2:10 p.m. Announcement of Recess
2:10 p.m. Announcement of Recess
Since a few of you shared my interest in why Pennsylvania and Maryland have different distances to D.C. and Baltimore on their highway signs, I figured I would ask the Maryland State Highway Administration how they measure the distance, and how it might differ from PA’s method.
Here’s what they sent me:
Good Afternoon Mr. Swift:
This email is in response to your question regarding how Maryland determines the mileage for post interchange distance signs. In the case of Baltimore City, Maryland State Highway Administration (SHA) measures from the location of the sign to the Town Hall. In the case of Washington D.C., the SHA measures from the sign location to the center of the Elipse. The mileage is generally rounded up so as not to display decimals or fractions, particularly when the distance is great such as the distance from the Maryland / Pennsylvania State Line to the Baltimore and DC destinations.
Interchange guide signs, which do display fractions, are typically rounded down to the nearest ¼ mile so that the motorist is aware that their exit is eminent and that time to make necessary lane changes is limited.
Thank you for allowing the SHA the opportunity to respond to your concerns.
Asst. Chief, Traffic Engineering Design Division
This analysis is some of the best I’ve seen on the genius that is Donald Trump’s unconventional speaking style.
Driving back from St. Louis this Christmas, I finally bothered a government agency about something that had been bothering me: road signs.
After Breezewood — a town that makes me want to bring back earmarks so it can be paved over into a normal interchange — there are signs listing the distance to Baltimore, and to Washington. The mileage on one particular sign, as I recall (though I was groggy) varies. Normally it’s a two mile difference, but on another sign, it’s three miles.
So I wrote in:
To Whom it May Concern:
I am writing about the mileage distance signs on I-70 after an eastbound driver departs Breezewood.
I understand that, at some point in the future, the road splits and drivers can choose to head towards a variety of places, including Washington, DC and Baltimore, Maryland.
The first sign says they’re two miles apart, but 20 minutes later, the sign says they’re three/four miles apart. (Not exactly sure here, but point is, the mileage actually varies.)
As a kid, I asked my dad if the two towns were really only X miles apart and he helpfully explained to a 4th grade me that, no, this was the distance on that road system from that particular point, and in fact they were many miles apart.
My question is, why do the PADot signs have varying mileages for them, on the same road, just a few dozen miles apart?
How is this distance calculated? It just seems odd that it would vary on I-70 at one mile marker to another.
Thanks for your attention to my somewhat odd inquiry.
Two days later, the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation wrote back:
Dear Mr. Swift:
I am responding to your email of Monday, December 28, 2015 concerning the Distance Signs on I-70 Eastbound since this matter falls directly under my area of responsibility.
The distance used on these signs is calculated from the location of the sign to the center city of the destination. For a destination that is a considerable distance, there can be some variation in the distance depending on the specific route selected and the specific point selected for the center city. There is no set national procedure for this process. However, I do agree that once the two variables discussed above have been selected, there should be no variation in the difference in the total distance to each destination.
We have reviewed the sign on I-70 immediately east of the Breezewood interchange and the mileage indicated is South Breezewood 2, Washington D C 127 and Baltimore 129. Thus, the difference between the distances to Baltimore and Washington D C is 2 miles and this difference should remain constant. We have further reviewed the four remaining distance signs on I-70 between the first distance sign and the Maryland line, and in fact, found that the difference between the distances to Baltimore and Washington D C remains 2. As an example, the Distance Sign immediately east of the Amaranth interchange has the mileage indicated as Warfordsburg 4, Washington D C 118 and Baltimore 120. The last sign in Pennsylvania has the mileage indicated as Hancock 3, Washington D C 106 and Baltimore 108. Based on the information you have provided, I can only conclude that there are signs you observed in Maryland that have the difference between the distances to Washington D C and Baltimore something other than 2 which may be the result of the Maryland State Highway Administration using different selection criteria than what I have discussed above.
Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts on our transportation system and the possible conflict in our traffic signs.
Robert J. Pento, P.E. | Manager, Traffic Engineering and Permits
It was a great response! Very satisfying. I wrote back to say thanks, having written a few thousand responses to the public in my short tenure as a government employee, and noted that this was a response from a pro. Now I’ll have to find a Google streetview of that Maryland sign and bother them about the sign, assuming I didn’t misremember or am an undiagnosed dyslexic.
Together we can make change and bring consistency to highway distance signs.
UPDATE: Niels Lesniewski has found the offending sign. It’s just outside of Hagerstown. (And pointed out that there is a webpage dedicated to signs!)
The days of the year are dripping to a close and news outlets are trying to milk the slow news cycle for every available eyeball with year-end summary posts. Mostly, they’re recaps of who died or summaries of the news (like Google’s Zeitgeist, which seems to get more left-leaning politically every year.)
Sometimes, however, they’re personal observations that turn into a naive 1,000 word writ-large assumption. Enter Vogue and a writer named Michelle Ruiz.
