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Author Topic: Will a 2 digit interstate ever be decomissioned? And can it be done?  (Read 13254 times)

kphoger

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Re: Will a 2 digit interstate ever be decomissioned? And can it be done?
« Reply #125 on: February 23, 2023, 04:19:09 PM »

I am baffled why they didn't pick one to be I-69 and make the rest 3dis of I-69

This has been explained:

Back in 2010, I (via my consulting entity) submitted a paper to the Alliance for I-69 Texas suggesting just that except for designating US 281 as I-169.  Their response was that they were inclined to follow the original "placeholder" designations of "Central" & "East" as the signed designations (a) because it followed the "letter of the law" as laid out in the HPC 18 legislative description, and (b) so as not to confuse the legislators tasked with pushing the various funding bills through Congress.  Obviously they followed suit with the "69W" designation to Laredo using the same rationale. 

My take on this is the Alliance used the "69" number as a virtual trademark -- to the extent that each aspect of the corridor was to retain some sort of reference to 69.  Frankly, I was shocked to see that they had selected I-2 for the US 83 connector; I had expected it would be I-569 or something similar.  But since no suffix was previously suggested for the Freer-Corpus added segment, I wouldn't be surprised if, when funding is sought for any activity on that segment, that it comes with a I-6 designation to match I-2 to the south as a "cross-trident" connector.

I guess the Alliance didn't trust their selected Congressional critters to do anything except walk & talk a straight line between point A (concept) and point B (funding & construction).

It took a literal interpretation of an act of Congress (the authorization of HPC 18 and the subsequent Interstate designation) to get the W-C-E 69 "trident" into the Interstate lexicon (although "West" was never legislatively specified).  I'm sure many of us thought the "east" and "central" routings within that legislation were merely placeholders and not the final definition (I certainly did) -- but TxDOT and the Alliance for I-69 Texas thought otherwise -- and had the final say.   In other words, the folks who started the dance to begin with were able to dictate what the decorations looked like!

Back circa late 2010 or early 2011 I submitted an analysis to the Alliance for I-69 Texas, in which I stated that the suffixed branches within the I-69 cluster were simply placeholders, since they were spelled out rather than stated as a single suffixed number (i.e. I-69 East vis-à-vis I-69E), and as such, could be changed quite easily by a simple alteration of the HPC 18/20 language.  I suggested that I-69 itself replace I-69 East down to the border at Brownsville; that the segment along US 59 from Laredo to Victoria should become I-6, and that I-69 Central become I-169, which would then shunt east over US 83 to the main I-69 trunk at Harlingen (no I-2 in sight for this proposal).  Also: the segment from Tenaha north to Texarkana should be I-47.  Part of the rationale I expressed to the Alliance was that the suffixed numbers violated FHWA and AASHTO guidelines -- and although the legislated aspect of the corridor designations did in fact allow them to ignore those guidelines, it might be more appropriate from a regional standpoint to consider better-fitting alternative designations. 

The response was that while my ideas had merit, the Congresspersons on board the proposal didn't want to "rock the boat" by substituting numbers that late in the game, that all their documentation referred to the branches as some form of the original "69" proposal -- besides, it had become recognized as a sort of "trademark" for the proposal in general and that the internal preference was for some iteration of "69" to be applied to all corridors covered by the original legislation (obviously that didn't apply to the I-2 corridor, as it was addressed separately and later). 

And that was the end of that!  However, when I-2 was designated a couple of years later, I was as surprised as anyone -- fully expecting US 83 to be I-169 or I-569, etc. to "keep it in the family", so to speak.  I guess the Laredo-bound ambitions of that corridor had a bit to do with the choice. 

Nevertheless, Congressfolks can and do override AASHTO and/or FHWA internal criteria; that's how the E-C-W branches of I-69 came about.  Actually, the directional references were originally simply "placeholders" within the original legislation, designed to describe the relative orientation of the branches -- but both the Alliance for I-69/Texas and their cohorts at TXDOT took a truly literalist view of the legislation, hence the field-posted suffixed shields (with more to come).   

