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Author Topic: I-70 western Kansas control cities  (Read 37608 times)

situveux1

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I-70 western Kansas control cities
« on: August 20, 2012, 11:13:00 PM »

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 (http://scote.transportation.org/Documents/CC_PPR.pdf) 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.

Thanks!
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Re: I-70 western Kansas control cities
« Reply #1 on: August 21, 2012, 12:00:21 AM »

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.
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Re: I-70 western Kansas control cities
« Reply #2 on: August 21, 2012, 12:11:27 AM »

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.
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situveux1

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Re: I-70 western Kansas control cities
« Reply #3 on: August 21, 2012, 12:33:17 AM »

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.
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Re: I-70 western Kansas control cities
« Reply #4 on: August 21, 2012, 01:06:55 AM »

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

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Re: I-70 western Kansas control cities
« Reply #5 on: August 21, 2012, 02:01:13 AM »

Web searching does little good in this particular case because KDOT doesn't put its control city guidance on the Web.  (It should!)  I have seen it, however, and here are the basic rules:

*  Interstate control cities are as laid down by AASHTO--in the case of I-70 that means Denver, Hays, Salina, Topeka, Kansas City, and St. Louis.

*  On state highways other than Interstates, the following are chosen (in descending order of priority) as control points:  (1) county seat within 100 miles; (2) incorporated city within 100 miles having population greater than 1000; (3) major highway route; (4) incorporated city with population less than 1000; and (4) unincorporated community.

Control points have changed over time and KDOT does not systematically update signs to reflect these changes.  On I-70 KDOT did a major signing contract in western Kansas around 1999 (KDOT project number 106 K-5927-99), at a time when Limon was still a control city on I-70 in Kansas, and many of these signs are still up.  They are being replaced piecemeal in Interstate reconstruction contracts (several of which are either planned or in progress on I-70 in far western Kansas) and in a smaller I-70 signing contract let in 2011 (KDOT project number 106 KA-1892-01).  The newer signs use the current control cities as listed above.  The mixture of old and new signs explains why direction signs may say "Denver" at one interchange and "Limon" at the next.

In the case of Plainville versus Stockton on US 183, both towns are in Rooks County, which is the next county north of Ellis County, whose seat is Hays.  Stockton is the county seat, but Plainville is larger.  Current rules therefore dictate the choice of Stockton as the control point for US 183 northbound at I-70, despite the historical use of Plainville.  (The version of the control point assignment rules I have seen dates from 2007.  I suspect, but cannot confirm, that they were essentially the same in the past, but that KDOT was--until recently--more willing to make exceptions for Plainville and other anomalous control-point choices around the state on the basis of size and traffic importance.)

P.S.  "Control city" is a tricky term.  The gold standard for determining whether a state considers a particular destination to be a "control city" is its use on a pull-through sign, for which the MUTCD limits forward destinations to just one.  The mere fact that a destination appears on a mileage sign is not proof that it is a control city.  In western Kansas (where pull-through signs are rare as hen's teeth) the usual rule is to use only I-70 control cities on signs which point to an I-70 on-ramp, and to have an I-70 control city as at least one destination on a mileage sign on I-70 itself.
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Re: I-70 western Kansas control cities
« Reply #6 on: August 21, 2012, 10:08:09 AM »

My dear sympathies for driving on I-70 thru Western Kansas. One of the most boring, dull, uninteresting drives you can have.
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Re: I-70 western Kansas control cities
« Reply #7 on: August 21, 2012, 11:36:05 AM »

I grew up in northwestern Kansas, thirty miles north of I-70.  I think it's just fine and dandy, thank you very much.  All I'll say on the subject is that Goodland would have been a great choice, and it's surprising it was shot down.  Even though Limon is a highway junction town, I would venture that more motorists are familiar with Goodland than Limon.
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J N Winkler

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Re: I-70 western Kansas control cities
« Reply #8 on: August 21, 2012, 12:19:56 PM »

I think AASHTO made the correct decision in shooting down Goodland as an I-70 control city--it is neither a large town (population is just 4,500) nor a point of route divergence (it has just one other state highway, K-27, which intersects I-70 at a right angle).  Limon is a plausible control city purely because it is a point of route divergence (US 24, 40, and 287 all join or leave alignments independent of I-70 in or near the city); its population is under 2,000 and one of the biggest employers in town, if indeed not the biggest, is the Colorado state penitentiary.  The least populous Interstate control city in Kansas, Hays, has a population of over 20,000, while Emporia (population 25,000) is not an Interstate control city even though it is a point of route divergence.

