Talk:Decommissioned highway

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I'm considering the fact-worthiness of the following:

At times the highway that the superhighway supplants may be demolished so that it cannot be used for such illicit purposes as impromptu drag racing or as an airstrip for drug traffickers, particularly in the thinly-populated areas of the western United States in which the resources of law enforcement might be pointlessly overstretched.

Is there any reliable source to back this up? —Rob (talk) 19:05, 24 March 2006 (UTC)


This seems an odd use of the word Decommissioning, inconsistent with other meanings. As the definition says 'remove something from operational status'. Could someone provide a source for this? --ReddyRose 12:02, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

Ouch. I found a few uses: an outdated Wisconsin DOT trivia page, an Iowa DOT page copied from Wikipedia (compare to [1] for proof of the direction of copying), and a news article written by the roadgeek that maintains the Iowa highways site. I thought this was a common use, but it's the new "multiplex". Turnback is one possible alternative. --NE2 15:08, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
Another alternative (applying to either direction): jurisdictional transfer --NE2 15:16, 16 October 2007 (UTC)
This seems to be one of those subjects with wide / global usage but no common description. I'd never heard this term before. It seems to me that this is analogous to the UK term detrunking meaning the demotion of a trunk road, again another UK-specific term. It's not exactly in common use but it is the official term used in legislation e.g. [2].--ReddyRose 16:23, 16 October 2007 (UTC)

Indianapolis, Indiana; Montgomery, Alabama:

I have used those cities as examples of States decommissioning State and US highways within well-defined loop routes. The State removes the designations of US or State routes within those loops, either truncating them at the loop (examples: U.S. Route 136 in Indianapolis and U.S. Route 331 in Montgomery) or diverting the highways to the loop (examples: U.S. Highway 31 in either city). Either pattern is to be seen on any recent state highway maps of either Indiana or Alabama. The highways remain as surface routes but no longer have State or US highway signs.

Other States may follow such patterns (most likely in the future), but those two are the most obvious so far.

Also see Wikipedia:Reference desk/Language#Decommissioning.

I have started a new discussion at Wikipedia talk:WikiProject Highways#"Decommissioned". Can we please discuss this calmly? --NE2 23:49, 21 October 2007 (UTC)


Category:Demolished highways- Should this category be adapted to include roads described in this article? --ReddyRose 17:08, 18 October 2007 (UTC)

Roads can be demolished deliberately and entirely(the former California State Highway 480). This would be a decommissioning and a demolition.

There are minor demolitions that result from re-alignments, such as to remove an at-grade rail crossing or a sharp turn... but these seem small in contrast to the majority of those discussed. Just as significant are abandonments of all or part of any old highway after a newer one supplants it.

Abandonment is another factor; all highways need some maintenance to remain usable. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Paul from Michigan (talkcontribs) 23:15, 3 November 2007 (UTC)

Terms used by highway departments[edit]

  • U.S.: de-designated [3]
  • AASHTO: eliminated ("either by consolidation with other U.S. routes or by reverting to State routes") [4]
  • New York: deleted [5]
  • Oklahoma: removed [6][7]
  • Oregon: removed or eliminated [8]
  • Texas: cancelled [9][10][11]
  • Utah: deleted from the state system of highways [12]

[13] is an interesting court decision relating to the phrase "eliminate from the state highway system" in the Oregon statutes. --NE2 00:40, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

Cancelled? Really? To me, that means that it was going to be, but never was. A cancelled proposal. These definitions you share are talking about adding and subtracting roads from systems, and these terms may not be used around the world. Many places don't refer to their highways as systems. Which gets into another aspect: There isn't agreement worldwide or even in North America over what a freeway is, or what a motorway is, or what a turnpike is. (Turnpike itself being unknown in Canada, from my experiences at least). Even highway has ambiguities. I've always recognized it as being a road maintained by the government. In other places, it's a road going through rural areas to connect two urban centres. Those terms might be fine for local resources, but not a multinational one. Simply put, which it comes to roads, there is no agreeable standard for an international collaboration like Wikipedia vıdıoman (talkcontribs) 00:48, 22 October 2007 (UTC) I think I may have contradicted myself, but I'm not sure..

