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MailTribune.com
  • Since You Asked

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  • Quarter-mile signs went up by request
    On Pacific Highway just south of Stewart Avenue is a sign reading Phoenix — 1/4 and Talent 6. A quarter of a mile further is another sign that reads Phoenix — and Talent 5 3/4. Wouldn't it have been cheaper to put one sign halfway between reading: Phoenix — and Talent 6? I have never seen another distance marker that showed quarter miles.
    P.S. There are no cross streets between the first and second signs.
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    We talked to a few Oregon Department of Transportation employees to try to answer your question, Al.
    John Vial, district manager for the department, said he hasn't seen another mileage sign showing quarter miles, either. He said the signs were put up at the request of people in Phoenix and Talent, who wanted an accurate depiction of mileage.
    Gary Dusenberry, who works on ODOT's sign crew (he doesn't know of another quarter-mile sign, either) did some research for us and found that those signs were put up in 1989. Dusenberry said an ODOT employee from Salem mapped out where to put the signs, and Dusenberry doesn't know why one sign wasn't put in the middle.
    But he said that when the signs wear out and need to be replaced, crews will install just one sign in the middle, rounded off to the nearest mile.
    Dusenberry estimated that such a sign would cost about $150 today, so that extra sign undoubtedly cost less than that 10 years ago. But because Dusenberry and Vial haven't seen another quarter-mile sign, Al, it doesn't look like it's a common practice to put them up.
    Incidentally, mileage signs measure the distance to a post office in a city, not to the city limits. So that sign showing Phoenix — 1/4 means it's three and one-quarter miles to Phoenix's post office.
    Joan Symons, senior area support specialist for ODOT, said that method of measuring mileage has been used ever since she started working for ODOT 23 years ago.
    Symons said those measurements were what the trucking industry used to pay drivers -- they were called post office miles. While the trucking industry doesn't use that system anymore, mileage signs still use a town's post office as the point from which to determine mileage.
    (Send your questions to , Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; or by fax to (541) 776-4376; or by e-mail to:
    Please include your name, address and phone number for verification.)
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