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Author Topic: Non-Interstate Control Cities  (Read 571 times)

jtespi

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Non-Interstate Control Cities
« on: September 17, 2022, 05:52:44 AM »

What do you all think about best signing practices for control cities on non-Interstate (and non-freeway) roads? I'm talking about primarily US Highways but some major state highways can be included too.

In the West, I find the choices to usually be appropriate.
For example, Vaughn and Portales are the control cities for US-285 North and US-70 East respectively at their junction in north Roswell, NM. Vaughn is 91 miles away and Portales is 86 miles away. Clovis (105 mi away) could have been signed as a secondary but I think Portales is adequate because ENMU is there and NM-467 which is a cutoff to Cannon AFB intersects US-70 on the east end of Portales.
Silver City (92 mi away) is the control city for US-180 S just outside of Reserve, NM.
In Utah, Moab (75 mi away) is the control city for US-191 N in Blanding, UT.

But in the Midwest where there are many tiny towns at short 20-mile intervals, frequently the next town over is signed as the control city instead of a larger town 50 or so miles away.
For example, Cimarron (13 mi away) is the control city instead of the much larger Garden City (46 mi away) for US-400 W in Dodge City, KS.
In Greely, NE, St. Paul (25 mi away) is the control city instead of Grand Island (46 mi away) for US-281 S.

At least in Liberal, KS they sign Garden City for US-83 N which is 68 miles away instead of Sublette (34 mi away) which US-83 passes close to.
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kphoger

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Re: Non-Interstate Control Cities
« Reply #1 on: September 17, 2022, 10:40:48 AM »

I prefer surface routes to have control cities that aren't as far away as Interstate control cities.
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Re: Non-Interstate Control Cities
« Reply #2 on: September 17, 2022, 04:20:53 PM »

If there's a small town, I'd rather have that on the sign because it will probably be of more local interest, especially if there's a parallel interstate highway or more prominent road for people to take to the larger city. If not, worse comes to worst, long-distance travelers will have access to a map anyways and know to follow a route number rather than the signs.

However, if two towns fit on the sign, I'd rather see the second town be the next prominent city instead of the second small town on the road. That way, both long-distance and short-distance destinations are covered.

For example, if we're talking US-6 heading west out of Marsailles, Illinois, I'd have the first town on the sign be "Ottawa". If there's room for another control city, instead of putting "LaSalle-Peru", I'd prefer it say "Moline". I feel like it gives a better scope of where the road leads than having two small towns ten miles away from each other.
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kphoger

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Re: Non-Interstate Control Cities
« Reply #3 on: September 17, 2022, 07:41:59 PM »

long-distance travelers will have access to a map anyways and know to follow a route number rather than the signs.

They will, huh?  Glad you've decided that for them.

Then why do we bother even using control cities at all?
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Re: Non-Interstate Control Cities
« Reply #4 on: September 17, 2022, 09:33:48 PM »

long-distance travelers will have access to a map anyways and know to follow a route number rather than the signs.

They will, huh?  Glad you've decided that for them.

Also, following a route number isn't always the best/fastest route either.
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Hobart

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Re: Non-Interstate Control Cities
« Reply #5 on: September 17, 2022, 11:39:40 PM »

long-distance travelers will have access to a map anyways and know to follow a route number rather than the signs.

They will, huh?  Glad you've decided that for them.

Then why do we bother even using control cities at all?

Answer to your first question: We are in an age where we have all of the information in the world in a magical box in our pocket. If not, what person who is seriously committed to taking a trip fails to either buy an atlas, or get one free of charge from an information center?

Answer to your second question: Control cities are useful because they can be an aid in directions, but are ultimately not a full substitute for being able to look at a map and see what is going on, in my opinion. This is why there are many highways that have numbers, but no control cities.

Also, following a route number isn't always the best/fastest route either.
It is worth mentioning that in rural areas in the west and Midwest, where this control city discussion is targeted, the numbered route is the best (or even only) way to get between two small towns acting as control cities 95% of the time. For U.S. Routes, this is given by guidance from the AASHTO in their 2000 policy book (https://web.archive.org/web/20061101234239/http://cms.transportation.org/sites/route/docs/HO1_Policy_Establ_Develop_USRN.pdf).

Granted, it does get hectic in urban areas, but in the areas the thread is discussing, either every numbered highway runs in an effectively straight line between its two control cities (Midwest), or the highway is literally the only one between two points (mountainous areas).
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J N Winkler

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Re: Non-Interstate Control Cities
« Reply #6 on: September 18, 2022, 01:38:11 AM »

What do you all think about best signing practices for control cities on non-Interstate (and non-freeway) roads? I'm talking about primarily US Highways but some major state highways can be included too.

