Sunday, August 3, 2008

New Mile Markers on Interstate 75 in Tampa Lately

If you have been out there on Interstate 75 northbound in Tampa you may have seen some funny looking mile markers out there. For many years we have seen the typical interstate highway mile marker as an elongated sign mounted on the right side of the highway with the word “Mile” on top and the mile marker digits lined up in vertical order read downward.

Now there is a new kind of mile marker out there which is mentioned in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices, commonly called the MUTCD. The MUTCD, which is published by the United States Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), is the Bible of all traffic signs, signals and pavement markings used by all 50 states, including the folks at the Florida Department of Transportation, as well as our cities’ and counties’ public works departments. Here is a description of the new mile marker signage you may have been seeing on Interstate 75 northbound in Tampa:

The new mile marker sign is elongated vertically, just like the old mile marker sign. The top of the sign contains the cardinal direction that you are headed, which makes it easy for you the motorist to find out which way you are going.

Next, a graphic of the highway shield is shown which reinforces the route you are on. No need to worry which highway you are traveling, especially when you are out in the country and the exits are further apart.

Below the highway shield is the word “Mile”, which is just like the old style mile marker sign.

Right under the word “Mile” is the mile marker number, which is read horizontally rather than vertically. If the mile marker contains a .5 number (such as 235.5) the .5 is shown right underneath the mile marker number.

Now here is a picture of what the new mile marker sign looks like:

The primary purpose of mile marker signage is to enable public safety services such as fire, police and EMS to locate you on an interstate highway in case you need their services. You can also use the mile marker signage to calculate the distance you have traveled from Point A to Point B. Interstate highways are not the only highways that have mile marker signage; if you have the occasion to travel US 1 in the Florida Keys you will notice that everything down there is based on the mile marker that goes back to the railroad days.

The standard for mile markers is to begin at the southernmost or westernmost terminus of a highway, usually at the beginning of a highway or at the state line boundary. As an example with Interstate 75 in Florida, it begins at its southernmost terminus (which is also its national southernmost terminus) at FL 826 in Miami. The mile markers increase as you go north on Interstate 75 throughout the entire state of Florida until you get past Mile Marker 472. There you have crossed the border into the state of Georgia and the mile marker resets at zero again.

So, there you have it as to an explanation of the funny looking new mile markers you may have seen on northbound Interstate 75 in Tampa. I think the new mile marker signage is easier to read and interpret as well as getting you on the right track.