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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Highway "Quirks": Not Unique to MN

Phoenix vs. Twin Cities Freeways

As incoherent freeway systems go, the Twin Cities has some stiff competition from . . . the Phoenix area.

Any list of Twin Cities oddities and incongruities would have to include the following:

--Whether you're on Highway 7 or Highway 25 depends on whether you're east or west of Highway 100 (years ago, someone apparently decided that the eastern-most stretch -- from 100 to France Ave. -- should be called Highway 25).

--The Twin Cities' beltway or "loop" is either called 494 and 694, depending on whether you're in the northern or southern half of the metro area.

--And the two Interstate 35's -- 35W and 35E -- actually have (almost) nothing to do with one another (they intersect south of the Twin Cities, in Burnsville).

Oh, and 35W skips a quarter-mile in South Minneapolis, then resumes in Richfield.

None of the foregoing throws the locals, but I imagine it causes untold headaches for visitors.

Driving on a Mobius Strip

In Arizona . . . it's me who's the (discombobulated) visitor.

After a few days of driving -- and getting lost -- in metro Phoenix, I have now learned that:

--The cobbled-together Phoenix beltway goes by at least 4 different names, depending on where you are (NW, SW, NE, SE) on the perimeter.

--There are two highway 202's, running parallel to each other, about 4 miles apart.

--Interstate 10 runs east-west through downtown Phoenix -- except where it runs north-south. It, too, briefly forks into a northern and southern route that, conveniently for visitors, share the same name.

The cumulative effect leaves you feeling like you're driving on a mobius strip: a twisted loop of paper that appears to have two sides, but in reality is only one.

Clearly, the area's growth simply overran its highway grid.

So, you see band aids and stop-gaps everywhere -- like the 35W-Highway 62 bottleneck that the Twin Cities is only now just correcting, some 40 years later!

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