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Author Topic: US Virgin Islands route numbering  (Read 1206 times)

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US Virgin Islands route numbering
« on: February 03, 2019, 09:01:59 AM »

The designation of "VI-87" (Vanity Interstate 87) led me to look up the route numbering on the Virgin Islands. I found it to be very similar to Hawaii's system. If the first number is 1 or 2, the route is on the island of St. John. 3 or 4 is on St. Thomas, and 5 to 8 are on St. Croix. St. John has much less population than the other two, which are about equal.

Like Hawaii, routes are 2–4 digits, with fewer digits being more important. There are no freeways, but VI 66 is divided.

Did the US Virgin Islands model their route system after Hawaii intentionally? Is this numbering system common elsewhere on island groups?

And which board is this thread supposed to go in?
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Thing 342

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Re: US Virgin Islands route numbering
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2019, 11:04:18 AM »

Have driven (a bit) in the USVI, here's a few notes:
  • The most notable quirk of the USVI is that they drive on the left, a relic of the VI's past as a Danish colony. However, virtually all of the vehicles driven there are RHD US-spec models, meaning that it feels like you're driving on the wrong side of the road at all times.
  • Due to LHD, you'll be able to see some flipped versions of MUTCD signs only seen on the islands.
  • The USVI uses a parent-and-spur system, similar to Washington. As noted before, the first number is determined by the island. Two digit routes form the mainline, with x0 routes generally being major island-crossing routes. Three and four-digit routes are child routes, so VI 334 would be a child to VI-33, VI-7029 would be a child to VI-702, which is a child to VI-70.
  • No freeways in the USVI, though VI-66 has an expressway-like portion on St. Croix. It's also the only highway with a 55mph speed limit, iirc.
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NE2

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Re: US Virgin Islands route numbering
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2019, 01:52:08 PM »

  • The USVI uses a parent-and-spur system, similar to Washington. As noted before, the first number is determined by the island. Two digit routes form the mainline, with x0 routes generally being major island-crossing routes. Three and four-digit routes are child routes, so VI 334 would be a child to VI-33, VI-7029 would be a child to VI-702, which is a child to VI-70.
That is almost exactly what North Carolina and Virginia did in the 1920s. Virginia even had four-digit routes like 3111 and 1141.

from http://www.vahighways.com/route-log/va826-999.htm
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Re: US Virgin Islands route numbering
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2019, 02:43:15 PM »

Did the US Virgin Islands model their route system after Hawaii intentionally?

One other possibility is that the folks at what is now FHWA, who developed Hawaii's route number system just before it became a state (previously, all the highways were unnumbered, except for a mess of poorly-marked Federal aid routes and temporary wartime routes), did same for the Virgin Islands. So the systems might be related through common parentage.
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Re: US Virgin Islands route numbering
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2019, 02:59:46 PM »


The most notable quirk of the USVI is that they drive on the left, a relic of the VI's past as a Danish colony. However, virtually all of the vehicles driven there are RHD US-spec models, meaning that it feels like you're driving on the wrong side of the road at all times.




The thing is, Denmark never drove on the left.


I have seen several explanations of why the DVI now USVI follows the British practice, most likely a porous "border" between British and other colonies back in the day, but not seem authoritative.
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Thing 342

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Re: US Virgin Islands route numbering
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2019, 06:30:49 PM »

The thing is, Denmark never drove on the left.


I have seen several explanations of why the DVI now USVI follows the British practice, most likely a porous "border" between British and other colonies back in the day, but not seem authoritative.
I'm guessing it's to maintain compatibility with the rest of the English-speaking islands in the Lesser Antilles, most of which drive on the left due to their history as British colonies.
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Re: US Virgin Islands route numbering
« Reply #6 on: February 04, 2019, 01:49:47 PM »


The most notable quirk of the USVI is that they drive on the left, a relic of the VI's past as a Danish colony. However, virtually all of the vehicles driven there are RHD US-spec models, meaning that it feels like you're driving on the wrong side of the road at all times.

The thing is, Denmark never drove on the left.

I have seen several explanations of why the DVI now USVI follows the British practice, most likely a porous "border" between British and other colonies back in the day, but not seem authoritative.

