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What Drove Quebec's 1970s System-Wide Highway Renumbering

Started by zzcarp, January 21, 2023, 04:24:58 PM

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zzcarp

What led to Quebec's wholesale renumbering of their highway system in the 1970s?

USENDS' great recent post about the Rouses Point border crossing piqued my interest as Quebec was signing routes to match the US's route numbers, and New York continued coordinating with them previously.
Quote from: usends on January 16, 2023, 12:47:20 PM
So we have a ~1946 map showing US 9 going to the eastern/223 crossing.  But I think it must've been only a very brief time that US 9 went there, because we have 1942 and 1944 maps that both show US 9 going to the western/221 crossing, and US 9 was rerouted to the Champlain crossing in 1947.  At the time of that change, it's clear there was a lot of numbering coordination between NY and Quebec: they rerouted both vanilla Route 9's to Champlain, and both agreed to use the Route 9B designation to meet at what is now the eastern/223 crossing.  (NY initially wanted old US 9 through Rouses to be designated Alt US 9, but then apparently changed to 9B in order to coordinate with Quebec.)  It seems US 11 was routed all the way to the eastern/223 crossing during at least part of the '30s and '40s, but around 1947 (when NY and QC agreed on Route 9B) it appears that US 11 was truncated to its jct. with US 2 (this is reflected on maps from the mid-'40s through at least 1960).  I don't know what year Quebec renumbered their routes 9, 9A, and 9B to the current designations, but I suspect that change is what prompted NY to truncate 9B to its current endpoint and to re-extend the US 11 designation to its current border crossing.
[Bolded emphasis added]

Not only did Quebec cooperate with NY, they cooperated with Vermont for US 5 and 7. They also cooperated with Ontario and New Brunswick for a multi-provincial route 2 and continued Ontario's Highway 17 number to Montreal.

Does anyone have any insight into what changed so that their entire numbering system changed and Quebec stopped "cooperating" with neighboring provinces/states? Thanks!
So many miles and so many roads


NE2

Probably (1) the construction of the Autoroutes, and (2) the desire to better match maintenance to numbering.
pre-1945 Florida route log

I accept and respect your identity as long as it's not dumb shit like "identifying as a vaccinated attack helicopter".

froggie

Quote from: zzcarp on January 21, 2023, 04:24:58 PM
Does anyone have any insight into what changed so that their entire numbering system changed and Quebec stopped "cooperating" with neighboring provinces/states? Thanks!

I wouldn't quite say the cooperation ended at that point.  After Quebec completed their renumbering, Vermont renumbered manyl of their own routes at the border to match Quebec's new numbers.

Stephane Dumas

Quote from: NE2 on January 21, 2023, 05:51:00 PM
Probably (1) the construction of the Autoroutes, and (2) the desire to better match maintenance to numbering.

I heard also they created the 200 and 300 series to desserve some municipalities who wasn't located on the main throughfares of the era like PQ-301, PQ-216, etc...

AsphaltPlanet

Quebec's pre-1970s route numbering was very very awkward.  For example, Quebec's Highway 11 ran from Montreal to Gatineau via Mont-Tremblant.  Hwy 9 ran northerly to the US border and then took an abrupt right turn at the south short of Montreal and then headed east.
AsphaltPlanet.ca  Youtube -- Opinions expressed reflect the viewpoints of others.

Stephane Dumas

Quote from: AsphaltPlanet on January 23, 2023, 10:24:17 AM
Quebec's pre-1970s route numbering was very very awkward.  For example, Quebec's Highway 11 ran from Montreal to Gatineau via Mont-Tremblant.  Hwy 9 ran northerly to the US border and then took an abrupt right turn at the south short of Montreal and then headed east.

And Highway 6 circled the Gaspe Peninsula and Highway 55 (not related to current A-55 circled Lac St-Jean.

zzcarp

Quote from: Stephane Dumas on January 23, 2023, 03:02:20 PM
Quote from: AsphaltPlanet on January 23, 2023, 10:24:17 AM
Quebec's pre-1970s route numbering was very very awkward.  For example, Quebec's Highway 11 ran from Montreal to Gatineau via Mont-Tremblant.  Hwy 9 ran northerly to the US border and then took an abrupt right turn at the south short of Montreal and then headed east.

