Thursday, June 20, 2013

Interstate 2

Unless you're a fellow roadgeek, then you likely weren't aware that there is soon going to be a brand new interstate called Interstate 2. The signs aren't up on the road itself yet, but it's already on Google Maps:


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So, where is this, anyway? Let's zoom out and get a little perspective.


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I-2 will be all of 47 miles long, and connects the South Texas cities of McAllen and Harlingen...and that's it. On one hand, given the interstate's prestigious number - now the lowest-numbered interstate in existence, excluding Hawaii - I'd think the "I-2" designation would deserve a more prestigious route. But here is why I'm actually okay with this.

South Texas - which I've never been to, and which I'm pretty unfamiliar with - is a bigger deal than you think. One million people live in McAllen, Harlingen, Brownsville, and their suburbs, and another million-plus live across the border in Reynosa and Matamoros, Tamaulipas*. They can have their own major interstate if they want, I guess. Even if it happens to be the second-shortest "major" interstate in the country.

(* - A pet peeve of mine is when people refer to Canadian cities like this: "Kingston, Ontario, Canada." It sounds tacky. I think "Kingston, Ontario" is sufficient. I decided to give Mexico the similar treatment, even though far fewer Americans are familiar with Mexican states than they are Canadian provinces.)

Also, unlike Interstate 99, at least Interstate 2 fits into the system as the southernmost east/west interstate in the country. Besides, where else would you put an Interstate 2? Alligator Alley is pretty much the only other viable option, and that's already part of I-75. If not for South Texas, there would never have been an I-2 anyway...at least, not a valid one. I suppose some dumb senator somewhere could have stuck an I-2 in the middle of Iowa or something. Well, now that can't happen (or at least, it's less likely to happen), because the I-2 designation has already been used, and in a proper location at that. Hooray!

I-2 doesn't actually connect with the rest of the interstate system...yet. Eventually, it will, once I-69 (or I-69E or I-69C or whatever) is built between Corpus Christi and Harlingen. Until then, I-2 will lie in exile.

Nevertheless, I did add it to my interstates driven spreadsheet as another interstate that I haven't driven yet, along with a few other new interstates:

- I added I-49 in Missouri, since that's official now. As of last month, I've actually driven part of it.

- The completion of I-74 between High Point and Asheboro prompted me to finally add parts of I-73 and I-74 in North Carolina to the spreadsheet, most of which I've driven already. I haven't driven the newest segment of I-74 yet (which just opened this month), so technically, this means I haven't driven every mile of interstate in North Carolina anymore...but, whatever. Once a state is clinched, it's clinched. That's my story.

- I'm still not adding I-22 yet, since it's not officially an interstate until the intersection with I-65 is built. I'm also not going to add any part of I-69 south of Indianapolis until a continuous segment of substantial length (100+ miles) is open.

1 comment:

Adam said...

Good thing you don't live in Texas - They keep adding to I-69 and I-69E and C as they reach interstate standard.

I-2 may grow towards Laredo.

Then you have the future conversion of I-540 in Arkansas to I-49.

By next year - there will be a long stretch in Houston signed I-69 along US 59. More of I-69E and C will be signs and I-369 will be signed on the Texas side of Texarkana.

Texas got a waiver in the last transportation bill that allows it to sign interstate standards highways that are not connected to the system as an Intestate as long as there are plans to connect it to the system within 25 years.

No one is sure if that is exclusive to I-69 only or to other future interstates as well. If so, the Rockingham bypass would be eligible for this.