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AASHTO's Latest Response to NCDOT's Route Numbering Requests

AASHTO SCOH has posted their responses from their October meeting of the Special Committee on U.S, Route Numbering in Hartford on a single Word document, link below. They have not yet posted the documents with specific responses to each application, however. Hopefully these will be posted soon so a better understanding for the decisions can be deciphered.

For NC, the results are mixed. They approved the applications for I-440 (dropping it from the I-40 portion of the Beltline) and the application for the US 17 Windsor Bypass. They approved the I-540 and I-140 applications though conditionally, citing the need for a revised application for both, requesting that I-540 be marked Future and possibly a spur (?) and I-140 be revised to designate that route a spur(?). They conditionally approved the I-73 application but also want the application resubmitted to have the route designated Future I-73 'since it is not complete.' They again disapproved the US 117 move back to its original alignment from the I-795 freeway and the elimination of Alt US 117 because 'information submitted appeared to be conflicting and inconsistent'.

Go to the AASHTO Document

Commentary: My initial reaction to this is 'huh?'. The I-540 extension application was for the extension from US 1 to the current end at US 64/US 264. Aren't those NHS routes? Why does AASHTO want Future signage? Also, what is this about a spur designation? Doesn't the odd numbers 140 and 540 indicate that already? Or have they forgotten how 3-digit interstates are numbered?

As far as I-73 goes, it is signed on an interstate standard freeway that begins at an interstate (I-85) and ends at another interstate (I-40) for now and could be extended to a expressway elevated to NHS status (Bryan Blvd.) as approved by the FHWA. So why does it need a future banner? Yes, its not 'finished' and won't be in NC for many years to come, but there are other segments of I-73 signed as an interstate elsewhere despite the whole road not being complete. Maybe some at AASHTO resent that the road was legislated into existence without their consent? The I-73 signing is important for traffic using the southwestern part of the Greensboro Loop since I-40 is being taken off the Loop (NCDOT never applied to change I-40's route to the Loop in the first place, so that's why that wasn't included among their applications). Since all of NCDOT's interstate applications have already been approved by the FHWA or through legislation, I believe there's little AASHTO can do anything about changing the signs that are already up. It may though cost NCDOT time and effort to have to reapply for these various routes in order to remind AASHTO of this and have them finally agree to the changes.

As for the US 117 application, the later one was clearer than the first. NCDOT expanded its explanation including the history of the building of the US 117 freeway, reminding them AASHTO approved the move of US 117 to it and the creation of Alt US 117. They then indicated the history of I-795 approval and the wish to revert US 117 to the route it had run on for many decades. They even included the history of the application to AASHTO that they approved of extending US 117 to I-95 and the wish it be truncated back to its original terminus. From my reading of all that, I don't see anything that would be too confusing, especially since they had a previous application to build on. Do these two organizations speak two different languages? Would it be possible for someone at AASHTO to call NCDOT to clear up any confusing issues? From all appearances, they seem to just mail memos back and forth to each other and no one on either side takes it upon themselves to clear up any misunderstanding.

In any case, NCDOT and AASHTO always make the designation of new routes interesting.

Comments

James Mast said…
Seems like the AASHTO might be on crack or something. lol.

They also forgot to mention the Nevada application for TEMP US-50/395.
Eric Goodson said…
Read the I-540 request carefully.

"The proposed action will increase the overall system capacity of the existing roadway network and will divert traffic from
secondary roads in an area of Wake County that is experiencing substantial residential growth.The need for an additional
transportation facility in the southern and eastern Wake County is based on a combination of factors including transportation
demands, social and economic demands, and safety considerations. The Southern and Eastern Wake Freeway will link the
towns of Clayton, Garner, Fuquay Varina, Holly Springs, Apex, Cary, and Raleigh. It will also connect the major radial routes
in the southern portion of Raleigh and reduce traffic volumes on the Raleigh Beltline (I-440), I-40, NC 42, NC 55, and Ten Ten
Road (SR 1010) by providing an alternate route for local and through traffic. The Southern Wake Freeway is a component of
the Raleigh Outer Loop and will tie into the Western Wake Freeway near Apex and the Eastern Wake Freeway near Garner.
The Eastern Wake Freeway will tie to the northern portion of the Outer Loop at the US 64 Knightdale Bypass."

This statement is a request for the Southern and Eastern Wake Expressway, but all of the supporting maps and doc refer to the segment north of US-64. I think NCDOT was on something when they submitted this one.
Bob Malme said…
An update; AASHTO has posted resubmitted applications they requested from NCDOT for the interstate routes extensions submitted for the October 17 SCOH meeting. NCDOT, however, did not change their applications to what AASHTO asked for. Instead, they sent the same applications with additional highlighted sentences along with a copy of a letter from the FHWA sent to AASHTO 10 days before the meeting. The letter was in response to questions the Route Numbering Committee had about the NC Interstate requests. The letter indicated the FHWA approved all the interstate extensions NCDOT asked for. They also specifically pointed out that they can be properly signed as full interstates stating a Future Interstate designation is only applicable to a highway not on the FHWA list of current interstate routes, which is not the case here. As you recall AASHTO asked for reapplications because they wanted NCDOT to request future interstate routes for I-73, I-140 and I-540.

So what happened? Is it a simple failure to communicate from one side or the other. Did the Route Numbering Committee get the FHWA letter? If so, did they read it? The FHWA letter also points out that several of the interstate routings had already been approved by AASHTO before! Did any of the committee members look up past decisions? While some of the NCDOT applications may have been somewhat confusing, the FHWA letter would have helped clear up much of that, in that it spells out exactly what NCDOT is asking for and why the FHWA agrees with it. In the end it really doesn't matter if AASHTO approves the routes or not since the FHWA already approved the highways and AASHTO has approved the route numbers.

The link to the letter and the new applications is here:
http://cms.transportation.org/?siteid=68&c=downloads

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