Thursday, August 16, 2012

I'd like to buy a vowel

Have you ever noticed that there is no Route Q in Missouri? Nor is there a Route G or Route S. While it may seem like someone spilled their alphabet soup on a Missouri roadmap, the truth is that some letters are never used to name roads.

In fact, of the 26 letters of the alphabet, six of them are conspicuously absent from Missouri road signs. Here’s why.


G -- Can look like the number 6

I and L -- These letters look too much alike and also resemble the number 1

Q -- Too close to the letter O

S -- Looks like the number 8

X -- Film-rating designations have given this letter a bad rap

The letter R is used in special circumstances. You will not find an R used alone because they resemble the letter P. Usually it is combined with an A or a B for short state roads that go to a park or conservation area.

MoDOT occasionally receives questions concerning the choice of letters. Some people even asked if there are secret meanings behind double-lettered routes. As provoking as that may seem, the truth is somewhat less cryptic.

The lettered routes are part of the state’s supplementary system. These routes joined the Missouri system in 1952 when the state absorbed almost 12,000 miles of county-maintained roads. The letter designations came shortly after that.

The letters were assigned county-by-county. Starting with A, roads were named in coordination with adjacent counties so there would be a mix in the distribution. If the list of single letters ran dry, then double letters were used until all the county roads had a designation. The original designations have basically remained the same since then.

19 comments:

DeAnne Rickabaugh said...

The former county roads were not part of the numbered highway system, so they received letters as names. Mostly farm-to-market roads in 1952, the lettered routes were not designed by the highway department. In most cases, the dirt or gravel roads were simply paved - which brought most of the state "out of the mud" as they said back then.

Brandon Rush said...

Say what you will, MoDot. I know why AX was selected for a short supplemental route connecting Route O and US 63 to Axtell, MO. It didn't have anything to do with Route AW being designated just before it, either.

Tomas said...

Somewhat surprised at some of these. I know there's a few KK across the state. Seems like that one should have been skipped.

US 71 said...

There is also one Route AR : formerly Ozark County 567 between Hwy 101 at Bakersfield and Hwy 87 in Arkansas. Unfortunately, it looks like a paved cowpath ;)

Dave said...

My kids always giggle at Route PP.

Mike Hall said...

No one envisioned the problems this system would cause in 1952, however today this system needs reviewed. MoDOT should at least display the name of the county on these road signs. Travelers don't always know what county they are in and the fact that there is a "Highway A" in every county can make very difficult trying to locate a traffic crash victim who doesn't know what county they are in. Another problem is that single letters sound alike "V" and "P" and "B" and so on all sound about the same causing much confusion and delays. In my opinion someone made a very short sighted poor decision when they went this "route" (pun intended) and it should be reconsidered.

Topgun said...

Also, the letter S looks an awful lot like the number 5 -- even more than the number 8. On the subject of letters, what Missouri town has a 5-letter name that includes four of the five vowels? Eolia, of course.

Paul Clark said...

Regarding the comment that the lettered routes should show the county. Originally the County was shown on the Route markers but was dropped as some mistakenly thought that meant it was maintained by the county instead of the State.
Paul Clark

Anonymous said...

I regularly chuckle as I drive past the intersection of Route M and Route OO in Johnson County. The intersection sign reads MOO. And Yes, if you were wondering, this is in cattle country.

Judy Sepac said...

Maybe you could consider using a larger font (the population IS aging, you know!)and the letters/numbers could be read more easily! Interesting to read the history.

Anonymous said...

Lincoln county has a QQ

Anonymous said...

Lincoln county has a route QQ

DeAnne Rickabaugh said...

Could you be referring to OO near the Lincoln/St. Charles County line?

Anonymous said...

To Thomas: On the east side of Texas County, there is the intersection of Highway K and Highway KK the signs are together showing KKK. Also at Mansfield MO there is the Highways B, Highway EE and Highway F. Put those together and you have where's the "BEEF". Locals has chuckled over that one for years

Anonymous said...

To Thomas: On the east side of Texas County, there is the intersection of Highway K and Highway KK the signs are together showing KKK. Also at Mansfield MO there is the Highways B, Highway EE and Highway F. Put those together and you have where's the "BEEF". Locals has chuckled over that one for years

Anonymous said...

We always get a laugh when driving east out of KC on I-70 and pass EEK at the Sweet Springs exit (exit 71).

Anonymous said...

From Warrenton eastbound on M...joins OO...then to N.....That is the "Moon" Route to get to I-64..and a good alternative if their is a wreck on I-70.

Anonymous said...

from Warrenton eastbound...you can use the "MOON" route to get to I-64..M to OO...to N...then I-64

Anonymous said...

As one comes downhill into Ellington from the north, a sign exists showing Route K going to the east, and Route Y going to the west. Since the two signs are side-by-side, the K-Y always makes me wonder just how slippery a slope I am traveling.