In general, the practice of driving on the right is a result of teamsters needing to make sure their whole wagon and team of animals kept clear of any oncoming traffic.  These teamsters sat on the left side, thereby allowing them to control the team with their dominant hand.  As such, the clearest view of oncoming traffic was when everyone kept to the right.  Before this development, mounted traffic tended to circulate on the left, which afforded the rider or driver his dominant hand to either defend or greet any oncoming traffic.  As was seemingly natural, horse and donkey cart traffic on the VI circulated on the left at the time it was colonized, and there was no reason for that custom to change after colonization in the 1700s.  When the US purchased the VI from Denmark in 1917, it had only been four years since Ford began mass-producing the Model T, and the Model A wouldn't even come out for another 10˝ years.  The US acquisition of the VI was a bit of a touchy subject for the locals, and so—motorized transportation not having taken off yet on the islands—making people immediately switch sides of the road for no good reason wasn't exactly a priority of the new government.
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abefroman329

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Re: US Virgin Islands route numbering
« Reply #7 on: February 04, 2019, 02:18:45 PM »

I can't say I've ever read a compelling explanation as to why some countries drive on the left and some on the right, although I've read explanations that predate the use of teams of horses by a few hundred years.  I've also read about entities changing from driving on the left to driving on the right during the automobile age with little or no difficulty.

Frankly, you'd think the USVI would be a slam dunk in terms of changing from driving on the left to driving on the right; most, if not all, of the vehicles are left-hand-drive anyway since they're imported from the US (it looks like something similar is taking hold in the Bahamas).
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Re: US Virgin Islands route numbering
« Reply #8 on: February 04, 2019, 02:28:12 PM »

^^ A lot goes into how and why people drive on the right or left.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left-_and_right-hand_traffic

The teamsters part of it only applies to the US.
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Re: US Virgin Islands route numbering
« Reply #9 on: February 05, 2019, 09:48:53 AM »

^^ A lot goes into how and why people drive on the right or left.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Left-_and_right-hand_traffic

The teamsters part of it only applies to the US.
Jeez, I'd forgotten about the countries where road and rail traffic run on opposite sides...Should I edit that page to reflect the fact that Metra's three former C&NW passenger routes have left-hand running?
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Re: US Virgin Islands route numbering
« Reply #10 on: February 05, 2019, 02:51:57 PM »

Jeez, I'd forgotten about the countries where road and rail traffic run on opposite sides...Should I edit that page to reflect the fact that Metra's three former C&NW passenger routes have left-hand running?

Left-hand drive for railroads is very, very common worldwide.  All of China, for example.  High-speed intercity rail in France (TGV) also operates on the left.  Several subway systems do as well.
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Joe The Dragon

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Re: US Virgin Islands route numbering
« Reply #11 on: February 06, 2019, 08:07:52 AM »

Jeez, I'd forgotten about the countries where road and rail traffic run on opposite sides...Should I edit that page to reflect the fact that Metra's three former C&NW passenger routes have left-hand running?

Left-hand drive for railroads is very, very common worldwide.  All of China, for example.  High-speed intercity rail in France (TGV) also operates on the left.  Several subway systems do as well.
It also comes from the old days then they went from 1 track to 2 or more where the stations where in place and when they added tracks the tracks where not next to the main platform
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Re: US Virgin Islands route numbering
« Reply #12 on: February 06, 2019, 09:46:52 AM »

Jeez, I'd forgotten about the countries where road and rail traffic run on opposite sides...Should I edit that page to reflect the fact that Metra's three former C&NW passenger routes have left-hand running?

Left-hand drive for railroads is very, very common worldwide.  All of China, for example.  High-speed intercity rail in France (TGV) also operates on the left.  Several subway systems do as well.
It also comes from the old days then they went from 1 track to 2 or more where the stations where in place and when they added tracks the tracks where not next to the main platform
That's exactly what happened on the C&NW - the stations were on the right side of the track when it was single-track, then they double-tracked, then they reasoned that there would be more customers buying tickets for trains bound for Chicago than trains leaving Chicago, so the trains run on the left.
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Re: US Virgin Islands route numbering
« Reply #13 on: February 06, 2019, 12:49:13 PM »

When I lived in Chicagoland, I thought trains running on the left was completely normal everywhere, simply because the Metra lines I used most often ran on the left.
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Re: US Virgin Islands route numbering
« Reply #14 on: February 07, 2019, 12:02:40 AM »

A couple other things to note.

The standard route shield is a goddamned circle. Most routes have at least one shield somewhere, but signage is not consistently present and where it does exist it may be knocked askew, as seen here:


or half-hidden behind overgrown vegetation, as seen here:


And as those two photos also demonstrate, sometimes they go to an oval instead of a circle for 3-digit routes... but only sometimes.