Some states, such as Arizona, use a control point map, while others, such as Kansas, have criteria for choosing them.  I don't know that one approach is better than the other, though the latter affords more flexibility.

But in the Midwest where there are many tiny towns at short 20-mile intervals, frequently the next town over is signed as the control city instead of a larger town 50 or so miles away.
For example, Cimarron (13 mi away) is the control city instead of the much larger Garden City (46 mi away) for US-400 W in Dodge City, KS.

Cimarron is the seat of Gray County.  These are Kansas' criteria for choosing control points off the Interstate system (listed in priority order):

*  County seat within 100 miles.

*  Incorporated city within 100 miles having population greater than 1000.

*  Major highway route.

*  Incorporated city with population less than 1000.

*  Unincorporated community.

On northbound US 283 at its intersection with US 56/US 400 south of Dodge City, the left-hand destinations are Sublette (seat of Haskell County, west on US 56) and Cimarron (west on US 400).  Montezuma is closer than Sublette, but with 974 people barely misses the 1000 population threshold.  The right-hand destinations are Jetmore (seat of Hodgeman County, north on US 283), Kinsley (seat of Edwards County, east on US 56), and Greensburg (seat of Kiowa County, east on US 400).

At least in Liberal, KS they sign Garden City for US-83 N which is 68 miles away instead of Sublette (34 mi away) which US-83 passes close to.

Yes.  The criteria afford some scope for exercise of discretion.



Internationally, there are more elaborate versions of these two basic approaches.  Britain, for example, has a hierarchy of primary destinations that appear on signs for the motorways (blue background) and primary routes (green background--"major A roads" is a loose term for this network).  The tiers are primary (Oxford, Southampton), super-primary (London, Leeds), and regional (The NORTH, The NORTH WEST, SCOTLAND).  Designers can choose which to put on signs, but there is an expectation that continuity in signing will be maintained (i.e., once you see a destination on a sign, you should be able to follow subsequent mentions of it on signs until you reach it).  France, on the other hand, has the concept of a signing map (schéma-directeur de signalisation) that shows a network and lists all of the destinations to be signed at each intersection.  Central government (i.e., the folks in Paris) must approve the map that covers the réseau vert ("green network," basically the equivalent of the primary-route network in the UK).
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jtespi

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Re: Non-Interstate Control Cities
« Reply #7 on: September 18, 2022, 05:05:07 AM »

Cimarron is the seat of Gray County.  These are Kansas' criteria for choosing control points off the Interstate system (listed in priority order):

*  County seat within 100 miles.
*  Incorporated city within 100 miles having population greater than 1000.
*  Major highway route.
*  Incorporated city with population less than 1000.
*  Unincorporated community.
:cool: That's pretty neat you were able to find the criteria list from K-DOT. I guess if they had chosen to include two control cities, they probably would have included Garden City as a secondary after Cimarron.

I did a long distance road trip this past March on US-54 and I thought that Wichita should have been signed from as far west as Greensburg (110 mi). However, that would involve skipping over the cities of Pratt and Kingman. At least in Pratt, Wichita got the third spot on the mileage sign at 70 miles away.

But I guess that my thinking fails to acknowledge that the vast majority of people traveling these roads are either local drivers or truckers. "Ordinary" long-distance drivers who might be less familiar with the map of the region are far more likely to take the Interstate. Also, in today's day and age pretty much everyone has a smartphone and hence an interactive map in their hands. So you could argue that there's less need to sign distant control cities with the widespread use of Google Maps and the like.

On northbound US 283 at its intersection with US 56/US 400 south of Dodge City, the left-hand destinations are Sublette (seat of Haskell County, west on US 56) and Cimarron (west on US 400).  Montezuma is closer than Sublette, but with 974 people barely misses the 1000 population threshold.  The right-hand destinations are Jetmore (seat of Hodgeman County, north on US 283), Kinsley (seat of Edwards County, east on US 56), and Greensburg (seat of Kiowa County, east on US 400).
Those are all good control cities except for, as I mentioned, the omission of Garden City. However, Garden City does show up as a secondary destination on the green mileage signs for US-50/400 West.
I'd pick Sublette over Montezuma since it's about 50% bigger in population and actually has 2 lodging establishments. Montezuma has no traditional lodging.

