Patterico's Pontifications


Survey: Do You Call Your Local Freeway “the 10″ or “I-10″ or “10”?

Filed under: General — Patterico @ 7:11 pm

Here in L.A., freeway names are preceded by the word “the”: the 405, the 10, or the 60.

In Texas, they are not. You say: 30, 35, or maybe I-35.

So where does the “the” stop?

I am drawing on the vast geographical diversity of the readership of this blog to ask one simple question:

How do you refer to your local freeways?

I want everyone to answer, even if you’re just confirming what I said: “Yeah, I’m Joe Doakes and sure enough, we do say ‘the 10′ in L.A.” Because I want to find out exactly where this changes.

Plus, it’ll be fun to find out where you’re from anyway. So answer up! Even lurkers.

222 Responses to “Survey: Do You Call Your Local Freeway “the 10″ or “I-10″ or “10”?”

  1. In Chicago, they have names. The Eisenhower, The Bishop Ford, etc. Took me forever to figure that out.

    XBradTC (2df997)

  2. Born in the San Fernando Valley some 60 years ago, living now in Santa Clarita–so I KNOW the answer to this one.

    If it’s a freeway, it’s “The 5″ as in “take the 5.” If it’s a highway, it’s “highway 14,” “highway 126″ or just “14,” “126”, as in take the 5 to northbound 14, then 138 east. No “the” for a state highway.

    ‘Nuff said!

    ManlyDad (cfbb8c)

  3. Oh, comment to XBradTC: most (all) of our freeways have names, but they seem to have fallen into disuse. Also, one freeway may have several names, depending on where you are. I-5 (The 5) may be the Golden State Freeway or the San Diego Freeway, but the 405 can also be the San Diego Freeway.

    Also, nobody here pays any attention to exit numbers (where they even exist). We use street names because we are highly edumacated.

    ManlyDad (cfbb8c)

  4. And, oh again. The 5 can also be the Santa Ana Freeway. NOW, ’nuff said.

    ManlyDad (cfbb8c)

  5. Well, even though you mentioned Texas already, the other thing we do, at least here in Dallas, is tend to refer to roads by name rather than number. LBJ instead of I-635, Bush Turnpike instead of Highway 190 or 161, Stemmons instead of I-35E.

    About the only counterexample I can think of is I-30, which does not tend to be called ‘Tom Landry Highway’. Instead it’s still called the Turnpike, or the Fort Worth Turnpike, even though it hasn’t been a toll road for over 30 years, iirc.

    Skip (f12b3c)

  6. Here in Portland, the main highways are known as “I-5″, “217”, and “US 30″. (Also I-84, I-205, I-405.)

    217 is a state route. US 30 is also known as “the Sunset Highway”.

    Steven Den Beste (99cfa1)

  7. Denver metro area residents say “I25″, “I70″, “C470″ and “E470″ but one short section of freeway is alternately “225” or “I225″.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  8. NW Florida here near Destin, transplant from Middle GA and in both places we call them I-75, I-10 etc.

    David Wilson (f20f92)

  9. Here in Nebraska, we call the interstate “80.”
    No extraneous verbiage here…

    Highways go by “Highway 6″ or “6,” as in “take six west until you get to…”

    That is all…

    Sgt. York (5302a0)

  10. Central Texas:

    Going from Dallas to Round Top:

    take 10 to 290, 290 to Carmine and turn south on 153 to Round Top. No “I”, no “the”.

    retire05 (5fcc71)

  11. As you already noted, there’s no “the” in Texas. We say I-20 in my West Texas neighborhood.

    DRJ (21aa5f)

  12. It’s the 210 and the 605. The 405 is the San Diego Fwy, and the 5 is either the Golden State or the Santa Ana. 110 is the Harbor fwy or the Pasadena Fwy. Pomona Fwy (60)

    In Seattle it’s I-90 and the 405 Fwy, the 520 bridge, and I-5. (no “the”) Also 522 and The Alaska Way Viaduct (always four words). And the One-Sixty-Seven ( state highway, but not with the words “highway”)

    Others are highways, like highway 18.

    Tacoma has I-705, a short spur through downtown.

    steve miller (e5eca4)

  13. When I lived in the San Jose area, there was no “the” either. Just “5” or “805”, never “the 5.”

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  14. Come to think of it, though, we do say “the Loop.” Does that count?

    DRJ (21aa5f)

  15. I always thought it was called The Santa Monica Freeway west of the East L.A. Interchange and the San Bernardino Freeway east of that interchange.

    And it’s The Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway, to boot.

    The problem with L.A.’s freeways is that all the freeways have names and numbers. Some freeways have two names (such as US101, which is either The Hollywood Freeway or the Ventura Highway), and some names have two numbers (such as The Hollywood Freeway, which is alternately CA-170 or US101).