And Highway 6 circled the Gaspe Peninsula and Highway 55 (not related to current A-55 circled Lac St-Jean.

I don't know that the pre-1970s routing was overall anymore awkward than the current situation.

Historic Highway 9 doesn't seem that far out-of-place even with the turn east-it still headed generally northerly after that to Quebec City.

Historic Highway 6 circling the Gaspe Peninsula is the same as today's Highway 132, except Highway 132 has an extra 700 km tail to New York.

Same with Historic Highway 55-it's functionally replaced with a circular Highway 169 though again with a southerly tail on the loop route.

But I agree with Historic Highway 11 - oof, that is an awkward, upside-down "U" shaped route. What were they thinking then?
So many miles and so many roads

dmuzika

I'm wondering if other politics happening in Quebec might have influenced the change. The Quiet Revolution was well underway by that point, which included more infrastructure investments and increased involvement by the provincial government; ultimately leading to a pro-sovereignty government being elected in 1976.

Here's a 1955 map showing the old system;  https://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/workspace/handleMediaPlayer?lunaMediaId=RUMSEY~8~1~212331~5500358. There were probably a few changes in the 15 years between the map and the system change, but it's a good reference point.

Ted$8roadFan

I can even recall seeing US interstate shields in GSV (I-87 New York and I-89 Vermont).

jp the roadgeek

Quote from: Ted$8roadFan on January 24, 2023, 01:12:18 PM
I can even recall seeing US interstate shields in GSV (I-87 New York and I-89 Vermont).
Also I-81 NY (on the 401), I-91 in VT (on A-10 and even as far away as the A-55 South exit on A-20), and I-95 in NB (on NB 2).  There are even US 1 shields for an exit from NB 2, as well as US 201 on A-73 signage at the A-20 junction near Quebec City.
Interstates I've clinched: 97, 290 (MA), 291 (CT), 291 (MA), 293, 295 (DE-NJ-PA), 295 (RI-MA), 384, 391, 395 (CT-MA), 395 (MD), 495 (DE), 610 (LA), 684, 691, 695 (MD), 695 (NY), 795 (MD)

andrepoiy

Quote from: dmuzika on January 24, 2023, 01:08:35 PM
I'm wondering if other politics happening in Quebec might have influenced the change. The Quiet Revolution was well underway by that point, which included more infrastructure investments and increased involvement by the provincial government; ultimately leading to a pro-sovereignty government being elected in 1976.

Here's a 1955 map showing the old system;  https://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/workspace/handleMediaPlayer?lunaMediaId=RUMSEY~8~1~212331~5500358. There were probably a few changes in the 15 years between the map and the system change, but it's a good reference point.

I was going to comment the same thing - seems like a probability, by having its own system it could look more like its own country. Of course this is just speculation

StogieGuy7

Quote from: andrepoiy on January 27, 2023, 02:00:27 PM
Quote from: dmuzika on January 24, 2023, 01:08:35 PM
I'm wondering if other politics happening in Quebec might have influenced the change. The Quiet Revolution was well underway by that point, which included more infrastructure investments and increased involvement by the provincial government; ultimately leading to a pro-sovereignty government being elected in 1976.

Here's a 1955 map showing the old system;  https://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/workspace/handleMediaPlayer?lunaMediaId=RUMSEY~8~1~212331~5500358. There were probably a few changes in the 15 years between the map and the system change, but it's a good reference point.

I was going to comment the same thing - seems like a probability, by having its own system it could look more like its own country. Of course this is just speculation

No, I think this "independent streak" certainly played into the renumbering. You'll note that many other pieces of infrastructure have a different look about them in Quebec than anywhere else in Canada  (or North America, for that matter).

andrepoiy

Quote from: StogieGuy7 on February 02, 2023, 04:02:04 PM
Quote from: andrepoiy on January 27, 2023, 02:00:27 PM
Quote from: dmuzika on January 24, 2023, 01:08:35 PM
I'm wondering if other politics happening in Quebec might have influenced the change. The Quiet Revolution was well underway by that point, which included more infrastructure investments and increased involvement by the provincial government; ultimately leading to a pro-sovereignty government being elected in 1976.