License plate numbers are also grouped geographically. (Non-vanity) passenger car plates all begin with J, T, or C depending on which island they are registered on.
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Re: US Virgin Islands route numbering
« Reply #15 on: February 07, 2019, 03:21:49 PM »

I think the poor signage is due to the fact that it's highly unlikely that there are going to be drivers that are completely unfamiliar with the road they're driving on (i.e. only locals driving on them, not tourists or out-of-towners).  I only rented a car on St. Thomas because we didn't know until arriving at the airport that you couldn't check your bags and go back into Charlotte Amalie due to the CBP pre-clearance setup, and that was only for a few hours; I would've been perfectly happy not renting one at all, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.
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Re: US Virgin Islands route numbering
« Reply #16 on: February 07, 2019, 05:31:41 PM »

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Re: US Virgin Islands route numbering
« Reply #18 on: February 09, 2019, 12:53:48 AM »

I think the poor signage is due to the fact that it's highly unlikely that there are going to be drivers that are completely unfamiliar with the road they're driving on (i.e. only locals driving on them, not tourists or out-of-towners).  I only rented a car on St. Thomas because we didn't know until arriving at the airport that you couldn't check your bags and go back into Charlotte Amalie due to the CBP pre-clearance setup, and that was only for a few hours; I would've been perfectly happy not renting one at all, and I'm sure I'm not the only one.

Eh, the locals do not use route numbers and have no idea for the most part that they even exist.

The reason signage is so poor is because:

1) Laid back island culture. Having consistent and thorough signage would be a greater degree of organization than anyone thinks is worth the bother.

2) Hurricanes. Over a year after Irma and Maria, the Virgin Islands still have buildings with missing roofs:


intersections with destroyed and inoperable traffic signals that haven't been replaced:


and even a couple places where roads were made impassible by landslides and they haven't been repaired:


The storms surely blew a bunch of signs away too, but fixing that just isn't a priority compared to the other more severe damage still out there. Recovering from being directly hit by a major hurricane is a slow process for places on the mainland, for islands the difficulty and expense of getting supplies and other resources in only makes it worse.

I spotted a couple utility trucks on St Thomas with New York plates when I was there. Presumably they were flown in to help fix the power grid after the hurricanes, and they're still there because that work is still ongoing. Any business that's open has power, but it is clear there are some corners of the islands where you see those roofless buildings where it hasn't been restored yet.



As for renting a car, I did, but I was explicitly looking forward to driving on the wrong side of the road. I also wanted to clinch the routes on St Thomas / field verify for TravelMapping which ones are signed.


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Thing 342

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Re: US Virgin Islands route numbering
« Reply #19 on: February 09, 2019, 01:17:51 AM »

The last time I was there was before the hurricanes (2014), and signage was still mostly an afterthought. Honestly, I was somewhat surprised that there was signage at all the first time I went there.

They are a bit weird as to where they place signage though, I found this one in the core tourist area in Charlotte Amalie, right smack in the middle of a tight street with heavy pedestrian traffic:
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Re: US Virgin Islands route numbering
« Reply #20 on: February 10, 2019, 08:50:22 PM »

Whatever picture you attempted to post is showing up only as a gray "do not enter" symbol on my computer. Either the link is bad or it's hosted somewhere that disallows hotlinking.
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Re: US Virgin Islands route numbering
« Reply #21 on: February 10, 2019, 09:04:43 PM »

As for renting a car, I did, but I was explicitly looking forward to driving on the wrong right side of the road. I also wanted to clinch the routes on St Thomas / field verify for TravelMapping which ones are signed.
FTFY. Correct me if I'm wrong, but isn't driving right wrong where one drives left? Or is driving wrong right? A question left to meditate.
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Re: US Virgin Islands route numbering
« Reply #22 on: March 27, 2019, 09:41:35 AM »

It's "Route Not Found".

As well as DE 404.
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Re: US Virgin Islands route numbering
« Reply #23 on: March 27, 2019, 04:22:44 PM »

Is this numbering system common elsewhere on island groups?
Relatively common, yes.

Cluster systems are also not that uncommon in places where there's no physical barriers between clusters - eg French Autoroutes (which are loosely, and with exception like the Parisian Radials: 1 Paris area, 2 North, 3 East, 4 northern Alps, 5 southern Alps, 6 SW, 7 Massif Central and 8 the NW).
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