It is her contention that 2015 is the year “Facebook got Political.”
Granted, I run in some different circles. I realize it is not political for everyone else, and some people I am sure defriend me or mute me because I share links (perhaps too many) to political pieces, including my own.
“It used to be” Ruiz writes, “that only whacked-out distant relatives got political on Facebook.” I’m sorry, in what Facebook world do you live? I’m fairly certain everybody has a friend (like me!) who pollutes their feed with opinions they may not share.
“Lest anyone forget, this was a social networking site that trafficked in college party pics.” Yes. In 2004, but even then it was still sort of political!
“The unspoken rule was that it was a place for rustic wedding shoots, babies holding blocks bearing their age in months, and delectable dim sum brunches shot from above.” THIS WAS NEVER A RULE. In fact, it was quite the opposite: these are/were as annoying as political posts and an entire (now defunct) browser plug-in — which was amazing — was created to filter out such things. (Which is why my dog has his own Instagram.)
Ruiz further observes, almost comically:
This was the year I found out on Facebook that a guy I had a crush on in high school was, frankly, pretty racist (“Really? Black Lives Matter? All life matters!” he expounded in one status). Or that one of my favorite people to party with in college doesn’t share my passionate beliefs about gun control.
Ah yes, proof positive this guy is a grade-A racist. Just like Martin O’Malley.
It gets better. Ruiz was living in a Pinterest-board-like curated Facebook world, until just this horrible year:
Before this year, I can hardly remember posting anything political on Facebook. But as the discourse erupted every day on my feed, I felt more compelled to answer—and couldn’t resist in the cases of #BlackLivesMatter and gun control. For other subjects, I drafted impassioned statuses, questioned whether or not to hit “post,” and ultimately didn’t. Like journaling, just writing those statuses made me feel a little less fiery. As a commenter said on the aforementioned friend’s post musing about the new, über-political nature of Facebook: “There is a lot of frustration and anger about what is happening in our country on both sides . . . people feel they need a place to vent.”
And she couldn’t help it. COULDN’T. HELP. IT. She just had to respond! (Except when she didn’t.)
To her credit, Ruiz hasn’t gone full permaban on people who express (poorly or well) opinions with which she doesn’t agree:
As tempted as I’ve been to unfriend or unfollow those people with whom I don’t agree, I haven’t actually followed through.
But there’s no blame in that, no unwritten rule that it’s not cool. Facebook is already a big cognitive dissonance machine for many.
The contention that this is the year Facebook got political, to me at least, rings hollow. Not 2008, not during Obamacare, not during 2010, 2012, or 2014. This year.
Perhaps it’s the year that Michelle Ruiz’s strangely non-political Facebook world got political. I doubt that’s been the case for many other people.
The Browns snapped a seven game losing streak, yay! Johnny Manziel didn’t play terribly*, yay! Brian Hartline is injured for the rest of the season, boo!
(*I have stopped watching the Browns, so it could have been all dumb fucking luck for all I know.)
The narrative now, at least what I’ve seen on social media, is that Johnny is going to make an argument (on the field) for why we shouldn’t draft yet another quarterback.
There are a few games left in this dumpster fire of a season.
Johnny does reasonably well. The Browns don’t draft another QB. Another dumpster fire season, with Manziel playing a big role. We have 3 different starting QBs next season. Jimmy Haslam sells the team or floats selling it.
Now I am not saying we need to use our very high draft pick on a QB. When has that worked out for us? All that I’m saying is Manziel likely doesn’t have it, and next year’s season will be as bad or perhaps slightly better than this one.
I probably won’t watch.
Over at the WEEKLY STANDARD, I have a piece on last night’s Donald Trump rally in Manassas. You can read the whole thing here, but here’s a brief excerpt.
Make no mistake: Donald Trump is running a serious, well-organized campaign. Wednesday night, it showed.
I arrived at the Prince William County Fairgrounds last night for the Donald’s first big rally in the Washington metro area just as the doors were opening at 5:30.
Story continues below
The Secret Service, now entrusted with Mr. Trump’s safety, manned two security checkpoints for rallygoers. One for guests, the other for media. I did not RSVP as media, yet, I went to the media check-in booth anyway to see if my press pass would help me acquire a coveted campaign trail event credential.
Unlike other events, where journalists with government-issued press credentials can sign in, the Trump campaign required that latecomers email Trump campaign coordinator Megan Powers to ask for one. If she agreed, she would tell the on-site staff to give a credential. Or not.
Powers, who graduated from NYU earlier this year, presumably wields a lot of power here, deciding who in the press does or does not get access to the press area. And with the Trump campaign’s recent history of denying credentials to reporters from various outlets, I wasn’t about to wait around and take my chances.
After all, I already had a ticket to the event, since I was one of the first to register as a guest. I was made aware of the event because after buying a red “MAKE AMERICA GREAT AGAIN” hat, I somehow ended up on an official volunteer email list for Trump supporters, and RSVP’d.
I just love this video.
Goodnight, sweet prince.