At least in Liberal, KS they sign Garden City for US-83 N which is 68 miles away instead of Sublette (34 mi away) which US-83 passes close to.
Yes.  The criteria afford some scope for exercise of discretion.
If US-83 passed directly through Sublette, then I'm sure it would have been the control city over Garden City. US-83 doesn't touch Sublette's city limits.
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mrsman

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Re: Non-Interstate Control Cities
« Reply #8 on: September 18, 2022, 08:57:54 AM »

I prefer surface routes to have control cities that aren't as far away as Interstate control cities.

I generally agree with the approach.

If we are talking about US routes that generally parallel an interstate route, then this should absolutely be the criteria.  In central NJ, for example, you see signs for US 1 with controls of Trenton/Newark in contrast with controls of I-95 which (should be) Philadelphia/New York City.  Bigger cities for interstate, and smaller cities for the US route.

But in some cases, the US route does provide a missing connection between two large cities.  Example US 290 between Austin and Houston.  This is a good case for using two control cities, local cities which are the primary use of the road, and the long distance cities that are also used significantly, since there is no direct interstate connection between Houston and Austin.
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achilles765

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Re: Non-Interstate Control Cities
« Reply #9 on: September 18, 2022, 09:54:45 AM »

Here in Texas it seems to be major cities for Interstates (‘mostly), the next mid-sized city for US routes and either the ultimate destination or next general city for state highways.
Which is why San Antonio, Houston, Dallas, Austin, El Paso etc are on the interstates while places like Victoria and Cleveland and Liberty and cleburne and del rio are on us highways.
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J N Winkler

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Re: Non-Interstate Control Cities
« Reply #10 on: September 18, 2022, 12:59:52 PM »

I did a long distance road trip this past March on US-54 and I thought that Wichita should have been signed from as far west as Greensburg (110 mi). However, that would involve skipping over the cities of Pratt and Kingman. At least in Pratt, Wichita got the third spot on the mileage sign at 70 miles away.

Many Wichitans agree that the city should be signed from further afield.  From the east it is--the first mileage sign after the US 54/US 69 interchange just north of Fort Scott reads Bronson 20, Iola 38, Wichita 149.
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webny99

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Re: Non-Interstate Control Cities
« Reply #11 on: September 18, 2022, 02:25:59 PM »

Also, following a route number isn't always the best/fastest route either.
It is worth mentioning that in rural areas in the west and Midwest, where this control city discussion is targeted, the numbered route is the best (or even only) way to get between two small towns acting as control cities 95% of the time. For U.S. Routes, this is given by guidance from the AASHTO in their 2000 policy book (https://web.archive.org/web/20061101234239/http://cms.transportation.org/sites/route/docs/HO1_Policy_Establ_Develop_USRN.pdf).

Granted, it does get hectic in urban areas, but in the areas the thread is discussing, either every numbered highway runs in an effectively straight line between its two control cities (Midwest), or the highway is literally the only one between two points (mountainous areas).

I was referring to cases like this or this where the fastest route between two points - even as part of a medium or long-distance corridor - uses some county or unnumbered routes and doesn't strictly follow the US/state route system.
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Re: Non-Interstate Control Cities
« Reply #12 on: September 18, 2022, 08:26:58 PM »

Kentucky uses control cities (in the traditional sense) on its parkway system. They are, for the most part, logical. The WK westbound uses Paducah even though the road does not go there, and the BG eastbound uses Lexington even though the parkway ends shy of the city.

It really doesn't use control cities on surface routes. Typically, mileages will be posted for the nearest two cities or major intersections, although there are exceptions. In Irvine, for example, mileage on KY 52 west is for Richmond and Danville. Danville isn't mentioned again until Lancaster, which is the county seat of the county adjacent to the county of which Danville is the seat. At intersections, directions are usually posted only for the nearest city, not necessary what would be considered a control city. Pull onto US 23 from an intersecting route in Johnson or Floyd counties, and the city for northbound US 23 is going to be Prestonsburg, Paintsville, or Louisa, depending on where you're entering the route. Not Ashland.
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Re: Non-Interstate Control Cities
« Reply #13 on: September 18, 2022, 08:44:34 PM »

Ohio generally uses the next city with more than a couple thousand people as the control city for non-interstates. This works when it's a rural 2-lane generally for local traffic. However, it fails when it comes to expressways that carries a good chunk of long-distance traffic, which Ohio have a bit of. Imo, those expressways should use further away control cities, just a step down from what you expect from interstates. I posted my suggestions for some of them before:

OH 161/16: Columbus, Newark, Coshocton
- First of all, remove Columbus as a WB control city on the OH 16 split from the freeway and give it to the freeway continuation. No one is going to use the 2 lane OH 16 over the freeway to Columbus from Granville; it's not even one of the route options on Google Maps.
- With Columbus used on the freeway, New Albany could be removed or signed as a secondary.
- East of Newark, the only real option is Coshocton.
- This ties into my fictional idea to swap 161 and 16 west of Granville, to keep a single route number and exit number sequence on the whole freeway section. Because 161 ends west of 16, currently, the mileposts and exit numbers drop down from where 161 ends and 16 continues the freeway, causing some duplicated exit numbers on the freeway. Two of the digits are the same, so white-out should be adequate for turning 161 signage to 16  :-D

US 23/OH 15: Portsmouth, Chillicothe, Columbus, (Delaware), (Marion), (Findlay), Toledo
- For the section south of I-270, Bye Circleville, Bye Piketon
- I placed Delaware in parenthesis as I think it's better than Toledo for NB 23 at the I-270 interchange. It's a busy 4 lane arterial between Columbus and Delaware, and traffic to Toledo also have the option to use I-71 then switch to US 36 and US 23 at Delaware. For SB, Delaware isn't necessary.
- Marion could be used too for its size, and home to an Ohio State regional campus, but it's close to Delaware, and not on any major junctions.
- Findlay could be added in for NB, as it's where OH 15 meets I-75 and is a sizable city. I chose to not include it though.

US 24: Ft Wayne, Toledo
For a US route that's really important for long distance travel (part of the shortcut for I-69 between Ft Wayne and Pt Huron), it really shouldn't have any in-state control cities west of Toledo. So goodbye Defiance and Napoleon.

US 30: Ft Wayne, Lima, Mansfield, Canton
- Ft Wayne, Mansfield and Canton are no-brainers
- Lima isn't on US 30, but it's the only sizable city between Ft Wayne and Mansfield and is close to the junction with I-75, so I chose it.
- East of Canton, it's no longer a freeway or expressway

OH 32: Cincinnati, Athens, Parkersburg
The almost 200 mile distance between Cincinnati and Athens may be a bit long, but there's not really any good options between them on OH 32. If Corridor D used US 50 instead of OH 32, Chillicothe would be perfect. But that's not the case. Also, Cincinnati is signed WB as a control city in Athens.

US 33: Columbus, Athens
- I have no idea what to do with the freeway portion northwest of Columbus, as it ends in Bellefontaine, but Marysville is a larger city. Could keep both, but it would be inconsistent to the rest of what I want to do here. Fort Wayne is another option, but it's a bit far as it's mostly 2 lane to there.
- Between Columbus and Athens, those two cities should be the primary controls. So bye Lancaster and Logan.
- Southeast of Athens, it's a 2 lane

US 35: Dayton, Chillicothe, Charleston
- Dayton is obvious
- Chillicothe is where US 35 meets US 23, and a people on US 35 WB heading to cities like Columbus or Detroit would turn north onto US 23 here.
- US 35 doesn't physically reach Charleston, but it's close enough and is the next point for long distance traffic, as there isn't any other major point in the middle.
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Re: Non-Interstate Control Cities
« Reply #14 on: September 18, 2022, 08:57:07 PM »

WVDOH actually maintains a listing of Control Destinations to be used in signage on all Interstates, U.S. Routes, State Routes and the mysterious LSR Routes (TED-220).  The one posted here on the official website is long obsolete, and if you know where to hunt you might find the most recent updates. 

Many of the routes are too short to actually post a Control Destination, and they have been tediously marked as "Intermediate or control destinations have not been established".  For some routes, the list also includes what the DOH calls "associated Intermediate destinations" (sic).  In many cases, the Control Destinations are route numbers.  Note that this listing includes two-letter abbreviations for adjacent states, but signage (including newer ones) doesn't necessarily follow the rules.

For those not familiar with West Virginia, the DOH tends to post distances and mileage to the next town on top line and the next Control Destination on the bottom line (on the Interstates, the top line is used for the next exit and the mileage traditionally signed as distance the exit itself, not the namesake).  For newer signage, the DOH sometimes adds a middle line that has either an Intermediate Destination or a Control Destination (to allow a further Control Destination to the posted on the bottom line).  Older signage in West Virginia often used the next county seat or the town with closest major intersection on the bottom line, rather than a Control Destination.
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