Back in late 2010 I actually wrote a numbering proposal to the Alliance for I-69 Texas, suggesting the following:  I-69 mainline down what's now I-69E, I-6 along I-69W, and I-169 for I-69C, which would have turned east on what's now I-2 to Harlingen.  Also: I-47 for the I-369 corridor (hey, it's 115 miles long!).  Received a reply after a few weeks stating that as far as numbering, their hands were tied by the legal definitions attached to the original HPC 18 & 20 legislation.  I shot back that those appeared to be simply "placeholder" designations to delineate the three branches (and 69W wasn't even mentioned in the original language), and that any of their "pet" area congressfolks could slip in amendments to specify different numbers.  That got a quick reply essentially inferring that they didn't want to deviate one little bit from the original legislation, since the support for the project was on relatively thin ice at the time (this was around the time of the 2010 midterm elections) and that some of the newly elected conservatives from TX would have to be persuaded to support the concept and its associated expenditures -- and that selling the whole "69" package as is to the new congressional delegation was job #1 in order to maintain what progress was being made.  Thus, to them, every segment of the cluster had to reference the number "69" to avoid confusing those legislators who weren't the sharpest pencils in the box!  :sleep:

At that point I simply rolled my eyes, figuring any further comment would be pointless.  But if they were dealing with elected legislators, I could -- with some imaginative stretch -- see their POV; they'd put a lot more aggregate effort into their corridor than had I!  But I still think my ideas had some merit -- but the chances of any changes being made is ultra-slim -- now that there is nascent suffixed signage on all 3 branches (plus I-2!).

... the numbering aspect of the I-69 corridor cluster has been hashed out repeatedly within this forum; the current suffixed situation boils down to TxDOT and the major corridor promoter, the Alliance for I-69/Texas electing to make any corridor authorized by the language of high priority corridors 18 & 20 refer to the main trunk number "69" in some way or form.  Most of us thought the authorizing language's reference to "east" and "central" would have been a mere referential placeholder -- but the two governing entities thought otherwise, choosing to take a very literal approach to the numbering -- hence the suffixes (I'm certain that if I-369 would have been dubbed "I-69N" it would have been accepted and formalized as well!).  I-2 was exempt from that as it wasn't a part of the original authorized corridor bundle.  At this point, with signage already posted, any suggestion regarding designation change wouldn't make it past the front desk within the official circles handling the project.   

No the "trident" actually dates back to the late 90s and was certainly discussed on MTR though not extensively.  For example...

https://groups.google.com/g/misc.transport.road/c/AJEIdQWFToU/m/TVnXZufPRq4J

https://groups.google.com/g/misc.transport.road/c/X9Foxr3CObc/m/iuWSXPs4PnoJ

Furthermore, the MTR posts also quoted the original House bill, which stated both that "the segment identified in subsection (c)(18)(B)(ii) shall be designated as Interstate Route I-69 Central" and that "the segment identified in subsection (c)(18)(B)(i) shall be designated as Interstate Route I-69 East".  And all of the ensuing discussion happened before the creation of AARoads.

The actual Interstate designations waited until those segments were ready for and requested to be added to the Interstate system proper...this is what vdeane makes her reference to.

However, reading through the actual TEA-21 legislation (copied in the 1998 MTR post linked upthread), the legislation makes it pretty clear that I-69C and I-69E were written into Federal law in that act (much as I-99 had been previous to that), so with those two routes it was "settled" in 1998 when TEA-21 was passed.
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RobbieL2415

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Re: Will a 2 digit interstate ever be decomissioned? And can it be done?
« Reply #126 on: February 24, 2023, 10:58:02 AM »

Someone mentioned the OG I-86 and I-84, but also rememember that originally the highway from Hartford to Providence was going to be I-82.
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skluth

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Re: Will a 2 digit interstate ever be decomissioned? And can it be done?
« Reply #127 on: February 24, 2023, 04:50:49 PM »

When the Big One hits, and California drops into the ocean, they'll have to decommission a few...

It's a transform plate boundary out there. Ain't shit gonna sink below the ocean.  If anything, earthquakes wrinkle land higher along the San Andreas system of faults.  That's what's going on with all those hills in the West Bay.

If any calamity is going to decom a mainline interstate, it'll be sea level rise drowning something.