That doesn't mean we should use a term that nobody uses. --NE2 00:50, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

But people do use it! Everyone I asked knew what it meant, or at least what it implied. If I asked someone if they understood what it meant to cancel a highway, they would likely assumed it never existed. They didn't know what delete meant, and removed implies taking it off of something. I guess the highway could be taken off the landscape, though. I'm sure many would welcome that. vıdıoman (talkcontribs) 00:54, 22 October 2007 (UTC)

No, they didn't know what it meant. They assumed that the highway was torn down or abandoned. --NE2 00:59, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
Eliminated, removed, and deleted would result in similar results, if the term "deleted a highway" made sense. The US example, de-designated makes the most sense if we're talking about a highway which still exists but of a different network (or system, if you prefer). And again, the first person had no idea what deleting a highway meant, and the second thought it meant closing down or rerouted. The highways you changed that alerted my watchlist, 808 and 807, were neither closed down, or rerouted. They were simply re-numbered, or to take a queue from the US, re-designated. vıdıoman (talkcontribs) 13:17, 22 October 2007 (UTC)
Actually, if you look up de-designate in a dictionary, you won't find it. --Son (talk) 16:58, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
It's the opposite of designate. "Un-designate" or "removed designation" might be better? vıdıoman (talkcontribs) 17:17, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Surely there's a commonly accepted term for this phenomenon?
Anyway, this article strikes me as being US-centric and pretty useless. I'd be inclined to redirect it somewhere else and be done with it. --kingboyk (talk) 19:14, 27 January 2008 (UTC) PS I removed some dictionary "references". They make no mention of highways at all so don't belong in the article. Talk pages are for arguing about semantics, not articles. In other words: use those dictionaries to argue a case here if you like but not in the article. --kingboyk (talk) 19:16, 27 January 2008 (UTC)

Reliable sources that use "Decommissioned"[edit]

While other terms MAY be used elsewhere, it is clear the most common term for the removal of a number from a highway is "decommissioning". While it may be appropriate here to note some of the more common other terms, to use a lesser-used term than the most common one is not in keeping with convention or common sense. --Jayron32|talk|contribs 05:50, 19 November 2007 (UTC)

"To support the use of (or an article about) a particular term we must cite reliable secondary sources such as books and papers about the term—not books and papers that use the term." Also, the term is only the most common when you include unreliable sources, and the lobbying group uses it correctly, to mean tearing down a highway. --NE2 12:49, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
Will you stop quoting WP:NEO, decommission has been used for a long time, probably longer than there have even been highways. Also "the lobbying group uses it correctly, to mean tearing down a highway.", do you have a source for that, I have never heard of it meaning that. --Holderca1 talk 15:53, 19 November 2007 (UTC)
"Remove from service". "Removing this short stretch of highway will reunite South Bronx neighborhoods". --NE2 01:55, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Huh? --Holderca1 talk 03:53, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Did you read the link? It talks about removing the highway entirely, not removing the I-895 designation. --NE2 05:18, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
What link? You didn't provide one. Also, irregardless of what the links says, you have to decommission a highway before you remove it anyways. Based on your comment, I am confused, they are removing the highway, but keeping the designation? --Holderca1 talk 13:48, 20 November 2007 (UTC)
Remember, there is WP:SENSE which is a supplement of WP:IGNORE. This seems to be the best circumstance to invoke these. --Son (talk) 14:38, 19 November 2007 (UTC)


This section should be modified:

It is rare for a highway to be entirely closed; when a new alignment is built, the old road usually remains for local traffic.[citation needed]

How rare is "rare"?

In practice, the compete closure of an old surface road that an Interstate Highway has supplanted (without incorporating the old route) is far more common in the thinly-populated areas of the western United States (ranch, desert, and mountainous country) than in the eastern United States. In New England and the South east of the Mississippi, where expressways were built as supplements to the existing highway system, decommissioning of highways after an Interstate Highway is built is rare. Only where the (then-future) Interstate was first built as a US Route is the old US surface route re-designated as a state highway or 'reduced' to a local highway. This could be a cultural characteristic, as these were among the earliest parts of the US to be settled, and practically any old highway has significant development upon it.

Pennsylvania, New York, and Maryland have decommissioned some US highways -- intrastate or largely intrastate routes (such as old US 104 in New York, which remains a heavily-traveled highway between Rochester and Niagara Falls, and old US 140 between Gettysburg and Baltimore. New York 'downgraded' most of US 15 to NY-15 after having built Interstate 390. But even in a mountainous area, old PA-126 between Breezewood, PA and Warfordsburg, PA that became obsolete as a state route after Interstate 70 supplanted it as a major highway exists as a county highway. A highway first built as a US route and then turned into an Interstate (US 48 in western Maryland, now Interstate 68) is an obvious candidate for decommissioning.

Virginia seems to be more conservative in decommissioning old US highways except in de-commissioning US 21 north of Wytheville in favor of Interstate 77 -- in a mountainous area. The road is intact, but it is now county highways.

Ohio, West Virginia, Kentucky, Indiana, Michigan, Illinois, Missouri, Iowa, Wisconsin, Minnesota are more radical; they seem to de-commission almost any US highway that an Interstate Highway largely supplants except for US 6, 20, 31, 40, 41, 42, 52, and 150. Long segments of US 10, 16, 21, 25, 27, 54, 61, 66, and 460 have been decommissioned even if the old highways remain in use as state or county roads. US 75 between Sioux City and Council Bluffs in Iowa was in fact detoured into neighboring Nebraska with the deletion of most of US 73. Terminal segments of some routes (US 2 in Michigan in favor of Interstate 75, and US 8 in Minnesota in favor of Interstate 35W) also disappear. US 12 in Michigan has been largely diverted to what used to be US 112 after Interstate 94 was completed.