Here's a 1955 map showing the old system;  https://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/workspace/handleMediaPlayer?lunaMediaId=RUMSEY~8~1~212331~5500358. There were probably a few changes in the 15 years between the map and the system change, but it's a good reference point.

I was going to comment the same thing - seems like a probability, by having its own system it could look more like its own country. Of course this is just speculation

No, I think this "independent streak" certainly played into the renumbering. You'll note that many other pieces of infrastructure have a different look about them in Quebec than anywhere else in Canada  (or North America, for that matter).

Could you be more specific in which kinds of infrastructure?

As someone from Ontario, I feel that Quebec freeways look the most American of all the east-coast provinces. Just by design, signs, etc.

Richard3

#13
Quote from: zzcarp on January 21, 2023, 04:24:58 PM
What led to Quebec's wholesale renumbering of their highway system in the 1970s?

USENDS' great recent post about the Rouses Point border crossing piqued my interest as Quebec was signing routes to match the US's route numbers, and New York continued coordinating with them previously.
Quote from: usends on January 16, 2023, 12:47:20 PM
So we have a ~1946 map showing US 9 going to the eastern/223 crossing.  But I think it must've been only a very brief time that US 9 went there, because we have 1942 and 1944 maps that both show US 9 going to the western/221 crossing, and US 9 was rerouted to the Champlain crossing in 1947.  At the time of that change, it's clear there was a lot of numbering coordination between NY and Quebec: they rerouted both vanilla Route 9's to Champlain, and both agreed to use the Route 9B designation to meet at what is now the eastern/223 crossing.  (NY initially wanted old US 9 through Rouses to be designated Alt US 9, but then apparently changed to 9B in order to coordinate with Quebec.)  It seems US 11 was routed all the way to the eastern/223 crossing during at least part of the '30s and '40s, but around 1947 (when NY and QC agreed on Route 9B) it appears that US 11 was truncated to its jct. with US 2 (this is reflected on maps from the mid-'40s through at least 1960).  I don't know what year Quebec renumbered their routes 9, 9A, and 9B to the current designations, but I suspect that change is what prompted NY to truncate 9B to its current endpoint and to re-extend the US 11 designation to its current border crossing.
[Bolded emphasis added]

Not only did Quebec cooperate with NY, they cooperated with Vermont for US 5 and 7. They also cooperated with Ontario and New Brunswick for a multi-provincial route 2 and continued Ontario's Highway 17 number to Montreal.

Does anyone have any insight into what changed so that their entire numbering system changed and Quebec stopped "cooperating" with neighboring provinces/states? Thanks!

I was just a kid in the 1970s, when the changes were done, but now I figure out that with the new 1960s toll highways (that turned toll-free in 1985), then the numerous new freeways under construction, the highway numbering in province of Quebec was looking like a complete mess.  Over that, some roads became more important than others.  So the government decided to completely renumber all Quebec roads, and sort them by categories, in order to avoid having two roads with the same number.  They copycat the Interstate numbering system, with some differences as well.  And it now goes like this:

- 1-99: Freeways (Interstate-standard, or proposed to be in a foreseeable future)
- 100-199: Primary roads
- 200-299: Secondary roads south of St. Lawrence River
- 300-399: Secondary roads north of St. Lawrence River
- 400-999: Freeway loops (1st digit even) and spurs (1st digit odd), as of 3DI Interstates

As time goes by, some oddities appeared in the numbering system.  For example, there's two distinct route 136; one in Quebec City, and now one in Montreal.  It's the same for autoroute 440; there's one in Laval, north of Montreal, and another one in Quebec City.  The route 201, supposed to be on the south shore of the St. Lawrence, crosses the river at Coteau-du-Lac and goes north to A-40, between Rigaud and Hudson.  In order to follow the system, the highway would switch to route 301 once north of the river, but the real route 301 is starting in Portage-du-Fort, about 150 miles west.  Other point; the system cheats a bit on the cardinal points.  East-West (even) routes are following St. Lawrence River, that is more Southwest-Northeast instead of being really East-West.