The parts of California most likely to go underwater are the river confluence area around Stockton and the Salton Sink. The most decommission candidate IMO is I-4 should most of Florida either become ocean or revert back to swamp. I-12 along the north edge of Lake Pontchartrain is also a good candidate. 
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CoreySamson

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Re: Will a 2 digit interstate ever be decomissioned? And can it be done?
« Reply #128 on: February 24, 2023, 06:05:23 PM »

I-12 along the north edge of Lake Pontchartrain is also a good candidate.
I'd think it would be a bit more likely that I-12 would get decommissioned by having I-10 rerouted over it in the scenario that New Orleans sinks underwater.
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Scott5114

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Re: Will a 2 digit interstate ever be decomissioned? And can it be done?
« Reply #129 on: February 24, 2023, 06:13:54 PM »

The real thing that bothers me about I-99 isn't the number being out of grid–that sucks, but I see it as the same "ah, what else can you do?" situation that I-11 is in–it's how it got the number to begin with. What is or isn't an interstate, and especially what number is assigned, should be the decision of the career officials at the DOT, not some two-bit elected official trying to make a name for himself.

How does this compare to your feelings about the I-69xyz web in south Texas?

I-69* is worse than I-99 because not only was the numbering system hijacked by elected officials there, it wasn't even done in a way that makes a whole lot of sense. At least you can say I-99 makes navigation easier by making the freeway route clearly labeled as such. I-69 is just baffling to anyone who doesn't intuitively "get" road numbering. ("Wait, get on I-69E? But I want to go south! Won't going east make me drive into the Gulf?")

I-2 is cool and can stay.

I-69E, the E is in the shield and thus part of the route number.
It's totally different from EAST I-69.

Also, when I-69E appears, there must be another ramp towards I-69C and I-69W.
Drivers will know that the route is being split.

No shit? You and I know that because we know how these things work, but there are some people with licenses that are still unclear on the concepts of things like what an "exit only" lane is or whether you can go on a flashing yellow arrow.

And the exact example I gave was one that I had to work around from my Kansas family members when trying to give them directions involving I-35W in Fort Worth ("wait, am I supposed to go south or west on I-35?"), so it's not like it's never happened. And yes, they had a map in front of them with I-35 and I-35W shields on it, so they could even see what I was talking about and still had a problem understanding it.
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kphoger

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Re: Will a 2 digit interstate ever be decomissioned? And can it be done?
« Reply #130 on: February 24, 2023, 07:00:42 PM »

I mean, it makes sense.  The number is 35W, not 35WEST.  Or 69E, not 69EAST.

I haven't referred to the 35 splits as "THIRTY-FIVE EAST" or "THIRTY-FIVE WEST" in years, just to make sure I'm being clear.  It's always "THIRTY-FIVE E" or "THIRTY-FIVE DOUBLE-U".

The problem, however, is when people actually DO interpret the letters to mean what they almost kind of mean.  If someone driving north through Iowa sees a VMS that says "I 35 N CLOSED @ US 20 / USE ALT ROUTE", they would correctly interpret it as "INTERSTATE 35 NORTH".  But later, when they get to Minnesota and see a VMS that says "I 35W CLOSED AT I 494 / USE ALT ROUTE", they might think it doesn't apply to them because they aren't going west.
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Scott5114

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Re: Will a 2 digit interstate ever be decomissioned? And can it be done?
« Reply #131 on: February 24, 2023, 09:55:04 PM »

Right, and there are roads where the letter has nothing to do with the direction, too. Oklahoma 74E is west of Oklahoma 74, it's just the fifth spur route that was designated off of 74. (There's also a 74B, 74C, and 74F, and there were A and D at one point in time.)

But what I'm getting at is we know this stuff because we live and breathe it. People who have never encountered it before until they try driving in Texas the first time might interpret it right the first time, or they might not. But it would be better to eliminate the possibility for any confusion by avoiding directional suffixes entirely.
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Rick Powell

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Re: Will a 2 digit interstate ever be decomissioned? And can it be done?
« Reply #132 on: February 25, 2023, 12:34:44 AM »

Plenty of railroads over the years have gone from double track to single track in order to cut down on costs.  Could something like that apply to an Interstate?
I-180 in Illinois would be a top candidate, and it has been studied, but no real movement to do so. Maintaining additional lanes costs money, but lane removals do too. IDOT just rehabbed the 4-lane IL River bridge, so they are apparently not in a hurry.
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