Friday, May 11, 2007

Even More Signs Along the Road

The old school state line signs welcoming you to Texas

When I was a kid and we used to travel to Oklahoma City to my grandparents' homes, the trip home always had one of these style signs along the highway re-entering Texas. I came upon this one back in the summer of 1999 at Texline, Texas, entering the Lone Star State from New Mexico on US 87. Texline is near the far northwest corner of the panhandle, near the convergence of New Mexico, Texas, and Oklahoma. Had I been making my upcoming trip to Houston via the highway as originally planned, I would have passed by this spot. I am curious if this marker is still in place, although I imagine that it probably is. While this spot is only about 300 miles from where I live, you lose one hour passing this sign, as this is a point where you leave the Mountain time zone and enter the Central. Just a few miles to the west is Clayton, New Mexico, and about 50 miles west is the extinct Capulin volcano.

Since this post is another about signs along the road, lets show a few more. Here is a sign directing motorists to Houston's Westpark Tollway, curiously spelled as "West Park". This toll road is a new one that follows the corridor of the former Westpark Road, extending from the big bend in the Southwest Freeway (US 59) out to the west toward the town of Katy.

The Houston Toll Road Authority also operates the Sam Houston Tollway (Beltway 8), and the Hardy Toll Road that parallels I-45, the North Freeway from the 610 loop northward. These pentagonal blue signs are commonly used as county road markers in many states around the nation, but they are used in Houston in this fashion, designating toll roads. The Westpark Tollway has no toll collectors, as you must have an electronic toll transponder on your vehicle to use it. The HTRA calls their transponder EZ Tag.

Since I mentioned Beltway 8, a little known fact is that Beltway 8, a state highway, is technically only the feeder streets along the tollway wherever the main lanes are tolled. The main lanes are just the Sam Houston Tollway. This is because of a rule that state highways cannot be toll roads.

Just for grins, here is a signpost hosting a junction sign in downtown Tulsa, Oklahoma. This is where one of the city streets approaches an on ramp to the I-244 / US 412 freeway. Despite its 3-digit, even initial digit number, I-244 is not a loop, but instead connects I-44 on the west side of town to I-44 on the east side of town, paralleling I-44 a few miles to the north. The so-called Inner Dispersal Loop, or IDL, is a little loop around downtown comprised of I-244 and unsigned I-444, also not a full loop. Tulsa is also laid out a bit unusually, since downtown is not at the city's center, but is near the northwest corner of the city limits.

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