In response to Klein's disagreement, Morton offered a motion calling on the Committee of Five to develop a numbering plan based on a zone system. However, Chief MacDonald interrupted. Based on this suggestion, the Joint Board approved Hotchkiss' motion to refer the matter of selecting a scheme for numbering the U.
In final actions, the Joint Board approved Rogers' motion that the shield measure 16 inches from tip to tip and a motion by Chief MacDonald disapproving the use of the same number on alternate routes, but leaving the issue to the discretion of the Committee of Five "if no other method seems to meet the exigencies of the situation.
The decision to appoint group chairmen to clear the tentative U. James later acknowledged that "the public seemed to have been aroused to the possibilities. If the marking must be done, he said, it was a "matter of justice" that the number be shifted and he insisted "upon the disposition of it in accordance herewith. The file of this correspondence indicates the Governor's telegram was prompted by complaints from the Lee Highway Association prominent backer of a route from Washington, D. The result was that by the time the Joint Board's drafting committee completed its report, the system had expanded to 75, miles 2.
Meanwhile, James and the Committee of Five were working on a numbering plan. On August 27, James wrote to the committee members, enclosing a small map of the United States on which he had shown, he believed, "the possibility of a systematic plan for numbering interstate routes. All of the "continuous routes" laid out by the committee during the Joint Board's meeting had been numbered.
For the principal east-west routes, James assigned two-digit numbers ending in zero. For the principal north-south routes, he assigned numbers ending in 1 or 5. With these base routes numbered, the remaining routes could be numbered accordingly. He thought three-digit numbers, which he considered inevitable, should be assigned to short sections, cutoffs, and crossovers. Logical alternate routes should be given the number of the principal line of traffic, plus Thus, under his original scheme, an alternate for U.
Louis to complete the numbering plan. The committee followed James' concept. Transcontinental and principal east-west routes were assigned multiples of 10, with the lowest number along the Canadian border U.
Trail Highlight: Yellowstone Trail - Greater Minnesota Parks and Trails
The principal north-south routes were given numbers ending in 1, with U. The north-south routes of considerable length but secondary importance were given numbers ending in 5. The resulting grid was filled in with two-digit numbers for alternates, cut-offs, and connecting routes. Three-digit numbers were assigned to branches, with the figures 1, 2, 3, etc. For the most part, the plan resulted in a consistent numbering sequence, with room for expansion because some one- and two-digit numbers had not been used 8, 33, 35, 37, 39, 43, 44, 47, , 66, 68, 72, 79, , 86, 88, 93, and The Joint Board's final report noted, however, that absolute consistency was neither possible nor desirable:.
The most flagrant example was the route designated U. As a multiple of 10, the number should have been assigned to a transcontinental, east-west route between U. However, the Committee of Five assigned the number to a crescent route from Chicago to Los Angeles, with only the routing through the Southwest in correct numerical sequence. Although this route, because it crossed most of the transcontinental highways, would inevitably be one of the most heavily traveled U. In addition to describing the Joint Board's decisions, and how they were reached, the report contained the first log of the U.
The report also transmitted the signs approved by the Joint Board, including the U. He began by quoting General George W. Goethals, who had supervised construction of the Panama Canal, as saying that in his experience with official boards, he found them "long, narrow and wooden. After outlining the decisions of the Joint Board, and how they have been made, James thanked the members:. Recognizing the task facing the Joint Board, the Secretary had been "impressed with the broad lines, orderliness, and conspicuous fairness" of the work done.
He asked that Chief MacDonald transmit the report to AASHO and express the Secretary's concurrence with the system of routes proposed and with the plan to mark them uniformly. Secretary Jardine noted that the interests of the Federal Government in the Nation's highway system might eventually have produced similar action at the Federal level.
From this point on, the Secretary said, "the results accomplished will rest largely in the hands of the several States under whose direct supervision the recommendations of the Board will be carried out. AASHO adopted the Joint Board's report and delegated to its Executive Committee the authority to make minor changes to the recommended system "as appeared necessary or desirable.
The Great Northern Road Trip: US Highway 2
Reaction to the Joint Board's work was mixed. It was widely applauded. Travel writer William Ullman began an article, "Seventy-five thousand miles of highways and not one cent for promotion! Ullman praised the safety and directional signs as "simple in design, easily remembered and intelligible even to a driver who may not read the language. The North Dakota Highway Bulletin , published by the State Highway Department, praised the trail associations for their "splendid spirit and work done" but added that they had "outlived their usefulness.