But all in all, compared with other numbering systems all across North America, the Quebec system is a quite comprehensive one. But now, the highway numbers don't match with neighbor's.
- How many people are working in here?
- About 20%

...yes, it's my real face. Believe it or not.

I'm a semi driver in Canada (mostly in QC, NB and NS)

States/provinces/territories I didn't went in: AB, AK, AL, BC, HI, KS, LA, MB, MN, MS, MT, ND, NL, NT, NU, RI, SD, SK, WA, WI, YT.  Well, maybe some options for a post-retirement road trip. Maybe.

SectorZ

Quote from: dmuzika on January 24, 2023, 01:08:35 PM
I'm wondering if other politics happening in Quebec might have influenced the change. The Quiet Revolution was well underway by that point, which included more infrastructure investments and increased involvement by the provincial government; ultimately leading to a pro-sovereignty government being elected in 1976.

Here's a 1955 map showing the old system;  https://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/workspace/handleMediaPlayer?lunaMediaId=RUMSEY~8~1~212331~5500358. There were probably a few changes in the 15 years between the map and the system change, but it's a good reference point.

Side note: That is the second map I've seen (I own the other) that labels NH 145 as NH 3.

Ted$8roadFan

Quote from: SectorZ on February 03, 2023, 06:02:53 AM
Quote from: dmuzika on January 24, 2023, 01:08:35 PM
I'm wondering if other politics happening in Quebec might have influenced the change. The Quiet Revolution was well underway by that point, which included more infrastructure investments and increased involvement by the provincial government; ultimately leading to a pro-sovereignty government being elected in 1976.

Here's a 1955 map showing the old system;  https://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/workspace/handleMediaPlayer?lunaMediaId=RUMSEY~8~1~212331~5500358. There were probably a few changes in the 15 years between the map and the system change, but it's a good reference point.

Side note: That is the second map I've seen (I own the other) that labels NH 145 as NH 3.

I can recall some online mapping programs advising travelers to use NH 145 instead of US 3 when heading from Pittsburg south....not sure why it's NH 3.

zzcarp

Quote from: Ted$8roadFan on February 03, 2023, 06:37:09 AM
Quote from: SectorZ on February 03, 2023, 06:02:53 AM
Quote from: dmuzika on January 24, 2023, 01:08:35 PM
I'm wondering if other politics happening in Quebec might have influenced the change. The Quiet Revolution was well underway by that point, which included more infrastructure investments and increased involvement by the provincial government; ultimately leading to a pro-sovereignty government being elected in 1976.

Here's a 1955 map showing the old system;  https://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/workspace/handleMediaPlayer?lunaMediaId=RUMSEY~8~1~212331~5500358. There were probably a few changes in the 15 years between the map and the system change, but it's a good reference point.

Side note: That is the second map I've seen (I own the other) that labels NH 145 as NH 3.

I can recall some online mapping programs advising travelers to use NH 145 instead of US 3 when heading from Pittsburg south....not sure why it's NH 3.

From what I can see, the 1951-3 Highway map shows that road as NH 125. Then by 1954 it is shown as NH 3. It is still shown as NH 3 in 1960, but by 1965 it was changed to NH 145.
So many miles and so many roads

webfil

#17

The renumbering happened indeed towards the end of the Quiet revolution, when most of modern governmental institutions were commissioned, driven by the nationalistic policies ― not necessarily separatist or chauvinist, but rather leaning towards republicanism and state-interventionism ― of the ill-named Liberal Party. I do not think the renumbering was purely technical, but I do not think it was either directly ordered by politics. It was just a thing at that time, to shake things over and start anew. This little guy over there was the face of the 1971-1974 renumbering. Though appearing as silly, it is a blatant example of the growing conscience of the Québecois culture at the time. The parallel between Asterix's village in the Roman Empire and Québec's cultural exception in North America is caricatural, and the MTQ most likely deliberately chose to make their operation funny.

