Frequently Asked Questions

The following is the most frequently asked questions here at If you have a questions about the site or the roads of Upstate New York, please don't hesitate to contact me here. In addition, I enjoy chatting with others that share common interests, my chat information can be found in the footer of each page here on the site.

1. Why the interest in roads?
I have been interested in roads for as long as I can remember. As a native of Upstate New York (Pulaski to be exact), with family in Syracuse, Watertown and Binghamton, I love the drives we would take along Interstate 81 and/or US Route 11 for our visits. I was, and still am, fascinated by the signage and design of all these roadways, from freeways right down to cul-de-sacs.

2. Why are you so critical of some of the practices of the transportation agencies in the state?
Let me first say that I consider myself to be "Empire State Proud". I love New York, and I want our state to put it's best face forward to it's citizens and visitors at all times, and this includes our transportation infrastructure. NYSDOT and the New York State Thruway Authority have standards to adhere to (just as every other state in the country does) when it comes to the design, construction and signing of our roadways. I believe that the standards are sound and feel that it creates confusion and potential safety concerns for the motorists when the standards aren't adhered to. In addition, I consider civil engineering to be an ever-changing process. Just because something worked well in 1955 does not mean that it's working well in 2005, and this includes interchange design, the type of material used and the legend that appears on signs. While it sometimes seems like I'm hard on the NYSDOT and NYSTA, I have the utmost respect for everyone involved at both agencies and on the whole feel that they do a magnificent job in a very diverse environment.

3. What makes you qualified to have this site?
My only qualification for creating and maintaining The Upstate New York Roads Site is an intense passion for the transportation infrastructure in the Empire State. I love our roads, railways and airports. Aside from three years in the greater Boston area, I've lived in Upstate New York for my entire life. As of January 2007, I've gone back to school to earn my degree in Civil Engineering. By the way, I found that I had little interest in the roads of Massachusetts when I lived there, as I was not a fan of their signing practices at all.

4. What are those little green markers along the road?
They are called "reference markers" and were installed by NYSDOT in the late 1960s or early 1970s. Each one is unique and identifies that particular spot of roadway. For a thorough explanation, you may wish to check out Nathan Perry's site, he has a fascinating and informative dialog about the reference markers.

5. Why do the speed limit signs say "State Speed Limit 55"?
New York State has three type of speed limits, 'linear', 'area' and 'state'. For a further explanation, please take a look at my Speed Limits page.

6. Why do interstate signs in other states have "slats" on the back of them but they don't in New York?
There are two types of sign manufacturing methods used in the United States when it comes to freeway signs. Most states opt to use "extruded" sign panels, which are made with the 12-inch strips of extruded metal bolted together to the desired size of the sign. The strips are then covered with the desired sign sheeting material and in most cases, the legend (lettering, etc) is riveted on from pre-cut reflective letters. In some instances, reflective sheeting is used. The majority of extruded panels do not have rounded corners, instead the border of the sign is rounded. In New York (and some other states), "incremental" panels are used, which are made of sheets of aluminum or wood riveted together to the desired shape and mounted on crossbars. Again, reflective sheeting and legend is applied. In most instances New York opts to use reflective sheeting for the lettering and the background. Incremental panels have a service life that is about half as long as extruded panels, allow the corners to be rounded and cost about half the price of the extruded panels.