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US Interstate Highways

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Revision as of 18:16, 14 March 2013 by 118dot93dot73dot30 (talk | contribs) (Since we are a travel GUIDE rather than an encyclopaedia, it's unlikely we'll ever have (or need) an article on the New Jersey Turnpike. aou, units)
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US Interstate Highways

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The Interstate Highway System is a group of limited access highways that serve the United States. Interstate highways exist in all states except Alaska and in the District of Columbia. Interstates can vary in length from under a mile to stretching across the entire country.

For many trips, the interstate highways are the most efficient way to travel by automobile between two points. Being limited access highways, interstates do not have traffic lights except on rare occasions. They typically have speed limits of 55 miles per hour (89 km/h) or more - portions of I‑10 and I-20 in rural western Texas and portions of I‑15 in rural central Utah have a speed limit of 85 mph (137 km/h) - and are well maintained.

Numbering system

The number that is assigned to an interstate highway has a specific meaning in identifying its purpose:

  • Even numbered one- and two-digit interstates under 100 transverse the country west to east. Higher numbers are further north and lower numbers are further south. Those ending in 0 are typically longer, traversing nearly the entire country.
  • Odd numbered one- and two- digit interstates under 100 transverse the country north to south. Higher numbers are further east and lower numbers are further west. Those ending in 5 are typically longer, traversing nearly the entire country.
  • Three-digit numbered interstates are generally localized highways that intersect with a one- or two-digit interstate. They share the last two digits with the main highway, and run either near or off of that highway.

This order of numbering is opposite from the U. S. Route System in order to avoid overlap of identical numbers. There is currently one instance of an interstate highway and a U.S. route of identical numbering overlapping: I-74 and US-74 in North Carolina. There is also a section of US-41 in Wisconsin that is proposed to become a section or I-41.

Types of signs

  • Numbering signs: Appear in the well-known interstate shield. A full sign indicates the number of the highway, the state one is in, and the direction of travel.
  • Directional signs: Indicate what exits one should take to reach a certain destination. Usually appear in green.
  • Distance signs: Indicate the distance in miles to various cities, towns, or other points along the highway or other routes off the highway. Usually appear in green.
  • Service signs: Indicate rest areas or certain service related businesses, such as food, fuel, and lodging, are coming up at a nearby exit. Usually appear in blue, and display the logos of various chain businesses.
  • Mile markers: Indicate which mile point one is at from the state line. Sometimes appear every mile, sometimes every tenth of a mile.
  • Park signs: Indicate an upcoming national or state park or historical site. Usually appear in brown.

Speed limits

Like most other roads, all interstate highways have speed limits. The limits, which are controlled and enforced by the respective states where they are located, can vary, depending on the laws of that state, the volume of traffic, and other factors. Typical speed limits range from 55-75 miles per hour, though there are exceptions both above and below this.


Tolls exist on some interstates. The tolls could be either for the highways themselves or for bridges along the highways.

Some of the tolls on Interstate Highways for cars are (this list is currently incomplete, not always up to date, and may vary from prices listed by time of day or method used to pay):


New Jersey: George Washington Bridge has a toll of $8 while traveling in a northbound direction.

The New Jersey Turnpike from exit 7A northward is a part of I-95. The toll for this distance is $9.55.

Delaware: between exit 1 (DE-896) and exit 109 in Maryland (MD-279), there is a $4 toll in each direction. This toll is described by signs as being for the entire Delaware Turnpike, though it only needs to be paid if traveling between these two exits. The toll can be avoided southbound by taking exit 1 north, turning left on Christiana Parkway (DE-4/896), and left on Elkton Road (DE-2/MD-279), then re-entering I-95, or the reverse while traveling northbound. This takes an additional 10 minutes.

Maryland: The Millard Tydings Bridge over the Susquehanna River has a $5 toll for northbound travelers.

I-295 (Delaware)

The Delaware Memorial Bridge has a $4 toll for those traveling southbound

Rest areas

Main article: Rest area

On many interstates are rest areas where motorists can stop to take breaks. Rest areas are usually equipped with rest rooms, and many have various other facilities to meet the needs of travelers.