About thirty years ago, America tried to go global by integrating the metric system and...we all know how that turned out. Oddly enough, there are still some American places out there that use metric measurements (not just those bad people dealing in kilos...).
One such zany region is the American southwest, where Interstate 19 measures its exit intervals in kilometers. After years of quirk, I-19's signs have gotten old and worn and now need to be replaced with new, more reflective units.
In a very American move, the Arizona Department of Transportation will likely replace the "Km" signs with ones labeled "miles", as well as reconfigure the interstate's exit numbers. But alas, there's a problem, as always. People who have been using I-19 for years have grown used to the exit numbers and think the rearrangement - said to cost approximately $1.5 million in stimulus money - will bring about some problems.
Jim Green, owner of the Inn at San Ignacio, explains: "You'd think it wouldn't be a big deal, but it is. Think about how much money my company has spent directing people to Exit 56. Think about the literature, the brochures, the tour books...I've been in the hotel business since 1997 and I've been asked by my guests thousands of times about the metric signs. They aren't complaining. They are intrigued."
While that argument at least makes sense, there are some people out there who, according to the New York Times, don't like the signs because "they look foreign". Christ. How about the fact that the metric system actually makes sense and uses measurable intervals (instead of an arbitrary number like 5,280 feet in a mile and 3 feet in a "yard"). I don't know, maybe I'm just an evil Commie...
Understandably, the signs may confuse some, but saying we want it out of here because the Amurrica "beat" the foreign metric system just makes people look like tools.
As for the project, "local opposition" has forced it to be put on hold for the time being until a new strategy can be planned out. However, officials think they have come up with a solution: new signs in "miles" to get I-19 up with the times, while the old exit number would be labeled on them as well (e.g. "Old Exit ##").
Seems like that should have been the plan from the get-go. Ah, politicians and their lack of clear thinking or decisiveness...
By Phil Alex
Source: NYT , Photo: Google Maps