These states are densely populated enough that rural areas are largely farmed. An old US or state highway remains viable as a county route; thus all but a short segment of old US 12 is intact in Michigan, and a short detour allows one to travel easily from one side of Interstate 94 to the other along the path of old US 12.

This pattern seems to hold in farm country in the Dakotas, Kansas, Oklahoma, and Texas. Nebraska is hard to define because it has only one long-distance Interstate (Interstate 80), and US 6, 34, and 30 are intact even if Interstate 80 closely parallels them.

In rangeland and mountains, preservation of old two-lane surface roads is less common. Roads that serve cities and town are usually intact even if they are re-designated as state highways or business loops, as are those that serve such tourist destinations as ski slopes; otherwise, the Interstates absorb even local traffic. This likely reflects economics of ranching as opposed to farming and lumbering; farmers and loggers use slow-moving equipment (tractors, combines, logging vehicles) banned on Interstates; ranchers generally use pickup trucks suitable for Interstate use. It also reflects the lesser utility of maintaining a highway that has far lesser use but may be more costly to maintain especially in view of its lighter use. Any paved road costs something to maintain, and those in mountainous areas are even more costly to maintain per unit of distance. Local governments often find such highways impractical to maintain and thus either abandon them to nature or close them.

California and Washington have been swift to decommission US and State highways that Interstates supplant. A full discussion of California's denumbering, which began in 1964, is available elsewhere. In general, old state and US highways that Interstates (and other freeways) supplant survive if they are in densely-populated areas and disappear in mountains or desert.

Oregon seems to have decommissioned only US 99 and its split routes, but those survive as state highways 99, 99W, and 99E.

In conclusion -- rarity of the closing or abandonment of an old road depends upon the economic activity and population density of the area. What is 'rare' in Massachusetts, Illinois, or even eastern Texas is commonplace in Nevada and western Texas.--Paul from Michigan (talk) 11:50, 5 January 2008 (UTC)

How Caltrans uses "decommissioning"[edit]

See page 28 of [14]; a diagram of removing an old alignment from a hillside after a new alignment opens is labeled "U.S. 101 Decommissioning". And on page 20: "The removal of the existing roadway (decommissioning) and restoration of the surrounding topography would be included for all build alternatives." And on page 115: "The decommissioning of existing U.S. 101 would include the removal of all man-made features, recontouring of the landscape, and revegetation. Detention and filtration basins would not be installed and maintained for the removed highway. Where possible, a berm would be placed below the existing slide (at existing highway elevation) to capture falling material. This berm and the soil and rocks collected behind it would not be cleared, cleaned or maintained." --NE2 16:38, 31 January 2008 (UTC)

PA 61 in Centralia, Pennsylvania[edit]

Hey, I wanted to add some more information to the page about decommissioned routes. I wanted to add a good example of a road being closed after the route is moved onto another alignment: Pennsylvania Route 61 near Centralia, Pennsylvania, due to the fire burning underneath the borough. A good chunk of 61 had to be moved onto a smaller road due to the original being heavily damaged as a result of the underground fire. I also wanted to add the Abandoned Pennsylvania Turnpike to the page, since the Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission closed off that section of highway (which contained the Sideling Hill and Rays Hill tunnels) once the tunnels were bypassed by a new section of the Pennsylvania Turnpike in 1968, and is in the process of becoming a bike trail. The Abandoned PA Turnpike was also briefly part of the Interstate Highway System before the bypass was open, so the I-76 designation moved with it. Thanks!Jgera5 (talk) 05:47, 28 February 2008 (UTC)

Even that would constitute a realignment. Technically any re-alignment of a part of a highway onto a new alignment, the old route remaining but no longer having a number, would not be a de-commissioning. The designated route remains even if it takes a slightly different path. This would apply just as often to a diversion necessary for establishing an overpass or to modify a highway to replace such hazards as unbanked turns or sharp turns at bridges.

Pennsylvania 61 still exists; it simply bypasses a dangerous area.

US Centric and sources[edit]

I have heard the use in australlia. The author of ozroads use it. Robotboy2008 (talk) 07:47, 26 March 2008 (UTC)

Added Globalize template to reflect the need for worldwide views in the article. --Aveek (talk) 16:07, 12 April 2009 (UTC)

Controlling authority[edit]

Throughout the article there is the concept of "downgrading". If a U.S. highway is changed to a state highway, there is no downgrading as the U.S. highway would have been maintained by the state already; as a rule, states maintain U.S. highways. There is at most only a shield change and a number change. Mapsax (talk) 00:21, 19 August 2010 (UTC)

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