Goodland as a control city would have been in the same vein as Sharon, Clarion, Du Bois, Clearfield, Bellefonte, Williamsport, Bloomsburg, Hazleton, Stroudsburg, Delaware Water Gap or The Dalles, Pendleton, La Grande, Baker, Ontario.
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Re: I-70 western Kansas control cities
« Reply #9 on: August 21, 2012, 01:03:19 PM »

My dear sympathies for driving on I-70 thru Western Kansas. One of the most boring, dull, uninteresting drives you can have.

I don't mind it, but I much prefer the two-laners out there.  I have absolutely no objection to Great Plains; they may not be as over-the-top spectacular as the Rockies, but they have a beauty of their own ... especially during thunderstorm season!



(this is the closest to I-70 I found offhand... it was near Hill City, KS)

I grew up in northwestern Kansas, thirty miles north of I-70.  I think it's just fine and dandy, thank you very much.  All I'll say on the subject is that Goodland would have been a great choice, and it's surprising it was shot down.  Even though Limon is a highway junction town, I would venture that more motorists are familiar with Goodland than Limon.

I have probably heard of Goodland, but do not recall it offhand.  I'm definitely familiar with Limon, because it is indeed the junction of many routes.  Or maybe this is because I spend about equal amounts of time in eastern Colorado as in western Kansas.  perhaps Kansas locals know more about Goodland than those like me who are agnostic to which exact state they are in while exploring the Great Plains.
« Last Edit: August 21, 2012, 01:09:27 PM by agentsteel53 »
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Re: I-70 western Kansas control cities
« Reply #10 on: August 21, 2012, 02:30:19 PM »

I grew up in northwestern Kansas, thirty miles north of I-70.  I think it's just fine and dandy, thank you very much.  All I'll say on the subject is that Goodland would have been a great choice, and it's surprising it was shot down.  Even though Limon is a highway junction town, I would venture that more motorists are familiar with Goodland than Limon.

I have probably heard of Goodland, but do not recall it offhand.  I'm definitely familiar with Limon, because it is indeed the junction of many routes.  Or maybe this is because I spend about equal amounts of time in eastern Colorado as in western Kansas

It's simply been my experience that, when telling eastern Kansans where I grew up, the easiest point of reference is Goodland; most people don't know anything else between Hays and Denver, though a few may know Colby, Burlington, and/or Limon.  Colby and Goodland are common meal/motel stops for people heading between KC and Denver.  I might also mention that Limon is only 90 miles from Denver, yet 250 miles from Hays; the split for Goodland is about 195/145.

perhaps Kansas locals know more about Goodland than those like me who are agnostic to which exact state they are in while exploring the Great Plains.

You believe it's impossible for a person to know what state he's in while exploring the Great Plains?  Wow, you need an atlas!
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Re: I-70 western Kansas control cities
« Reply #11 on: August 21, 2012, 02:35:38 PM »

My dear sympathies for driving on I-70 thru Western Kansas. One of the most boring, dull, uninteresting drives you can have.
Maybe you just didn't know what to look for. I-70 across Kansas provides a view of the transition from midwest to western landscapes. Some years ago, the official Kansas map had major geographic provinces (e.g., High Plains, Smoky Hills) shown as varying background colors on the map, and it was interesting to me to observe the changes and differences between these regions. The last copy of a Kansas map I had showed these on a small map inset, much less valuable. I've crossed western Kansas on several routes (U.S. 40, K-96, U.S. 50, K-156) and they all have their own points of interest. Actually, for viewing the interregional changes, I prefer crossing east from Colby on U.S. 24. 