An editorial in the Tombstone Epitaph was typically blunt in discussing the new plan. The newspaper characterized the named trail associations as being headed by "blood-suckers who have sat in their swivel chairs and milked the public for funds to keep their swivels greased. In some cases, praise for the new system was based on how it would affect a State or city.
The St. The article listed the four major routes that would pass through the city--U. The editor told of a late night discussion he had in a hotel room with BPR and California Highway Commission officials. The editor offered the opinion "that the chief fault with the uniform signs was that they lacked sex appeal. Similarly, the Portland Journal complained about the decision to replace "The Old Oregon Trail," which conjures up images of the great 19th century way west, with "a couple of meaningless numerals.
An article in the Ft. Worth Press commented on the difference between eastern and western reaction to the plan. The article summarized the BPR's explanation of why the West received more roads than the East this way:. He told The New York Times that, "In many of these states, I found short stretches of road which can by no possible mental gymnastics be called even important state routes; they are merely country roads. He wanted to set an example for the other States so they would follow and designate only transcontinental roads that really run across the continent.
Whether the reaction to numbering the Nation's interstate highways was positive or negative, one thing was clear to all observers: this was a major change that would have profound effects not just on motorists but on States, counties, and cities, as well as the named trail associations. This understanding is reflected in the strong, at times bitter, reaction of those who felt cheated by the Joint Board's choice of through routes and numbers.
Almost immediately, for example, they accepted the Joint Board's intentions in applying the numbers. Highways assigned two-digit numbers ending in "naught" multiples of 10 or "1" were seen as the first-class highways. Highways with other two-digit numbers, including those ending in "5," were perceived as secondary. A three-digit number seemingly relegated a community to tourist purgatory. The named trail associations, of course, were not happy. The Joint Board, which wanted to eliminate the trail associations, had not outlawed or eliminated them and had no authority to do so.
No action had been taken to prevent them from posting their signs. In fact, the members of the Joint Board had informally agreed that the States could, if they desired, carry the names of the highways on the same standards as the numbers adopted for the U. However, the Joint Board had also ensured it would not give a single number to any of the multi-State named trails, instead breaking them up among several numbers. The Lincoln Highway Association was one of the few named trail associations that seemed to accept, grudgingly perhaps, the Joint Board's proposal.
In a February editorial in the Lincoln Highway Forum , the association referred to the work of the Joint Board as "a logical development. Highways gain no advantage whatsoever from such selection. On April 10, , after members of the association raised doubts about the work of the Joint Board, the association's secretary, Gael S. Hoag, wrote to Chief MacDonald:.
Hoeg simply wanted to know if Chief MacDonald could confirm that the individual States would decide whether the markers of highway and trail associations would be allowed. Chief MacDonald assured Hoeg that his understanding was correct:. James would later recall that while working on the numbering plan, he had gone to Detroit to explain the plan to the Lincoln Highway Association:.
His theory in approaching the Lincoln Highway Association had been simple: "They were the strongest of all the Associations and with them with us, who could be against us? By the time members of AASHO's Executive Committee met in Chicago on January , coinciding with the American Road Builders Association's Road Show, they were faced with a flood of complaints generated by the named trail associations, communities, other groups, and individuals who were unsatisfied with the number their route received, or the fact that their route or city was left off. Several States, including two that had declined to participate in the Joint Board's group meetings Maryland and Pennsylvania , were threatening not to endorse the plan.
Many States wanted more mileage. In North Dakota, for example, the State highway agency's bulletin indicated the State was satisfied with its three east-west routes the National Parks Highway, the Theodore Roosevelt International Highway, and the Yellowstone Trail , but felt that the two north-south routes assigned to the State, U.
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The State needed three additional U. Many problems were of a minor nature; the Executive Committee resolved 79 of them during its meeting.
The Great Northern
But many of the disputes were major and would have to be held over, to be resolved through letter ballot of the States during the remainder of the year. By James' count, the Executive Committee acted on over 60 additional cases through early November A sampling of the issues provides an idea not only of the complexity of creating a numbering plan but also of how vitally important the decisions were to the combatants.
The old trail was part of U. Backers of the new trail and about 20 representatives of towns along the way descended on the office of State Highway Engineer William V. Buck to demand a "" split for the two routes.
They were upset not only because they had been given a number that relegated their route to secondary importance compared with their hated rival "that old oxen trail" but because of what they perceived as special interest--U. Backers of the Victory Highway were outraged because this departure from their named trail took U. As one Victory Highway supporter put it, "it looks to me like first degree murder.
The original routing contemplated by the Joint Board, he said, would have kept U. To resolve the dispute over U.