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Author Topic: Mexico Federal Highway System and driving observations  (Read 306 times)

Max Rockatansky

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Mexico Federal Highway System and driving observations
« on: February 25, 2020, 06:19:32 PM »

I figured that I would split this from the Map Data thread since it more or less is a different thought.  When exactly did the Federal Highway System in Mexico actually start?  From the 1956 Shell Map I found on David Rumsey it is obvious that there are far less Federal Highways during the 1950s than I would have expected.  I did find a couple State Farm Maps from 1940 and 1944 which don't show any Federal Highways, so I'm assuming that they started to pop up in the late 1940s/early 1950s?  Conversely does anyone have any background on when Autopistas (D Routes) began being built?  I never really looked into the history of the Mexican Federal Highway system before my trip this month and I'm finding that it is virtually undocumented compared to what is seen in online for the U.S. or even Canada. 

Given this was my first trip to Mexico in a long time I took a lot of notes on things that are different to feature on Gribblenation.  Some of the differences between the roadways and highways in Mexico compared to the U.S. that I observed.  Some of the differences are probably well known already in road circles:

-  Obviously the highway signage is much more in line with what would be expected out of Europe.  What I found interesting is the almost total lack of reassurance shields on Federal Highways.  Federal Highway 23 and Federal Highway 54 were barely signed south of Guadalajara as examples.  In the case of Fed 54 it wasn't even signed south of the interchange of Fed 54 but was instead signed as Jalisco State Route 401. 
-  Some Jalisco State Routes were very well signed, at least much more so than the Federal Highways. 
-  Federal Highways seem to not be signed with multiplexes but then again I did notice references to Fed 23 and Fed 44 approaching Chapala...so I guess it just kind of depends?  Reassurance shields virtually don't exist but I did notice some major Federal Highways like Fed 15 did feature a reassurance shield every 5km. 
-  Highway maintenance is far behind anything that is commonly complained about in the United States.  Most Federal Highways resembled weathered county maintained mountain roads on the West Coast of the United States.
-  Traffic in Guadalajara was far more intense and difficult to get through than any major U.S. city I've traveled in.  Limited access roadways are rare and most major roadways in Guadalajara were engineered to the fullest extent they can be to fit as many vehicles as possible. 
-  Almost nobody locally wants to use the D Routes given that they have a huge toll cost relative to the value to Pesos.  When I drove 54D south of Fed 80 it cost something like $84-88 Pesos which was about $4.75- $5.00 dollars US. 
- Riding in the back of the truck, SUV, or wagon is still a thing.  It actually kind of reminded me of how things used to be in the 1980s before there was a crack down on back seat belt laws in the U.S.  Safety really isn't at the forefront of using the road or not anywhere close to what you see in the U.S. 
-  Getting gas is just like Oregon and New Jersey, an attendant pumps it for you.  The average gas cost was about $20.00 Pesos a liter which came out close to $4 dollars a gallon U.S. 
-  There is almost no traffic lights on Federal Highways or even on the Jalisco State Roads that I drove.  The Federal Highways often featured huge reductions in speed coupled with speed bumps at major at-grade intersections. 
-  Every traffic light I saw was horizontal in configuration. 
-  There seems to be virtually no traffic enforcement in cities or even highways.  I don't recall even seeing any police presence on a Federal Highway the entire last two weeks.
-  Driving tendencies are all over the place.  Some drivers go way over the speed limit whereas others go way under.  With the slow drivers I noticed that they tend to pull over to the shoulder or side of the lane to allow traffic to pass.  Almost nobody follows the lane markings and passes pretty much open season on highways. 
-  Local level street signage on the whole is extremely poor.  Most towns and Municipalities I visited were only loosely signed with traffic control devices.  Most street blades can be found on the corners of buildings at an intersection along with directional markers indicating if a road is one-way or two-way.  I found the Stop signs tend to be placed on the opposite side of intersections and are rarely actually followed by drivers.  I found a lot of local roadways didn't feature any traffic control information at all.  A lot two-lane roads locally have no center line and are narrow enough for one vehicle at a time.
-  Pedestrians and cyclists are far more aggressive than what I'm used to.  The cyclists in particular tend to ignore all traffic control signage.  Cyclists often passed vehicles left, right, or even going the wrong way.  Pedestrians tend to jump into the roadway and expect vehicles to stop for them even when it really isn't possible.  Intersections with large amounts of pedestrians tended to be managed with speed bumps in rural towns and municipalities. 
-  Cobblestone road surfaces were probably the most common road type in the smaller communities.  Some of the cobblestone roads were actually pretty good and featured some flat bricks to flow traffic.  Most cobblestone roads were extremely old and had some serious issues with subsiding. 
-  Most local roads I drove in smaller communities were the bottom of the drainage grade.  Water would flow off of raised sidewalks and would flow down the streets to a drainage ditch of some kind.  Some roadways could be traversed in wet weather with low clearance if it was located on a lower part of the drainage grade. 
-  D Route (Autopistas) in rural areas had a ton of surface level intersections with remote roadways.  I actually had to use two of them on 54D while checking on some cows at a family ranch.  I would kind of compare these intersections to what can be seen on rural Interstates like I-17 and I-10/I-40 in Texas with large ranches. 
-  If you end up on a dirt it usually has a ton of rocks and very little grading.  I was kind of surprised how many drivers were still using low clearance vehicles on ungraded dirt roads. 
-  Most vehicles are either older trucks/body-on-frame SUVs or small compact/sub-compact newer cars.  Some cars like the Chevy Beat actually is just the last generation Spark and have a starting price of about $8,800 U.S.  Even at $8,800 having a new entry level car is largely a luxury since it costs about $156,000 Pesos.  Cycles and mopeds were extremely common, often there was two riders or more (some of the families who had mopeds fit four people onboard). 
-  Any time a Federal Highway was four-lanes I noticed there tended to be a concrete center barrier in place, even in the most rural of areas.

