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Author Topic: Why are both I-494 and I-694 necessary?  (Read 6728 times)

A.J. Bertin

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Why are both I-494 and I-694 necessary?
« on: November 15, 2015, 10:17:36 PM »

Why is the beltway around the Twin Cities split up into two separate Interstate highway numbers? Why can't it all just be I-494? I'm curious as to what thoughts people have as to why both numbers, 494 and 694, are necessary.
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Stratuscaster

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Re: Why are both I-494 and I-694 necessary?
« Reply #1 on: November 15, 2015, 10:40:58 PM »

To avoid the whole "Inner Loop/Belt, Outer Loop/Belt" scenario and just use E-W cardinal directions would be my guess.

Also the benefit of knowing that 694 is on the north side of things, and 494 on the south side.
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Re: Why are both I-494 and I-694 necessary?
« Reply #2 on: November 15, 2015, 10:42:41 PM »

It's been that way since they were conceived in the 50s. My guess is because I-694 is the recommended route for bypassing the downtowns. I-494 is far longer and seems to more adequately serve the south and west suburbs. On that level, it makes sense.
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Re: Why are both I-494 and I-694 necessary?
« Reply #3 on: November 15, 2015, 10:58:40 PM »

I wish FDOT thought of that when they did the full loop I-295 around Jacksonville.  Now its signed East Beltway I-295 and West Beltway I-295.  If the eastern loop became either I-495 or I-695 it would be much more easier.
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Re: Why are both I-494 and I-694 necessary?
« Reply #4 on: November 16, 2015, 01:39:56 AM »

There are a few quirks to the 494-694 loop. 

The numbers where applied by MHD (MN Highway Department now MnDOT) to Federal Highways as separate designations from the beginning in 1956. 

It is actually nice from a driver perspective to have the two separate designations.  The north (694) - south (494) differences and the thru traffic bypass are good theories.  There probably was a bit of politics involved as well in terms of what numbers were used and why it has two separate designations as there has always been political undertones between north and south metro for highway construction dollars (south metro, particularly the SW has received more funding and it's projects get funded first).

The few quirks include the two separate numbers for the same roadway.  The fact the mileage markers start at 0 at the MN River and are the same for both number designations.  Lastly, when 694 is running concurrently with 94 the mileage marker/exit numbers are based on 694, not 94 (which is weird as the mileage markers should be based on the parent interstate, not the 3 digit).
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TheHighwayMan394

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Re: Why are both I-494 and I-694 necessary?
« Reply #5 on: November 16, 2015, 01:47:02 AM »

Lastly, when 694 is running concurrently with 94 the mileage marker/exit numbers are based on 694, not 94 (which is weird as the mileage markers should be based on the parent interstate, not the 3 digit).

As a result, I-94 technically exits itself heading westbound at the 494/694 split in Maple Grove. :D

I seem to remember reading some years ago that it was done to prevent route number confusion. Although I-494 still has two separate N/S signed sections (between I-94/694 in Woodbury at the eastern termini of the 3dis and US 10/61 in Newport, and from US 212/MN 5 in Eden Prairie to the I-94/694 interchange in Maple Grove at the western termini of the 3dis).

Although I will say for me that because of the split numbers, having lived here as long as I have sometimes I forget they form a beltway together because I have come to view them as separate routes with different purposes. 494 is probably the third-most important Interstate highway in Minnesota; it serves either directly or indirectly some of MSP's largest as well as some of its wealthiest suburbs, the airport, and the Mall of America. I-694 feels much more like a "through" route than 494 does.
« Last Edit: November 16, 2015, 02:00:56 AM by TheHighwayMan394 »
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froggie

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Re: Why are both I-494 and I-694 necessary?
« Reply #6 on: November 16, 2015, 08:28:07 AM »

Pretty sure we had a thread on this in the past, but I can't find it.

Anyway, FightingIrish basically pointed it out already.  694 is the core bypass, while 494 is a southern beltline.  The two really do serve different functions/travelsheds, and so that's why they have separate numbers.

