DAVIS, Okla. (AP) — The Oklahoma Department of Transportation has been installing half-mile marker signs along Interstate 35 from near Davis to the Oklahoma County line in a pilot project to better assist motorists and improve emergency services.
“I know our partners in the emergency community will be very happy to see these because they’ve been requesting that we consider these for a long time now,” said Terri Angier, spokeswoman for the Oklahoma Department of Transportation.
The main purpose of the sequentially numbered signs is to help motorists involved in accidents or breakdowns along the interstate to quickly and precisely describe their locations to police or other emergency responders, she said.
Mile marker signs have long been a part of the landscape along interstates in Oklahoma and other states.
For interstates that go north and south, like I-35, the numbers increase as a person travels north and decrease as a person travels south. So a person at mile marker 55 would be near Davis, 55 miles north of the Texas border.
For interstates that go east and west, the numbers increase as a person travels east and decrease as a person travels west, the Oklahoman reported.
So a person at mile marker 65 on Interstate 40 would be near Clinton, 65 miles east of the Oklahoma-Texas line.
For many years, the standard practice followed by state transportation agencies was to place the small numbered signs at mile intervals along interstates, Angier said.
Beginning in 2003, manuals began suggesting enhanced optional alternatives, such as placing markers ever .1 mile, every .2 mile or every half mile, Angier said.
Various states have embraced different options, she said.
Oklahoma has stayed with the traditional one-mile standard in the past, primarily due to the extra cost of putting in more frequent markers, Angier said.
However, the department recently decided to experiment with a pilot project of placing markers every half mile along a 65-mile stretch of I-35, she said.
“We already had a sign replacement project scheduled, and the division for that area requested that they be allowed to do the incremental (signs),” Angier said. “We thought it would be a good way to start testing it out.”
Over the last couple months, crews have been intermittently working to install 260 new markers from mile marker 55 near Davis to mile marker 120 near the county line between Cleveland and Oklahoma counties. Crews have been doing the work when it was convenient with their schedules, she said.
The total cost of the project is expected to be about $50,000, Angier said. The old mile markers were scheduled to be replaced anyway, so the extra cost associated with buying and installing the additional half-mile markers would be about half that amount, she said.
The money is coming from the department’s operating funds, she said.
A request is pending to install more half-mile signs next year further south along I-35, she said.
The department does not currently have a grand plan to install half-mile markers along all interstates, but more could be done later as signs are scheduled for replacement, depending on response to the pilot project, Angier said.
Depending on the particular projects, federal funds could be used to pay some of the costs, she said.
Oklahoma doesn’t currently place mile markers along highways that aren’t interstates, but it’s possible the signs could be added to major highways like U.S. 69 or U.S. 75 if there is enough interest, she said.
Oklahoma has 673 miles of interstate highways, not counting turnpikes, Angier said.
Information from: The Oklahoman, http://www.newsok.com