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Time to stop calling U.S. Route 11 ‘state Route 11’

August 28, 2010
Adirondack Daily Enterprise

Throughout the United States, our roads and highways are comprised of local streets and roads (i.e. city and village streets, town roads), county roads, state highways, U.S. highways and interstate highways. Each type of road or highway has its unique features. City and village streets and town roads are usually designated by street signs only, and show a route number, only if it is part of another U.S., state or county route.

We are all familiar with the interstate highway system in the U.S., comprising more than 41,000 miles of highway, with route numbers shown on the red, white, and blue shield shaped signs.

However, with state and federal highways, there is a very important difference. State highways are within a particular state - they do not connect from state to state. The signs indicating state highways are the same within each state but differ from state to state.

Article Photos

Route 11/Route 37 signage
(Photo provided)

U.S. or federal highways have their origin in 1916, when the Federal Aid Road Act provided $75 million in matching funds as a federal/state partnership. These federal highways connect several states with the same route number.

In Franklin County, we have only one U.S. highway - U.S. Route 11. Although it is maintained by the state Department of Transportation, it is not a state highway - it is a U.S. or federal highway. U.S. Route 11 begins in Rouses Point, N.Y. and ends in New Orleans, La. It is approximately 1,645 miles long and passes through 10 states (N.Y., Pa., Md., W.W., Va., Tenn., Ga., Ala., Miss., and La).

All U.S. highways show their route numbers on a similar shield. Note the picture that accompanies this article, and look closely at the difference in the Route 11 sign and the Route 37 sign. Route 37 is a state highway and the symbol is the same for it as any other state highway in New York state. However, the Route 11 sign has a different and distinct shield and is the same as any other U.S. highway.

It is unfortunate that addresses along Route 11 in Franklin County have been given the designation of "State Route 11," because this causes confusion. If someone from away looks for a "State Route 11" on a map, they won't find it, because there is no such route. Also, any GPS unit will refer to Route 11 as "U.S. Route 11".

Other nearby US highways are U.S. Route 9, beginning in Champlain, N.Y., running through Plattsburgh and ending in Cape May, N.J., and U.S. Route 2 beginning in Rouses Point, N.Y. and ending in Maine.

For more articles on traffic safety and NYS V & T Law, go to



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