Sunday, October 31, 2010

On-Line Maps

I'm sure almost all of you have seen them and many of you have used them: on-line maps. There are several different maps sites out there including MSN/Mapblast, Yahoo, Bing and a few more.

I recently took a trip to Memphis and looked up my route using Google maps (I was going to a campsite I'd never been to before). It told me it was 320 miles and would take 4.7 hours. Doing a little math, I came up with just over 68 mph.  At 65 mph as I usually drive (better gas mileage) it would take 4.9 hours.  Mind you, that is non-stop (no gas stops, no bathroom breaks, no stopping at the golden arches).  So I planned on 5 1/2 hours. It took me about 10 minutes over that due to traffic and lower speed limits on some of the roads.

So if you use on-line maps, always allow extra time beyond what the information tells you. My general rule is to allow at least 30 minutes more for every 6 hours. That allows for slow traffic, gas stops, etc.

ALSO: before you go, verify the given directions with a map or atlas. Most on-line maps use primary roads for their routing and you can occasionally save time by selecting a secondary route. When I travel to Hattiesburg, Mississippi, I'm often routed along I-40 to Memphis, then down I-55 to Jackson, the along US 49. But if I go down I-530/US 65 from Pine Bluff, I save around 80 miles and almost an hour driving time. It's also much more scenic ;)

Bottom line: if you use on-line maps, always allow more driving time than the site gives you and don't be afraid to check for alternate routings. Most importantly , however, is keep a map or an atlas with you on your trip. Google won't tell you if a bridge if closed for repairs or if the road washed out.  And occasionally, they get the route numbers wrong. 

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Over the Rainbow

For those who haven't guessed, I love signs. I've never figured out why, but I do. 

Doing some research into highways and signage, I have found that some states used to have colored signs... ie: not simply black & white. Mississippi, for example, once used blue, red and green (a different color for each direction)


Well, through the "miracle" of e-bay where I "window shop" for lots of signs, I've discovered another style: partially colored US 16 in South Dakota:

 (No, that's not the actual photo... it's a photoshop rendition)

Of course, most of these signs disappeared by the late 1950's/early 1960's... part of AASHTO & USDOT's plan to homogenize highway signage. 

As near as I can tell, Arkansas and Missouri had no technicolor signage. Texas didn't either, though they had their own variant of the US cut-out shield:Image courtesy AA Roads

I would love to have seen a colored Arkansas sign, but alas, they never existed. Guess I'll have to make my own someday.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Ketchup ;)

Yes, I have a lot of catching up to do. Between being on the road almost every weekend and my computer crashing, I have lots of news to catch up on.

News in Brief:

4 new interchanges have opened on US 71 north of Carthage, MO

  • MO 126
  • Routes V/C
  • Routes DD/EE
  • MO 52 East

Arkansas has taken a few small steps towards building I-49 between Bentonville & the Missouri State Line. For now, it appears it will be built as a "Super 2" (2 lanes, controlled access) over a period of about 10 years, to be upgraded to 4 Lanes as money becomes available.

For sign fanatics: I-540 in NW Arkansas is receiving new exit signage, with street names instead of city designations. First ones appeared last month at Exit 62  for US 62/AR 180 Martin Luther King Jr Blvd (formerly Farmington/University of Arkansas exit).

I'll have more information on these tidbits in a couple days. In the meantime, I have lots of Missouri and Arkansas photos to upload on Flickr. Several bridges (including a stone culvert on old US 50 at Union, MO) and a random assortment of road signs (including a couple AR 87 signs spotted in Missouri). 

Guess I better get busy!