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Do they use traditional shields in Spain?



I see that the guide sign shields are just colored rectangles with numbers in them preceded with a letter.  Is that how stand alone appear as well.

I also see at exit guides are black on white not white on blue either.

Photo courtesy of European Roads on Flickr.

Spain does not use trailblazers or separate route number markers.

However they do prominently show road numbers on kilometer markers. Regional governments also include their name on them.

I've taken a large number of photos of them over the past few years.

A kilometer marker of a road owned by the autonomous community of Andalusia.

A-1178 road to Calar Alto 03 by European Roads, on Flickr

A kilometer marker of a road owned by the province of Almería.

Collado del Conde 09 by European Roads, on Flickr

A kilometer marker of a road owned by the autonomous community of Castille-León (Castilla y León or CyL).

CL-601 Puerto de Navacerrada 03 by European Roads, on Flickr

Araba / Álava (a province in Basque Country). Notably, the autonomous community of Basque Country does not own any roads, all road ownership is transferred to the provinces there.

N-622 Vitoria-Gasteiz 02 by European Roads, on Flickr

A national road marker.

N-623 Puerto del Escudo - Cantabria 07 by European Roads, on Flickr

A kilometer marker in the principality of Asturias.

AS-114 Cares Canyon Asturias 05 by European Roads, on Flickr

This road is in Ourense province, but it is a road owned by the autonomous community of Galicia. Road number conventions also vary between autonomous communities in Spain.

OU-125 Portela de Canda 02 by European Roads, on Flickr

This one is in A Coruña province, also a road owned by Galicia.

AC-550 Muros 01 by European Roads, on Flickr

This is in León province, however this is also an autonomous road by Castilla y León.

LE-315 Hoces de Vegacervera 06 by European Roads, on Flickr

This is in Lleida province, which is in Catalonia. This is a provincial road.

LV-9047 by European Roads, on Flickr

Yeah, when I visited Spain a long time ago (geez...almost 35 years?), I was taken aback by the itty bitty route shields on their signage.

A lot has changed since 1987 in regards to the Spanish road system.

First, a massive round of decentralization took place in 1980-1984, when the autonomous communities were formed and the 'carretera comarcal' road class was transferred to them. Then, mostly in the 1990s but even into the 2000s, the autonomous communities all adopted their own road numbering, the former C-XXX roads were renumbered with a regional prefix. This is when the Spanish road numbering system got significantly more complex.

Previously, there were three main classes of route numbers: the national roads (N-roads), the comarcal roads (C-roads) and local roads (L-roads, mostly unsigned?) A comarca is an administrative unit with a varying degree of governance, on a level between provinces and municipalities. While comarcas do not have much function, many roads are classified to be of 'comarcal importance'.

Nowadays the C-roads are roads owned by the Catalan autonomous community. They vary from back roads to big motorways.

There was a major renumbering of the national road system in 2003. Up until that time, the A-road numbering was reserved for the autopista. However by that time a significant amount of autovía was built. These are 120 km/h, four lane, controlled-access highways. They are basically motorways like in any other European country, originally built in the 1980s and early 1990s by twinning existing N-roads, but mostly on a greenfield alignment after the mid-1990s. They were numbered with an N-number until 2003, when they were changed to A-numbers, with the old A-numbers moving into the AP-number category. AP then meant 'autopistas de peaje', or tolled autopistas. Not every single AP-road is tolled, and not every single autopista status road has an AP-number.

You can probably write a large essay on the structure of road ownership, road classification and road numbering in Spain. It's probably the most complex system in the world, even though there is a system behind it.


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