State Dept. of Transportation Quirks


Rhode Island:  Only because the state is so tiny, the state has a public transportation system – RIPTA – that serves the whole state, not just a region.

South Carolina:  We have all driven on highways and seen those signs advertising businesses at the exit such as gas, food and lodging.  Ever wonder how a business gets on that sign.  South Carolina explains their process and fees.  Below are the annual fees:

Standard Interchange Less than 30,000 vehicles per day $900 per direction
Intermediate Interchange 30,000 to 50,000 vehicles per day $1,500 per direction
Premium Interchange More than 50,000 vehicles per day $2,500 per direction

South Dakota:  The DOT offers some key information such as “South Dakota has 83,744 miles of highways, roads and streets. This statewide system carried over 8.5 billion vehicle miles of travel in 2006. The SDDOT is responsible for 7,848 miles of the roadway system. Although only 9.4% of the total mileage, the state highway system carries over 68% of all vehicle miles traveled.”

The state also has a fun kid’s page, which includes recipes for travel snacks!  Click here for instructions on how to make the “gravel pit” or “pot hole pizza.”

Tennessee:  For the meantime you still do not have to pay tolls on roads in Tennessee, but that could end soon as the state has passed legislation allowing for tolling.  Some of the reasons given for the use of tolling include:

  • The trucking and shipping industry loses $20 billion every year due to congestion. That cost is passed on to customers.  It is cheaper and more environmentally friendly to run a truck at 55 mph moving down the highway on a toll lane than having it sitting in traffic.
  • With tolls bearing some of the cost to construct and operate new highways and bridges, funds from traditional revenue sources may be made available to invest in mass transit, the construction of non-toll highways, and the maintenance of existing infrastructure.

Texas:  Continuing my fascination with transportation videos, here is an explanation of lemon law in Texas.  For all of my readers in Texas, please get the free “Don’t Mess with Texas” litter bags!

Utah:  The state DOT has their own YouTube page.  Watch below to see the 4500 South Bridge move down the street, literally.

Vermont:  Vermont is of course home to Amtrak’s Vermonter (which all I know about it is that it is chronically late in New York).  Apparently the Vermonter can be taken between in-state stops for $12.

Virginia:  I love histories of transportation, and Virginia has provided a lengthy chronicle.  Some of the highlights include:

  • 1923: A three-cent-per-gallon gasoline tax is enacted to produce revenue for road construction. Voters defeat a bond issue for road construction, favoring a pay-as-you-go method.
  • 1959: The state’s first interstate segment is opened – the Interstate 95 bypass of Emporia.
  • 1988: Legislators allow private companies to build and operate for-profit toll roads. Plans for the first such facility – an extension of the Dulles Toll Road – are approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board (CTB) in 1989.

Washington: Working with the Dept. of Ecology, Washington is pushing an effort to shrink carbon footprints, with the Carbon Bigfootabsolutely ridiculous mascot of the Carbon Bigfoot.  The pledge includes transportation steps such as:

  • Using cruise control on the highway
  • Removing the roof rack when not using it
  • Checking and inflating tires monthly
  • Reducing weekly car travel by biking, walking, skateboarding, busing or carpooling.

West Virginia:  226 million tons of freight are carried by rail in West Virginia each year.  The state is home to a variety of rail tours, including the Potomac Eagle.

Wisconsin:  The state DOT runs a forward-thinking program to get people to commute via bicycle by setting up bicycle buddies to travel together, pairing riders of similar skills.

Wyoming:  The picture at the beginning of the post is of the Chief Joseph Scenic Byway, the state is home to numerous other gorgeous highways (as there is little public transportation, appropriately, in Wisconsin).


hoover bypass

Montana:  The state has created secure structures, including tunnels, to help wildlife cross US 93.  As evident here.BLACK_BEAR_6 More importantly, the state has an amazing video game on the dangers of crashes between motorcycles and cars.  Most importantly, you get a character and you get to change his “general awesomeness” which means adjusting his mustache; including a fumanchu!

Nebraska:  The Department of Roads has posted the Nebraska road laws from 1898 including the following gems:

  • No person owning any carriage, running or traveling upon any road in this state, for the conveyance of passengers, shall employ, or continue in employment, any person to drive such carriage who is addicted to drunkenness or the excessive use of spirituous liquors …
  • No person riding any horse or mule shall run the same on any public road, except in cases of necessity
  • The term “carriage” as used in this act, shall be construed to include stage coaches, wagons, carts, sleighs, sleds and every other carriage or vehicle used for the transportation of passengers and goods, or either of them.

Nevada:  Certainly the coolest project is the impressive Hoover Dam Bypass being built, as seen in the picture above.

New Hampshire: I need to get a bike up to New Hampshire!

New Jersey: As a one-time NJ resident, I was a frequent rider of NJ Transit and SEPTA.  However, I was unaware of the transit village project, attempting to develop towns around transportation and decrease sprawl.  Go NJ!

New Mexico:  The state has some of the most scenic roads I have ever been on.  The promotional videos for the land of enchantment are lame, but the images are still gorgeous.

New York:  I like the concept behind the GreenLITES program, certifying the green and sustainable characteristics of transportation projects.  Now, NY should make it stick, if it hasn’t already with some sort of economic incentive.

