US: Washington State Wants to Stop Theft of Mile 420 Signs. Its Solution? Mile 419.9. - PressFrom - US
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USWashington State Wants to Stop Theft of Mile 420 Signs. Its Solution? Mile 419.9.

16:41  12 january  2019
16:41  12 january  2019 Source:   nytimes.com

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The state Department of Transportation has replaced some mile -marker signs with the numbers 68.9 or 419 . 9 , or removed mileposts 69 and 420 altogether, to combat thefts .

Few major highways traverse 420 miles or more within the borders of a single state . By my count, the removal and replacement of the two signs in Washington , one sign in Colorado and now one in Idaho means that there may only be 11 420 - mile markers left in the United States . Three of these are

Washington State Wants to Stop Theft of Mile 420 Signs. Its Solution? Mile 419.9.© Elaine Thompson/Associated Press A mile marker on Interstate 82 in Washington State that’s in no jeopardy of being stolen. The state’s Transportation Department has struggled to keep people from stealing mile markers with numbers that have more amusing connotations.

The Washington State Department of Transportation has a problem that just won’t go away.

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For years, people have persistently stolen those green and white mile markers posted along the highway. The most popular signs to pilfer are Mile 420, a popular number among marijuana enthusiasts, and Mile, ahem, 69. (If you don’t know that one by now, we can’t help you.)

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The thefts are a problem Washington state has had to contend with repeatedly, with Route 12 also reaching their 420 th mile before crossing into Idaho. Since most highways aren't longer Play a bigger role in our journalism. Together, we want to bring to light more secrets powerful people don’t want told.

States like Washington and Colorado have also replaced 420 signs with 419 . 9 after consistently having to replace them after thefts by supposed sticky-fingered stoners. Adam Rush of the Idaho transportation department says officials have replaced the old sign along US Highway 95 with “ MILE

“They will typically go and take those more than anything,” said Trevor McCain, who specializes in driver information signs at the Transportation Department. “They have special meanings to some people.”

So the sign aficionados in Washington had to get creative. In hot spots for sign theft, they’ve simply moved the highway marker back one-tenth of a mile and tweaked the sign to say Mile 419.9. Or Mile 68.9.

The solution has not always been effective. In 2009, the state added a Kelly green sign reading Mile 68.9 to Route 231 in eastern Washington, said Ryan Overton, a spokesman with the Transportation Department. Two years later, someone stole it. Three years after that, its replacement disappeared.

And in another two years, drivers were yet again deprived of knowing the midpoint between Miles 68 and 70.

Transportation Department employees also have the burden of explaining to people that this pattern of sign theft is not at all a laughing matter.

The mile markers are meant to help ambulances and the police locate vehicles in the event of an emergency like a car crash, Mr. Overton said. And in rural areas, they can be crucial in giving drivers a geographical point of reference.

“These are a big safety issue, and that’s why we ask people not to take them,” he said.

The Transportation Department has also tried to impress upon people that the financial burden of replacing these signs ultimately falls on taxpayers.

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States like Washington and Colorado have also replaced 420 signs with 419 . 9 after consistently having to replace them after thefts by supposed sticky-fingered stoners. Rush added that this is the only 420 sign the department has replaced in Idaho, a state known for its strict anti-marijuana laws

States like Washington and Colorado have also replaced 420 signs with 419 . 9 after consistently having to replace them after thefts by supposed sticky-fingered Rush said that the department didn’t want to leave the milepost empty because the signs can be valuable for drivers tracking their journey.

This isn’t the first solution that the Transportation Department has tried. Mr. Overton said that a department employee recalled a story from about 15 years ago in which they installed a Mile 69 marker using a steel post in concrete. It wasn’t long before someone used a car to yank the sign off the ground.

Another attempt involved replacing the problem markers with blank signs, Mr. McCain said. John Bryant, a spokesman for the Washington State Patrol, said that several years ago, when he worked in the southern part of the state, the Mile 69 marker in Yakima County proved to be particularly elusive. At one point, the state installed a blank sign to mark the spot, he said.

Mr. Overton estimated that this problem has existed for about 20 years. Rick Johnson, another spokesman for the state patrol, said it felt as if it had been an annoyance for “as long as they’ve had signs.”

“Or as long as 420 has been a thing,” he said. (“420” has multiple origin stories, with some saying it originated with a group of high schoolers in the 1970s who met to smoke weed at 4:20 p.m., and others probably mistakenly citing a police code for someone smoking marijuana.)

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States like Washington and Colorado have also replaced 420 signs with 419 . 9 after consistently having to replace them after thefts by supposed sticky-fingered Rush said that the department didn’t want to leave the milepost empty because the signs can be valuable for drivers tracking their journey.

Idaho becomes the latest state to replace its 420 mile marker to thwart mischievous thieves. Rush added that this is the only 420 sign the department has replaced in Idaho, a state known for its strict anti-marijuana laws despite being nearly surrounded by states with relaxed pot regulations.

Other states have also tried decimal points as a solution to disappearing signage. Several years ago, Colorado went all the way to the hundredths place when it created a Mile 419.99 marker for Interstate 70, The Denver Post reported. By 2015, Idaho had gone for a Mile 419.9 sign, according to The Associated Press.

There is some hope for Washington’s solution just south of Spokane, the state’s second-largest city. On Route 195, the Mile 69 sign was replaced with one marking Mile 68.9 about three years ago, Mr. Overton said, and it has not been stolen since.

At least not yet.

Follow Julia Jacobs on Twitter: @juliarebeccaj.

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This is interesting!