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I-90 - What do you call it?

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

Topics:  Interstate Highway System

I-90 - What do you call it?

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
February 11, 2009

When I listen to the morning program on Y103.9 and hear the traffic reports, I wonder whether the traffic reporters are from California or watching too much California TV. When I hear them talk about traffic on "the I-90", I recall my brief residence in L.A. in 1989. Yech......

Out there they call their highways "the" (road number); e.g., "the 405". I didn't think we do that around here. You know, good ol' Midwestern values.... Use the name of the roadway, such as "I-90" or "the Tollway". Except when you mention "the Tollway", you'd better mention which stretch of the Tollway you mean.

So, what do you think? Is my reaction to "the I-90" just dredging up bad memories of the speeders in L.A.? I joked when I was out there that I was probably going to get a ticket for obeying the speed limit!

I remember asking a traffic sergeant one day why his officers drove so fast (like, 70MPH in a 55MPH on a surface street!). His answer? "They can't get there if they don't drive fast."

That only made sense to me because one of the salesmen I had been training had told me the same thing. He had been complaining about buying brakes and tires so often on his car, and I asked him why he drove so fast. "I can't get there if I don't."

It's definitely a strange way to express it. Neither said that he couldn't get there "as quickly" if he didn't drive fast; just that he couldn't get there (at all), if he didn't drive fast.

Take the current survey. Do you call I-90 "the I-90" or "I-90"?

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