Wednesday, September 12, 2012

U.S. Highways Driven

Over there on the right, you'll see links to my two primary "roadgeeking" statistical quests: counties visited, and interstates driven. In general, it's a good way for me to visualize parts of the country that I've been to, and parts of the country that I haven't been to.

But what about the areas where I've already visited every county, and driven every mile of every interstate*? There are two states in which I've already completed both quests: my home state of North Carolina, and the state with both the fewest counties (3) and the fewest interstate miles* (23), Delaware. As someone who longs to go to as many different places and drive as many different roads as I can, what do I do in these states from now on?

(* - Three-digit interstates don't count, in part because there are a lot of dumb ones out there. Although, I believe I have driven every mile of three-digit interstate in North Carolina, regardless. But not Delaware.)

Well, I can think of two logical next steps.
- Townships. Pennsylvania is among several states that further subdivide counties into townships. However, North Carolina and Delaware are not. And even if they did, we would be talking about way too many of them. Pennsylvania alone has to have over 1,000 townships, right? (I don't feel like counting myself.) Township boundaries also don't appear on most mapping software, making this even more complicated. idea.
- U.S. Highways. The next level down from interstate highways, and they're easily mappable and researchable. Yeah!

Well, here you are: a comprehensive report on all of the US highways I've driven, but only in North Carolina and Delaware, for now. Once I visit every county and drive every interstate mile in a state, that state will be added to the spreadsheet. Until then, I won't really worry about those other states. Although my plan is to finish off Connecticut next month, so is it too early to start thinking about that state now?

As with the interstates driven, US highway mileage only counts when I'm the driver, or when Amber is the driver and I'm riding with her. With that, here are the numbers I came up with:
- North Carolina: Out of 5,894 total US highway miles among 35 highways*, I've driven 3,481 miles (59%) on 31 highways (89%). I've driven every mile of highway in the state on these 5 highways: 64, 117, 220, 264, 701. (* - I'm considering 19E to be part of 19, and 19W to be a separate highway altogether.)
- Delaware: Out of 216 total US highway miles among 6 highways, I've driven 39 miles (18%) on 3 highways (50%), and haven't completely clinched any of them.

59% sounds like a lot, but that leaves nearly 2,500 miles of unexplored, unspoiled road for me to check out. And actually, some of those miles are very close to home. I couldn't confirm that I've ever taken US-70 (Glenwood Ave) between downtown Raleigh and I-440 (Crabtree Valley), for example, so I didn't count it. I could go take care of that in less than an hour if I wanted to.

Of course, many of North Carolina's remaining highway miles are way out in the mountains, so I expect it'll be a while before I completely finish this off. And even though I only have 177 miles to go in Delaware...I mean, it's Delaware. Why go to Delaware? (Actually, we'll be driving through next month, and should finish off those last six miles of US-9 while we're there. Yay?)

One problem with keeping track of this is that U.S. Highway alignments change far more frequently than interstate alignments. If they change the routing of US-311 (again), then I'll have to change my spreadsheet to reflect that, right? That's assuming I even know about it. I'll try to keep up as best I can.

Oh, and if you're reaction to this is, "You have way too much spare time"...well, it's not like I put this together overnight. It took me a few weeks to add all of this up. And that was just for two states! This is why I'm not really worrying about the other 48 yet. (Actually, 46, because Alaska and Hawaii don't have any U.S. routes. Hey, that's two more down!)

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