Now, if you want a nearly featureless landscape where it is far more difficult to track geographic transitions because it closely parallels the Platte River, follow I-80 across Nebraska.
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Re: I-70 western Kansas control cities
« Reply #12 on: August 21, 2012, 02:49:31 PM »

Now, if you want a nearly featureless landscape where it is far more difficult to track geographic transitions because it closely parallels the Platte River, follow I-80 across Nebraska.

and if you want some interesting scenery, follow US-30 several miles away

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Re: I-70 western Kansas control cities
« Reply #13 on: August 21, 2012, 02:51:09 PM »

though a few may know Colby, Burlington, and/or Limon

I know Colby primarily because that is where the last business loop shield in Kansas was located.

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You believe it's impossible for a person to know what state he's in while exploring the Great Plains?  Wow, you need an atlas!

that's not what "agnostic" means in that context  :pan:
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Re: I-70 western Kansas control cities
« Reply #14 on: August 21, 2012, 04:29:08 PM »

that's not what "agnostic" means in that context

perhaps Kansas locals know more about Goodland than those like me who are oblivious to which exact state they are in while exploring the Great Plains.
FTFY :pan:
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Re: I-70 western Kansas control cities
« Reply #15 on: August 21, 2012, 04:38:46 PM »

that, again, is not what agnostic means.

while I generally know which state I am in, I don't care.  scenery doesn't give a shit about invisible lines on the ground.

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Re: I-70 western Kansas control cities
« Reply #16 on: August 21, 2012, 05:05:30 PM »

that, again, is not what agnostic means.

while I generally know which state I am in, I don't care.  scenery doesn't give a shit about invisible lines on the ground.

OK.  Whatever.  Maybe you're simply not religious about what state your in.  This is so far off topic, I almost feel like asking which states in New England use Clearview.

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ag·nos·tic   /ægˈnɒstɪk/ Show Spelled[ag-nos-tik]
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Re: I-70 western Kansas control cities
« Reply #17 on: August 21, 2012, 05:58:53 PM »

I think AASHTO made the correct decision in shooting down Goodland as an I-70 control city--it is neither a large town (population is just 4,500) nor a point of route divergence (it has just one other state highway, K-27, which intersects I-70 at a right angle).  Limon is a plausible control city purely because it is a point of route divergence (US 24, 40, and 287 all join or leave alignments independent of I-70 in or near the city); its population is under 2,000 and one of the biggest employers in town, if indeed not the biggest, is the Colorado state penitentiary.  The least populous Interstate control city in Kansas, Hays, has a population of over 20,000, while Emporia (population 25,000) is not an Interstate control city even though it is a point of route divergence.

Goodland as a control city would have been in the same vein as Sharon, Clarion, Du Bois, Clearfield, Bellefonte, Williamsport, Bloomsburg, Hazleton, Stroudsburg, Delaware Water Gap or The Dalles, Pendleton, La Grande, Baker, Ontario.

In other words, silliness from the local chamber of commerce, thinking that a control city will lead to more cars turning off the freeway.
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Re: I-70 western Kansas control cities
« Reply #18 on: August 21, 2012, 06:57:29 PM »

Now, if you want a nearly featureless landscape where it is far more difficult to track geographic transitions because it closely parallels the Platte River, follow I-80 across Nebraska.

and if you want some interesting scenery, follow US-30 several miles away


I think you just found the one nice spot to take a picture along 30 - helped by the hoarfrost ;-).
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Re: I-70 western Kansas control cities
« Reply #19 on: August 21, 2012, 06:59:06 PM »

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Re: I-70 western Kansas control cities
« Reply #20 on: August 21, 2012, 07:15:32 PM »

Just to throw in my two cents on the original topic, in Colorado as you head east from Limon all EB onramps are posted Burlington (the very last town in Colorado but probably twice the size of Limon).  Distance signs, however, frequently show Salina as the furthest destination. Once you cross into Kansas, the furthest destination on distance signs becomes Hays. References to Salina don't show up in Kansas for quite a distance. I think you have to be east of Salina to see the first Kansas City reference.
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Re: I-70 western Kansas control cities
« Reply #21 on: August 21, 2012, 07:38:48 PM »

plenty more where that came from ...

https://www.aaroads.com/blog/2010/09/08/rocky-mountains-dec-07-part-v/

Nice picture blog.  FWIW, it looks like that dirt road north of I-90 is now a two-lane paved road.
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Re: I-70 western Kansas control cities
« Reply #22 on: August 21, 2012, 07:53:53 PM »

I think the state's reasons for picking a "control" city are reasonable, at least as far as what J N Winkler listed here. BTW, Thank you very much for all of your information, it was very helpful. I especially appreciate the history... it makes the signs in Hays make much more sense.

