April 2011

The newest section of freeway opened in El Paso yesterday, completing Spur 601.

Originally called the Inner Loop Freeway, Spur 601 was renamed the “Liberty Expressway” and it connects “Purple Heart Blvd” with the “Patriot Freeway” with an exit at “Constitution Avenue” for good measure. If this all sounds like the freeway system of a fictional city in the G.I. Joe Universe, it may have something to do with the fact that the road runs through the large army base of Fort Bliss and will be used by a lot of active troops. Recent base closures and realignments have meant that the number of personnel based at Fort Bliss has grown considerably. Construction on the first portion of the route began in 2007. A new method of financing called “pass-through” was used here, and it means the DOT can pay for the construction through semi-annual payments instead of entirely up-front.

El Paso’s next big freeway project will sit along Loop 375 along the Rio Grande River, and consists of adding toll lanes. Bidding for the project started last month. All of El Paso’s future large road projects, like almost all in Texas, are going to be tolled with the exception of those used primarily for the military.

Put the finishing touches on a major overhaul and update for the Maryland section of AARoads. Finally added photos dating from trips between August 2005 and July 2010, covering mostly the Interstate 95 corridor, Baltimore, Washington, and areas in between. Things updated within the Maryland Highway guides include:

The new stack interchange between Interstates 95 & 695 east of Baltimore, including a stub for an eventual direct ramp with the new I-95 Express Toll Lanes.

A southbound look at the new Woodrow Wilson Bridge.


at long last, I am back, with some photos for everyone … highway signs which showed up at Roy Reed’s gas and oil collectible swap meet, and then some scenery from the subsequent days, when I found I had some time on my hands and did a quick trip up to the Bay Area and Sacramento. enjoy!

This poor guide sign has been cut into three pieces – and one is missing. But still, this is the only ACSC diamond I have ever seen which mentions “Arizona State Highway” and, even more spectacularly, the Grand Canyon! Certainly unique.

After Roy’s, we explore many roads – not all of which go to any particular place.

Well, what do we have here? Oh, just the only known surviving cateyed sign in California! This stop sign dates to between 1934 and 1942, and is the first cateyed sign anyone’s seen since the mid-1990s. A miracle that it would survive… and it does!


The 2012 Rand McNally is now out and after a somewhat indepth comparison with the 2011 version I found the following modifications:

    1. – Mississippi – MS 67 on the main state page is now shown as four-lane for its entire length (was a grey line in the 2011 edition)
    1. – Missouri – I-64 is now shown as a freeway all the way to I-70
    1. – Missouri – US 36 around the town of Chillicothe is shown in its proper alignment (the 2011 edition showed the alignment further south and as a freeway)
  • I’m sure there are a few more miniscule changes here and there, but that is all I could find after going page by page. And on the main U.S. map page, they did recolor the topology and reduce the size of the shields. Other than that, that’s it.

    And for the big kicker with the 2012 edition, none of the errors discussed in the 2011 Rand McNally thread on the AARoads Forum were corrected!! So according to the 2012 Rand, I-520 still does not connect with I-20 on the South Carolina side, I-376 is not fully shown along PA 60 (and I-279 still exists from downtown to I-79), I-170 still exists in the Baltimore inset, the ICC is still shown as under construction, etc., etc…

    Now I know that some projects, like the ICC, just recently opened within the past few months, but this is suppose to be a 2012 atlas, it should be shown as complete on this edition, not still under construction. Someone in their research department (if one still exists) should have done their homework on projects like that and made sure that if it was fully known as to the approximate date of the road opening that it would be shown as complete on their newer edition. I used to do this as a living so I know what it takes to get the research done on things like this. And even though they probably have no road enthusiasts like us working for them, one would think that there would be a little common sense involved when comparing items under construction in last years edition versus the edition you are working on the get out and seeing what has changed.

    It seems to me that the items they did fix are only cosmetic. And as far as each of the state’s population information, the only population they updated was for the state-wide population. Um, Rand McNally, wouldn’t you think that if the entire state had a population change that the largest city in that state would also have a population change??? Really…

    And now they have QR codes on every page so you can scan with your iPhone (or whatever) for free travel information, videos and more. I’m sure that the powers-that-be put forth more effort into this aspect of the map than they did for the actual update of the contents within the pages. They made sure that is on each page but they couldn’t do something like update the little pictures they have inserted on each state as well? Come on now. Really??

    In short, I am not pleased with this year’s atlas at all. It’s basically a carbon-copy of the 2011 edition with a few cosmetic changes, that’s all. In fact, I plan on doing something I’ve never done with a road atlas until now; I am going to be returning it to Wal-Mart for a refund on Monday. With so few updates and still the same errors as last year, it’s pointless to even make the purchase, unless of course you want to use the QR code functionality.

    Since it seems that they have given up in producing a well rounded, up-to-date road atlas, perhaps it’s time for Rand McNally to go way of many states in only producing a new road atlas every two years. Or perhaps it’s time for them to give up all together and sell the company to its competitor (who seem to be gobbling up the rest of the mapping companies anyway).

    You know, I use to enjoy the anticipation of buying a new Rand McNally (in late September/early October) and seeing all the changes and updates. Those days are forever gone. Now it comes out way too early (early April) and there are really no changes or updates to discover. Nope, only error after error after error. It’s a real shame. Thanks a lot, Rand, thanks a lot…

    Also follow this topic in the 2012 Rand McNally thread over at the AARoads Forum!