« Last Edit: February 25, 2020, 06:51:43 PM by Max Rockatansky »
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nexus73

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Re: Mexico Federal Highway System and driving observations
« Reply #1 on: February 25, 2020, 06:26:43 PM »

What did you see for food and motel chains? 

Rick
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Mexico Federal Highway System and driving observations
« Reply #2 on: February 25, 2020, 06:43:46 PM »

What did you see for food and motel chains? 

Rick

As far as chain restaurants go pretty much all the big players state side are present in Metro Guadalajara but aren't present in rural Jalisco.  The only major chain anything I saw outside of Metro Guadalajara was a 7/11 and Walmart in Chapala.  In the case of Chapala that isn't too surprising given that there are a lot of American and Canadian retirees who reside there.  I mostly stuck to the local Mercados, street stands, what I could find in central plazas, or what my Wife's family cooked.  The only chain restaurant I ate at was at the airport yesterday when I didn't have any other choices.  For the most part meals for five people cost between $60-$150 Pesos or about $3.40-$8.50 U.S.  Non-chain food cost more in Guadalajara and Chapala but still was far below what chains would have cost.  The best meals I had on the trip were out of a taco street stand along the railroad in Zacoalco de Torres. 

Speaking of railroads, I don't recall seeing any crossings outside of metro Guadalajara that featured crossing guards.  Usually railroad crossings featured a simple stop sign and really not much more. 
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Joe The Dragon

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Re: Mexico Federal Highway System and driving observations
« Reply #3 on: February 25, 2020, 08:42:17 PM »

still have lot's of super 2 toll roads?
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Mexico Federal Highway System and driving observations
« Reply #4 on: February 25, 2020, 08:48:10 PM »

still have lot's of super 2 toll roads?

Not that I saw, everything I went on was four lanes minimum. 
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Mexico Federal Highway System and driving observations
« Reply #5 on: February 25, 2020, 09:14:49 PM »

I finished all my road related photo albums from the recent trip to Jalisco.  I think that I got a good mix of all road types:

Unnamed Ranch Road off of Autopista 54D

https://www.flickr.com/gp/151828809@N08/EN4j3X

-  On one of the earlier days on the trip I took the family truck out to a remote ranch south of Laguna San Marcos to check the tags on some cattle that had drowned in a pond.  Getting to the ranch required using Camino Real and Andador Zacolaco de Dorres out of Zacolaco de Torres to reach an at-grade intersection of Autopista 54D.  I crossed joined 54D for about a mile before turning off onto an unnamed dirt road into the mountains.  It was nice to get a drive in on a high clearance road into the mountainside early on, the cobblestone roads out of Zacolaco de Torres were interesting.


Jalisco State 401/Federal Highway 54 from Zacolaco de Torres to Federal Highway 80

https://flic.kr/s/aHsmLBSina

-  I took Jalisco State 401/Federal Highway 54 out of Zacolaco de Torres north to Federal Highway 80.  Interestingly while Jalisco 401 is signed through much of the route to Fed 80 I didn't see a single Fed 54 sign anywhere.  Fed 54 is only signed from the split at Fed 80 near Acatlan de Juarez.


