has sequential numbering, but other Interstates within New Jersey generally use mile markers.

Almost all correlate now.

California was the biggest exception because most of their freeway building took place before Federal standards existed (in fact, when Fed standards differ from CA standards, it's because the Fed didn't just adopt the Caltrans standards). California used post-miles instead of mileposts, which has a great wikipedia entry explaining the difference because I can't tell you. Of course, Caltrans is now converting to the same milepost system the rest of us know and love, and so the need-to-know about post-miles is rapidly disappearing.

Actually, that is interesting. I never noticed it before... I guess my visits to Cali are too recent to have noticed much of the old system. Of course, that system don't really work in the rest of the US were counties are relatively small.

The ABCD subexit numbering always remains, though, because many times there are multiple exits within a 1-mile span. California and Texas consciously designed freeways to accommodate local traffic, so exits are about 1/2 to 3/4 miles apart in some cases...interchanges and some high-volume exits have multiple exit ramps (Rosecrans east/west, Cherry Ave. north/south).

Usually the use of letters is for multiple exits in the same mile, but not always... for example, when they added the "Brigantine Connector" to the eastern end (0 end) of the Atlantic City Expressway, they numbered the exits on that 2.3mile section A through I (I not signed).

Edited by SAmadei

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Actually, that is interesting. I never noticed it before... I guess my visits to Cali are too recent to have noticed much of the old system. Of course, that system don't really work in the rest of the US were counties are relatively small.

No worries, until the conversion to mileposts, the vast majority of exits were just named, with no number. Caltrans has slowly been adding signed numbers to overhead guide signs and gore signs since...2007? At least that's when I started noticing it. The only way to notice otherwise is if you stopped at the side of the freeway and actually NOTED the county-coordinated post-miles...on the little wooden post with the labeled mileage.

Usually the use of letters is for multiple exits in the same mile, but not always... for example, when they added the "Brigantine Connector" to the eastern end (0 end) of the Atlantic City Expressway, they numbered the exits on that 2.3mile section A through I (I not signed).

Yeah, I've seen a few examples of that as well (though I believe what I saw was signed 0A, 0B, 0C, etc...), because let's just be honest...this saves a ton of money instead of renumbering the ENTIRE rest of the route.

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I've seen freeways in some states where the exit #s and MMs have no correlation..

More often than not, at least from what I've seen, exit numbers have been mileage-based on mainline (1- or 2-digit) Interstates. 3dis have for the most part remained sequential.

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I've seen some that seem to count down to some point (like a state line) or count up from some point (like a state line). The ones that count up aren't very useful...(I don't need to know how far it is from where I've been, more interested in how far it is to where I'm going).

Edited by Cubical-aka-Moltar

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I've seen some that seem to count down to some point (like a state line) or count up from some point (like a state line). The ones that count up aren't very useful...(I don't need to know how far it is from where I've been, more interested in how far it is to where I'm going).

That's pretty much how they all work (count up from either the beginning of the road or the state line), and since the mile marks are the same on either direction of the road, the numbers are going to count up or down depending on which direction you are driving.

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That's pretty much how they all work (count up from either the beginning of the road or the state line), and since the mile marks are the same on either direction of the road, the numbers are going to count up or down depending on which direction you are driving.

Do'h... I suppose the mile marker #s would have to be the same in both directions of a road...

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More often than not, at least from what I've seen, exit numbers have been mileage-based on mainline (1- or 2-digit) Interstates. 3dis have for the most part remained sequential.

Ehhhhhh that really depends. Many states have a hub-and-spoke system because it just is more cost-efficient to bypass a city than rip freeways through the middle of them, especially when a city is more built-up and established. In this case, those 3-digits are often, but not always, as you described.

Los Angeles is a fairly young city in terms of the age of the built environment, even more so back in the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s when the vast majority of our freeway network was built. LA has a grid network of freeways, so our 3-digit routes aren't really bypasses or spurs in the traditional sense. Many western cities are like this, too, because the cities of the west are relatively young. Hence, mileage-based for all routes.

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Ehhhhhh that really depends. Many states have a hub-and-spoke system because it just is more cost-efficient to bypass a city than rip freeways through the middle of them, especially when a city is more built-up and established. In this case, those 3-digits are often, but not always, as you described.

Los Angeles is a fairly young city in terms of the age of the built environment, even more so back in the 30s, 40s, 50s and 60s when the vast majority of our freeway network was built. LA has a grid network of freeways, so our 3-digit routes aren't really bypasses or spurs in the traditional sense. Many western cities are like this, too, because the cities of the west are relatively young. Hence, mileage-based for all routes.

Point taken. You're right; I should expect states with long 3dis (Pennsylvania comes to mind also) that pre-date the Interstate system to be mileage-based.

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Point taken. You're right; I should expect states with long 3dis (Pennsylvania comes to mind also) that pre-date the Interstate system to be mileage-based.

'3dis'?

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3-digit Interstates. Example: I-495 is a 3di whose parent 2di is I-95.

Sorry, I'm a bit of a roadgeek. :P

Cool...I remember reading a website a while back that explained the numbering scheme regarding even/odd (e-w/n-s), the significance of 3 digit interstates beginning w/ even vs odd numbers, etc. I've long enjoyed studying maps....studying google maps and Wikipedia is fun, but not as much as a big Rand McNally road atlas or a Thomas guide.

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