Regarding why the 94/694 commons uses 694's exit numbers, it's likely due to traffic flow, though it goes against the usual grain as Roadguy suggests.  At the eastern split, more traffic follows 694 across the Mississippi than follows 94 south towards downtown Minneapolis.
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Re: Why are both I-494 and I-694 necessary?
« Reply #7 on: November 16, 2015, 03:21:11 PM »

I wonder if the date of completion had something to do with it too.  Somewhere I've got a map from 1980 that showed a large chunk of 494 still unbuilt, while 694 was finished.  If you wanted to tell someone how to bypass the Twin Cities then (and reconnect with 94 on the other side), you'd have to say 694.  And you'd still likely say that given the difference in distance caused by 94 itself coming out/in the "top left corner" of the metro on the west side versus the center on the "right side." 

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Re: Why are both I-494 and I-694 necessary?
« Reply #8 on: November 16, 2015, 06:36:08 PM »

Quote
I wonder if the date of completion had something to do with it too.

I doubt it.  The designations were in place no later than 1959.
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roadman65

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Re: Why are both I-494 and I-694 necessary?
« Reply #9 on: November 16, 2015, 07:07:38 PM »



 

  Lastly, when 694 is running concurrently with 94 the mileage marker/exit numbers are based on 694, not 94 (which is weird as the mileage markers should be based on the parent interstate, not the 3 digit).

Yes that, you figure, would cause confusion being that long distance travelers use it as supposed to locals, even though a commuter route.   The three digit routes are known to locals as just a local freeway and could easily adapt to different exit numbering.  Just as residents of Alexandria, VA did with I-95 mileage taking place over the overall I-495 in VA which is the main number for the Capital Beltway, which most people in Alexandria, I am sure, refer to road as by name.
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Re: Why are both I-494 and I-694 necessary?
« Reply #10 on: November 16, 2015, 07:46:57 PM »

Quote
Just as residents of Alexandria, VA did with I-95 mileage taking place over the overall I-495 in VA which is the main number for the Capital Beltway, which most people in Alexandria, I am sure, refer to road as by name.

There's a difference.  When I-95 was moved to the Beltway, I-495 was dropped entirely.  No such droppage occurred with I-694.
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TheHighwayMan394

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Re: Why are both I-494 and I-694 necessary?
« Reply #11 on: November 16, 2015, 09:02:21 PM »

Lastly, when 694 is running concurrently with 94 the mileage marker/exit numbers are based on 694, not 94 (which is weird as the mileage markers should be based on the parent interstate, not the 3 digit).

Yes that, you figure, would cause confusion being that long distance travelers use it as supposed to locals, even though a commuter route.   The three digit routes are known to locals as just a local freeway and could easily adapt to different exit numbering.  Just as residents of Alexandria, VA did with I-95 mileage taking place over the overall I-495 in VA which is the main number for the Capital Beltway, which most people in Alexandria, I am sure, refer to road as by name.

But at the same time I-94 and I-694 are fully co-signed just about without fail (the exception being where only I-94 is indicated as heading westbound when approaching 94/694 on US 169). So there's no confusion regarding the route numbers, which I think matters more than the exit numbers.
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Re: Why are both I-494 and I-694 necessary?
« Reply #12 on: November 16, 2015, 10:26:27 PM »

The better question to ask instead of the OP is why is I-694 even overlapped with I-94 anyway?  At the western end I-694 ends with the overlap and as far as the exiting numbers go, that gives it a reason to keep I-94's scheme as I-694 ends randomly.  Plus it continues as another interstate anyway.

I-494 and I-694 should have separate exit numbers, but then again IDOT does one better with I-70 east of I-55 using exit numbers that make I-70 appear almost 5 miles less than it actually is because it continues I-270's scheme instead of continuing its own from where it leaves I-55 now.  Heck it may be more now that the Stan Musial Bridge is completed shortening I-70's mileage in Illinois by another mile if that what it did.
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Re: Why are both I-494 and I-694 necessary?
« Reply #13 on: November 17, 2015, 12:33:12 AM »

I've heard this rationale over and over for the split numbering on the TC beltline but it brings up an interesting question.  Why is this only an issue in Minnesota?

There a many other full beltlines around the country that have one number and nobody seems to be confused.  What's so special about the Twin Cities that one number for the beltline is confusing?
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Re: Why are both I-494 and I-694 necessary?
« Reply #14 on: November 17, 2015, 06:56:04 AM »

I thought the main reason I-694 overlaps with I-94 was because it took them until the 1980's to build I-94 between MN 55 and I-694, by which point I-694 had been established for some time.  Was I-94 always supposed to follow the route it does going north from downtown Minneapolis?
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Re: Why are both I-494 and I-694 necessary?
« Reply #15 on: November 17, 2015, 07:30:46 AM »

Quote
Was I-94 always supposed to follow the route it does going north from downtown Minneapolis?