Per the 1971-1972 MTQ annual report, the renumbering was implemented to optimize itineraries. The Ministry developed a simple, "easy-to-remember" numbering system. At the time, the great itineraries we know today were cut into bits and pieces; 116, 117, 132 and 138 all had at least different 4 designations versus their actual status, while linking major destinations. There was some logic to the new grid, but many new numbers inherited loosely from the previous one, still fitting in that grid : 8 became 148 (instead of, say, 150), the most frequented leg of 11 mostly became 117 (why not 115?), 13 became 139 (while the neighbouring R-39 was replaced by R-243... that one boggles me), 19A became 159, 22 became part of 122, 24 became 204, 40 became 104 and so on. Some itineraries have seen less change in their routing and did not have a logical or inherited number : 29 became 344, 34 became 161, 41 became 158 and 1 was closely followed by R-112 (Sidenote to Route 1: its low number shows how it is intricately linked to the early stagecoach and colonisation routes along Craig/Gosford (Québec-Sherbrooke) and Stagecoach (Montréal-Sherbrooke) roads. Route 2 would have been among the few predecessors to route 1 as a public ― or "royal" ― road, maintained by the colony rather than the seigniors. While not the most frequented today, Route 1 has then been a known itinerary since the early 1800's, in the beginnings of land travel in Canada).

The overall budget for this project was $550,000 and the newly numbered network added 3,600 miles of roads to the existing 7,500 miles of official itineraries.

The first phase happened in 1971-1972. It aimed at identifying previously unnumbered secondary roads (2xx and 3xx). The second phase, that effectively re-numbered roads was implemented in the Spring of 1973. One year later, the renumbering was 95 % complete. The shields bearing the former numbers still stood up for a while, stroke by a black diagonal line to indicate the decommissioning.

The 1971-1974 renumbering was the second one in 40 years. In the late 20's or early 30's (most probably the latter), the MVQ reviewed their primitive numbering system then again to simplify itineraries. This is when route 2 connected Ontario to New Brunswick, and US-5 and 7 were harmonised with their Québec counterpart. It still wasn't perfect, with numbers 15 and 16 being used to designate pretty much every highway north of the Saint Lawrence, east of Québec City.
1927 map : https://collections.banq.qc.ca/ark:/52327/2243908
1933 map : https://collections.banq.qc.ca/ark:/52327/2827254

That first renumbering occurred pretty much concomitantly to the Gordon and Vautrin colonisation plans, which drove tens of thousands of people off the unemployment-plagued cities towards unsettled land, opening new regions that needed... new roads! There was no provision for new, logical highway numbers even after the 1930's renumbering, so this system was rapidly rendered obsolete. Before the 1930's, the hinterland where routes 232, 234, 291 to 298 and 382 to 399 nowadays run, for example, was open forest, devoid of permanent occupation except for aboriginal peoples and logging or mining camps. The inception in 1966 of a province-wide autoroute numbering system formalized duplicate numbers for two different, unrelated roads  : route 20 and A-20 were closely parallel, but that was merely an exception to routes 5, 10, 15, 25, 30, 35 and 40, that were tens, nay hundreds of miles away from their autoroute counterpart. That was for sure the final nail in the coffin for the old numbering system.

EDITED to explain better the choice of numbers and better answer the question

Alps


webfil

#19
Quote from: Alps on February 18, 2023, 01:26:47 AM
15 looks like a loop route
Double-loop, indeed : one around lake Saint-Jean, the other along present-day 138, 170 and 169/175. There even seems to be another leg of numbered route between Camp Laferté and Saint-Jérôme (present-day Métabetchouan), presumably also bearing designation "15". Today, it's a minor road maintained by the SEPAQ, bearing number 40 in their network of recreational and logging roads spanning in the Laurentides Reserve as well as Jacques-Cartier and Grands-Jardins parks. The road through Laurentides reserve was built in the early 1930's and the previous itinerary between Québec and Lake St. John was via present-day 138 and 170, so this might explain the multiple redundancy for totally different roads.

The harmonisation of the designation for routes 2, 5, 7 and 17 with the neighbouring states and provinces seems to have happened in 1928-1929. I can't find the date for the replacement of the number 15 in favour of the 54(ABC)-55-56 triplet for the Saguenay and Lac-Saint-Jean regions, although it is before 1941.



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