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I-70 western Kansas control cities

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We just got back from a weekend trip to Denver and I couldn't help but notice the varying control cities on signs along I-70 from Hays to Denver. At US-183 and I-70 in Hays, Denver is listed as the control city, but then as you head further west it's usually Limon. Sometimes the city listed is a smaller city closer in vicinity, like WaKeeney, Oakley or Goodland, but on most it's Limon. Same for eastbound I-70, most list Hays as the control city but sometimes it's Salina or some smaller town in between.

I know nothing when it comes to who picks the control city and why, so I just googled it and it brought me to the AASHTO website. There I found this document ( from 2004 where apparently the state tried to get Goodland designated as a control city and was shot down. But it also looks like these are just guidelines and the state can do whatever it wants in the end? I'm not sure I'm understanding this correctly, I'm just trying to get my head wrapped around nearly all the westbound I-70 control signs west of Hays having some po-dunk town in Colorado as the control.

Somewhere during my google search it said Limon was a control because of the junction of so many highways there (US 24, 40, 287, CO-71), but it has less than 2,000 people and not even a hospital. I'd propose that Hays and Colby would serve as better control cities in Kansas. It just doesn't make sense to me that KDOT is signing for a town of less than 2,000 people in another state as far east as Russell (184 miles from the border.) It seems to me if KDOT has any flexibility at all, they should be signing control cities in Kansas as much as possible. It's kind of hard to not look at the area as flyover country when the state's own DOT doesn't even consider it important enough to sign.

I bring this up because I also noticed new BGS being installed along I-70 in various spots, Hays being one. The US-183 exit now has Hays and Stockton as control cities for US-183 instead of Hays and Plainville. Again, why the change, I have no idea, but I was hoping someone out there could shed some light on all of this for me.


Control cities are done the same way AASHTO does everything else–they try to keep all the states on the same page, but it's up to the states to police themselves against AASHTO policy since it has no power to do so itself. US routes are the same way; most of US 377 in Oklahoma was outright rejected by AASHTO in various forms a total of six times, but ODOT went ahead and signed it anyway.

I think really if any change is to be made the control cities should be restricted to Denver and Topeka. The way I see it, the purpose of control cities is to give the traveler an idea of where the road is headed to. That goal can only be met if the majority of travelers have heard of that location. Most people will not be familiar with Hays, WaKeeney, Oakley, Goodland, Colby, or Limon, and may well be unable to correctly guess which of those are in Colorado and which are in Kansas. (The only reason I have ever heard of Limon is because it is a control city.) If used at all, I feel they should be used only alongside the more major city (like WaKeeney/Denver, Limon/Denver, Hays/Topeka, Salina/Topeka, etc.) This is how Oklahoma handles control cities and it works well–I-35 SB from OKC is Dallas, not Purcell, Pauls Valley, or Ardmore; I-40 WB is Amarillo, not El Reno, Weatherford, Clinton, Elk City, or Sayre, I-44 WB is Lawton, not Chickasha, I-44 EB from Tulsa is Joplin, not Miami.

This is the same situation as I-80 in PA.  Major interchanges should use Denver/Topeka; minor interchanges should use the next decent -sized city each way.

Yes, I certainly see your point. I just think it ought to be all or nothing. Why sign an interchange one time for WaKeeney/Oakley and then 5 miles down the road it's Hays/Limon, or Salina/Denver? And it's not just control cities but distance signs as well. Nearly all of them west of Russell list the distance to Limon. Why? Who cares? Wouldn't the mileage to Denver be much more usable? Once you get back in Kansas, the distance signs on eastbound 70 make much more sense to me... Hays, Salina and Topeka.

Even more shocking to me was driving around Denver and seeing them plaster Limon as a control city for NB 225 (coming from SB 25 to NB 225.) Even as you approach I-70 from I-225, Limon is the only city mentioned. It seems to me if you're driving around Denver and trying to go east on I-70, Topeka or Kansas City would make more sense. Even on the Kansas Turnpike Denver is listed on BGSs for I-70 westbound.

Some signs in Tulsa point to Joplin/Claremore for EB I-44.


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