Since the late 1950s, yes.
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Re: Why are both I-494 and I-694 necessary?
« Reply #16 on: November 17, 2015, 01:03:42 PM »

I think a similar approach can be made regarding the I-255/I-270 beltway around St. Louis.
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Re: Why are both I-494 and I-694 necessary?
« Reply #17 on: November 17, 2015, 09:39:13 PM »

I've heard this rationale over and over for the split numbering on the TC beltline but it brings up an interesting question.  Why is this only an issue in Minnesota?

There a many other full beltlines around the country that have one number and nobody seems to be confused.  What's so special about the Twin Cities that one number for the beltline is confusing?
Not sure about "special" - might be that folks in places with loops with one number are just used to it.
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Re: Why are both I-494 and I-694 necessary?
« Reply #18 on: November 17, 2015, 09:42:13 PM »

I think a similar approach can be made regarding the I-255/I-270 beltway around St. Louis.
However, I-270 goes beyond I-255's northern terminus as it ends at I-55 & I-70 at the place they split.  In fact I-70 carries I-270's exit numbers to the Indiana Border.
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Re: Why are both I-494 and I-694 necessary?
« Reply #19 on: November 17, 2015, 10:10:45 PM »

^ There was an attempt to have only one number for the St. Louis beltway, but it didn't go anywhere.  See Kurumi's entry for I-870.

I'd lean towards having multiple numbers for one loop/bypass being a small fad since the following were proposed or used to exist (also per Kurumi's site):

* I-281 and I-481 for Syracuse
* I-255 and I-240 for the now I-40/I-240 loop in the Memphis area
* I-215 and I-415 for Salt Lake City

EDIT:  Although the phenomenon also still kind of exists with I-280 and I-680 in the San Francisco Bay Area as well.
« Last Edit: November 17, 2015, 10:12:55 PM by Revive 755 »
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Re: Why are both I-494 and I-694 necessary?
« Reply #20 on: November 19, 2015, 04:17:07 PM »

The only problem I have with Intestates 494/694 is the existing exit sequence. I think Interstate 694's Mile 0 should be at the western junction and the exit numbers should rise as one goes east. Interstate 494's Mile 0 should also be at the western junction and should rise as one goes east, although 494's Mile 0 could alternatively be at the eastern junction, and rise as one goes west, as it does today.
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Re: Why are both I-494 and I-694 necessary?
« Reply #21 on: November 20, 2015, 03:32:47 PM »

I've heard this rationale over and over for the split numbering on the TC beltline but it brings up an interesting question.  Why is this only an issue in Minnesota?

There a many other full beltlines around the country that have one number and nobody seems to be confused.  What's so special about the Twin Cities that one number for the beltline is confusing?

I think one aspect of I-94 needs mentioning here, which may explain both I-494 and I-694.  Coming from Wisconsin, I-94 goes straight west through downtown St. Paul and then downtown Minneapolis.  But when it leaves the Twin Cities area, it goes northwest, towards St. Cloud and Fargo.  If I-94 had been built to follow a route essentially paralleling US 12, there would be only one number for the beltway.  But then North Dakota would be screwed out of the Interstate highway system.
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Re: Why are both I-494 and I-694 necessary?
« Reply #22 on: November 21, 2015, 02:26:15 AM »

I've heard this rationale over and over for the split numbering on the TC beltline but it brings up an interesting question.  Why is this only an issue in Minnesota?

There a many other full beltlines around the country that have one number and nobody seems to be confused.  What's so special about the Twin Cities that one number for the beltline is confusing?

I think one aspect of I-94 needs mentioning here, which may explain both I-494 and I-694.  Coming from Wisconsin, I-94 goes straight west through downtown St. Paul and then downtown Minneapolis.  But when it leaves the Twin Cities area, it goes northwest, towards St. Cloud and Fargo.  If I-94 had been built to follow a route essentially paralleling US 12, there would be only one number for the beltway.  But then North Dakota would be screwed out of the Interstate highway system.

But as far as I know, building I-94 along its present alignment (replacing MN 152 and US 52) was always the original plan.
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Re: Why are both I-494 and I-694 necessary?
« Reply #23 on: November 21, 2015, 05:12:08 PM »

^ Correct.  I-94 was always intended to head northwest towards St. Cloud and eventually North Dakota.
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