I think whether or not Goodland qualifies as a control city probably has a lot to do with perspective. Since I'm originally from eastern Kansas (east of I-135), I would have probably said it should not qualify. Now that I live in Hays, I might disagree and say either Colby or Goodland would be okay. Either way, I do firmly think if Goodland doesn't qualify then Limon shouldn't either. Yes, it has route divergence, but CO-71 is no different than K-27 in Goodland, coming from nothing and leading to nothing. Yes, US-24 splits and leads to Colorado Springs, but one could say the same thing about US-40 at Oakley (although I will admit 40 doesn't lead to Colorado Springs directly.) US-287 and 40 lead to nowhere and all three US routes join I-70 which Colorado doesn't even bother to co-sign them. And it's proximity to Denver certainly makes me think it is not "control worthy." I guess it just comes down to what AASHTO takes into consideration, which I guess I don't necessarily agree with.

I guess for me it just comes down to the fact that nothing in Kansas is mentioned at all on EB I-70 in Colorado until Burlington, while Kansas plasters some Colorado town over 150 miles from the border. Trying my best to not sound petty here, but if CDOT doesn't want to play nice on EB 70, then why should Kansas? If Colorado were to do the same as Kansas, then from what I can tell, they should be referencing Hays east of Limon, not Burlington.

If I were picking control cities, my first consideration would be what destinations are drivers most likely to be heading to or from and also what cities are regional economic drivers. On that basis alone I would never consider Limon. (I doubt Limon is a final destination for most I-70 travelers.) I think if those are the primary considerations, then cities like Hays and Colby make more sense as control cities since they are economic drivers for their region. It probably also makes a difference who your audience is... is it local regional drivers who are just driving in Kansas or is it cross country travelers. There's no right answer I guess, but interesting to think about.

Many years ago when I was interning for a state representative, one of his "primary tasks" was getting the BGS on I-135 at McPherson changed from Marion to Hillsboro. His beef was that Hillsboro was the "economic driver" of the county and should have precedence over Marion. Of course, he was from Hillsboro, so...  :biggrin: Anyway, he claimed he had several of the business people in town complain because they couldn't direct their customers to town off of I-135 easily. Now of course, I-135 has individual signs for Hillsboro, although the "official" control cities are still McPherson and Marion. I've noticed the same on I-70 past Salina with individual distance signs for Manhattan, even though Manhattan is many miles to the north of the mainline interstate. I'm guessing those had some political involvement as well.

Ok, I've droned on enough. Thanks for the info.
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Re: I-70 western Kansas control cities
« Reply #23 on: August 21, 2012, 08:16:36 PM »


Nice picture blog.  FWIW, it looks like that dirt road north of I-90 is now a two-lane paved road.

yes, I believe that is correct.  those photos were from Dec '07
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Re: I-70 western Kansas control cities
« Reply #24 on: August 21, 2012, 09:15:31 PM »

drone

Having grown up in Atwood, I was at first hesitant to suggest that Colby would be a better pick than Goodland, figuring it was probably personal bias since that was "my exit".  But your mentioning it as an economic driver in the area is true, and I hadn't thought of that.  It certainly sees plenty of exiting traffic–more than Goodland.  My two top picks for the stretch between Hays and Denver would be Colby or Burlington.  In fact, since Burlington rivals Colby for roadside amenities, and has a US route running through it rather than a state route, maybe Burlington would be the best choice.

As a side note.....
Man, those towns look small on Google Maps at the zoom level I'm on.  They sure didn't seem that small when I lived there.  Is Oakley really that small?  I can barely even tell where Rexford is!  Oh, how things change when you move to an urban environment.
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