North Carolina: The state apparently has 74 public airports and over 300 private airports.  That seems like a lot, but I do not actually know, and North Carolina was of course first in flight.NC license Plate

North Dakota:  The DOT offers a defensive driving class to drivers 17-24, called Alive at 25.  Seems like a good proactive step, especially by a rural state.

Ohio: 5,484 miles of railroad track crisscross the Buckeye state, operated by 35 railroad companies.  I now want to visit just to take advantage of all the great railroad tourism.   Unfortunately, my railroad vacations have been limited to a solitary trip to the Altoona Horseshoe Curve.

Oklahoma:  A really boring website save for the information on the Heartland Flyer, the 10-year-old project to reinaugurate passenger rail to the state.

Oregon: The state is celebrating its 150th anniversary and the DOT is participating.  Interesting facts include:

  • 1792: Captain Robert Gray enters Columbia River (May 12) and names river for his ship. George Vancouver explores Columbia River to its confluence with the WillametteRiver.
  • In 1913 there were only 25 miles of paved roads in Oregon. In 2008, there are more than 36,000 miles of paved roads.
  • From 1804 – 1806, explorers Captain Merriwether Lewis and William Clark traveled from Missouri across the Rockies and down along the Columbia River, all the way to the Pacific Ocean. By 1833, Oregon’s first shipment of lumber sailed for China.

Pennsylvania:  The Keystone state has a lot of great information on their page, including transportation research.  Most impressive to me are the overall stats, including the 403.3 million annual trips on fixed route vehicles.


Welcome back to Part 2 of our trip through the highlights of state transportation websites.  Today we’ll go alphabetically from Illinois to Missouri.

Illinois: Ever care to know how bridges are kept free of ice?  Me neither.  But this video of a salt spray truck is wonderfully esoteric.

Indiana: INDOT is full of great information, such as the benefits of rail (e.g. Railroads are a vital component in the nation’s economy. Railroads move over 40 percent of all tonmiles of intercity freight, nearly as much as trucks, barges, and airlines combined)!  However, the coolest part of the site in my opinion is the link to multiple GIS maps of Indiana.

Iowa: I’m a sucker for good maps.  This one of the bike trails of Iowa is full of detail.  I’m tempted to buy a roof rack (and a car) to go riding in Iowa.

Kansas:  The DOT links to the Kansas Transportation Online Community, which has another video, called Behind the Vest, on the lives of highway workers.

Kentucky: A state without much in the way of mass transit — despite two large urban centers — is promoting cleaner air via common sense activities like carpooling and bicycling.

Louisiana: The Department of Transportation and Development has a glossary of terms, including the appropriate alligator cracking.  Other intriguing terms include raveling and California profilograph.

Maine: Ever since I read Travels with Charley Maine has a rustic allure.  However, Maine apparently also has a long railroad history, and it makes you appreciate how old this technology is and what a shame it is that we’ve so underutilized it over the past century.

Maryland:   The region is exploring the possibility of a maglev link between Baltimore and D.C.  Also, the state is giving away free calculators in an effort to get people to calculate the saving in better transportation methods.

Massachusetts: In shocking news, the state reported that public transportation save money, fuel and time for the people and the state.  What do you know?

Michigan: I cannot resist posting these pictures of the famous Mackinac,mackinac dividing the Yoopers from the Trolls.

Minnesota: This will appeal to a small segment of the population, but here is the Duluth public transportation service map.

Mississippi: I am all for anti-litter campaigns, such as the famous “Don’t Mess with Texas.”  However, Myrtle the Turtle?  I’m not so sure about this one.

Missouri: I’m from New Jersey.  Maybe that’s why highway beautification via junkyard concealment seems a tad bit ridiculous.

Alaska Railraod

I just updated the blog’s page linking to all state departments of transportation.  In the process I noticed that almost all of them have something quirky or interesting.  In a four part series the blog will look at the most intriguing links on each state’s page.

Alabama: a video of the hidden treasures of traveling while the stars fall on.

Alaska: stunning pictures of and from the Alaska Railroad.

Arizona: I applaud the Department’s effort to promote the underused and incredibly safe roundabouts.

Arkansas: I’ve never driven through, but now that I know 600 species of wildflowers are protected on the side of the road I want to!

California: A neat story from the California Transportation Journal on the history of the Caltrans Translab, which does work on projects like greener concrete.

Colorado: A great campaign to share the road with cyclists and pedestrians called “Oink“.  This particular ad is hysterical.

Connecticut: Connecticut is attempting build public transportation in its major cities and is offering a free 10 day trial ride to get people hooked, if seats are available.

Delaware: The Department of Transportation has a cultural resources department which conducts archaeological digs.  Here are the periods of history preserved in Delaware.

Florida: I learned that South Florida has commuter rail.  I did not even know it existed.

Georgia: The state is installing HOT lanes on I-85, which goes through Hotlanta Atlanta.

Hawaii: Apparently in Hawaii one celebrates energy efficiency with a big check and a lei.

Idaho: The state is battling a plight of invasive plant species brought in by pesky cars from other states.  You won’t find great pictures of trains but you will find great pictures of herbicide treatment.