Federal Highways 80, 15, and 23 to Chapala

https://flic.kr/s/aHsmLBSJCE

https://flic.kr/s/aHsmLBSVg4

-  Nobody wanted to take the D Roads to Chapala which required using Fed 80 east, Fed 15 south and Fed 23 instead.  There is a new junction being built to connect Fed 80 east to Fed 15 which required a U-Turn to get around the closure.  I noted that Fed 15 had numerous speed bumps at major intersections approaching Jocotepec.  I didn't fully follow Fed 23 and detoured through downtown Jocotepec to stop at a park on Lake Chapala.  Fed 23 east of Jocotepec to Chapala was really beat up and was in the process of being repaved, traffic was terrible with the snow bird crowd present.


Unnamed road up El Cerrito off of Fed 54

https://flic.kr/s/aHsmLBV1Cm

-  There is an unnamed cobblestone road which ascends from Fed 54 outside of Zacolaco de Torres to a church on what is known locally as "El Cerrito."  I hiked up El Cerrito on foot to the festival at the church which had some kick ass views off Zacolaco de Torres, Laguna Zacolaco, and Laguna San Marcos.  I drove down in the truck but the column shift wouldn't engage 1st gear which required me to ride the brakes downhill.


Fed 15 and Avenida Adolfo Lopez Mateos Sur to Guadalajara

https://flic.kr/s/aHsmLBVLxM

-  I took the described route above from Fed 80 north into Guadalajara.  Fed 15 essentially is an expressway engineered to it's absolute maximum capacity and probably needs some limited access conversions.  Avenida Adolfo Lopez Mateos Sur continues where Fed 15 splits towards Central Guadalajara but has some kick ass views of the city skyscrapers and a large tunnel. 


Fed 23 from Guadalajara to GAP

https://flic.kr/s/aHsmLBWfJb

-  I more or less snaked my way south out of Guadalajara to Fed 23 and took it back to the airport.  Fed 23 mostly is an expressway but is pretty close in places to being an actual freeway. 


Autopista 54D south over Laguna San Marcos

https://flic.kr/s/aHsmLCbCXB

-  I "accidentally" took 54D south of Fed 80 on the way back from Chapala.  I wanted to see the route of the Autopista over Laguna San Marcos which was actually pretty cool given it had some water in it.  I can't recall if I paid $84 or $88 Pesos but it was worth the detour to get a view of a pretty scenic freeway.  I ended up taking the same at-grade intersection back into Zacolaco de Torres I described above.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2020, 09:21:03 PM by Max Rockatansky »
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nexus73

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Re: Mexico Federal Highway System and driving observations
« Reply #6 on: February 25, 2020, 10:48:03 PM »

What do all those white lines running across the road mean?

Interesting to see the Mexico-specific vehicles including one in the style of an El Camino or Ranchero. 

Rick
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Mexico Federal Highway System and driving observations
« Reply #7 on: February 25, 2020, 11:07:04 PM »

What do all those white lines running across the road mean?

Interesting to see the Mexico-specific vehicles including one in the style of an El Camino or Ranchero. 

Rick

Usually they popped up in advance of major surface intersections, I assume they are somehow purposed around that (someone correct me if Iím wrong). 

Yes, there are a ton of Utes down in Mexico that arenít sold state side.  The most common by far is the Chevy Tornado which Iím to understand is related to the Opel Corsa.  Ford and Volkswagen have their own versions which I spotted as well.  I even spotted a 1973 Chevy Laguna S3, talk about a rare find that was. 

IMG_2288 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr
« Last Edit: February 25, 2020, 11:41:05 PM by Max Rockatansky »
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Max Rockatansky

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Re: Mexico Federal Highway System and driving observations
« Reply #8 on: February 25, 2020, 11:49:26 PM »

Speaking of interesting cars in Mexico, I did spot a Dodge Vision. 

IMG_2272 by Max Rockatansky, on Flickr

The Dodge Vision essentially is a rebadge of a Fiat Siena and didn't sell very well with peak sales being about 3,300 in 2016.  Apparently the only engine was a 115hp 1.6L I4, no word on the price but it was cheap enough not even to get a Dodge grill.  While the current Dodge Attitude is just a rebranded Mitsubishi Mirage at least it kind of looks like a Dodge.
« Last Edit: February 25, 2020, 11:52:09 PM by Max Rockatansky »
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kphoger

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Re: Mexico Federal Highway System and driving observations
« Reply #9 on: March 26, 2020, 06:17:12 PM »


What do all those white lines running across the road mean?

Usually they popped up in advance of major surface intersections, I assume they are somehow purposed around that (someone correct me if Iím wrong). 

They mean "slow down".  The lines get closer and closer together as you approach the hazard (speed bump, pedestrian crossing, intersection, etc).  Sometimes there are lines on the far side that get farther and farther apart too.
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