    And don’t even get me started on The San Diego Freeway, which doesn’t go anywhere near San Diego :)

    Steverino (b42fd7)

  16. Here in San Diego we have “the 5″, “the 15″, “the 8″, etc.

    When I first moved out here, San Diegans were confused when I would use the term “highway”. Now when my folks come out here to visit from New York and I tell them to get on the “freeway” they give me blank looks.

    Nels (364116)

  17. When I lived in California, I took the 5 to work, the 405 to visit some of my LA friend, and the 10 to visit other friends.

    When I’m on the East Coast, I took 128 to work, 93 to Boston, 64 to Williamsburg, 495 around D.C..

    On my drive to and from California, I took the 40 all the way back home, the 10 and the 8 through the southwestern states, and [insert highway number here] through the rest of the country.

    bridget (add3eb)

  18. Well, even though you mentioned Texas already, the other thing we do, at least here in Dallas, is tend to refer to roads by name rather than number. LBJ instead of I-635, Bush Turnpike instead of Highway 190 or 161, Stemmons instead of I-35E.

    Yeah, I was half an hour late to my friend’s house in Dallas a few years back because he told me to take LBJ at a particular point, and I passed it because it said 635.

    Patterico (cb443b)

  19. Indiana: I-65, I-465, I-74, etc. No The. Sometimes just the numbers: “Did you take 65?”

    Anwyn (0ab609)

  20. Amendment: I-90 is “the Pike” in Massachusetts. I got really confused when people would say to take “I-90″ somewhere.

    bridget (add3eb)

  21. Come to think of it, though, we do say “the Loop.” Does that count?

    Sure. In Fort Worth it’s common to hear “Loop 820.”

    Patterico (cb443b)

  22. In Chicago, numbers or names, and if names you use The. The Eisenhower, the Tri-State, etc.

    Anwyn (0ab609)

  23. Minnesota here.

    It’s always 94 (occasionally I94), 35W, 494, Crosstown, 61, or – for Ramsey County roads (St. Paul area) “E” or “County E”.

    It seemed to me that in North Dakota (where I grew up) it was much more common to hear the “I” before an Interstate number.

    I’ve often wondered where the “the” comes from (“the One and Nine”, “The Dan Ryan”, “The 405″).

    Mitch Berg (91d047)

  24. So answer up! Even lurkers.

    NYS. Interstates are #s only: “10.” Highways (urban) are either numbers only or routes: “10” or “Route 10.”

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  25. I’m not sure why, but I always thought LBJ Freeway only applied to 635N and not to 635S. And isn’t 635S also I-20?

    I’m in Shreveport now and it’s I-20, 220 (for the bypass) and I-49.

    Thinking about this hurts. I’m not sure I can find my way to WalMart now.

    Donna B. (30eeb0)

  26. In Hawaii we have all of three (3) Interstates: THE H1, THE H2, and THE H3. All on Oahu. Those of us who are old enough to remember a time before there were any freeways, remember the H1’s predecessor, THE Arterial.

    StavrosTheExtraCrispy (eb59d4)

  27. In Atlanta the fun is figuring out where I285-North, South, East, and West are, where each begins and ends. We also have interstate intersections with ocal names like Malfunction Junction and Spaghetti Junction.

    twolaneflash (6c1719)

  28. Orlando, FL: it’s “I-4″, “I-95″, without “the”. However major state toll roads get double duty; “The 417/The Greeneway”, “The 528/The Beachline”, “The 408/The Crosstown”, etc….and all include “the”.

    navyvet (4c272e)

  29. I live about 25 miles south of Mammoth Lakes, CA and 25 miles north of Bishop, CA. Here, we refer to highways & freeways by number only, without the “the” (i.e., 395, 203, 80). All muntain passes are known by geographic name rather than by hwy number (Tehachapi, Tioga, Montgomery, Monitor),

    Kenseica (325b7f)

  30. Inland Empire, and the freeways are spoken of as “the 215″ or “the 60″, but my GPS unit says “CA 60″ and “I 215″.

    Yes, it actually talks to me.

    Weirdest thing I’ve heard from it so far was on a drive to Vegas, when it said (northbound near Baker) “You’ve been driving for a while. Do you need a rest?”

    My wife thought it was haunted, because I had JUST yawned.

    Drumwaster (d67aaf)

  31. Here in central NC I have always heard I-95 and such although occasionally they throw a directional on the end.

    Dawnsblood (a83e77)

  32. Like XBradTC and anwyn, I’m in Chicago now (names, numbers, and “the”).

    I recently moved from Las Vegas, which uses the “The 10″ format (“The best way to the Strip is to get on the 95, transfer to the 15, then take the Tropicana exit”).

    Tom (956b82)

  33. My wife thought it was haunted, because I had JUST yawned.

    Comment by Drumwaster — 6/25/2008 @ 7:52 pm

    That’s pretty funny. Maybe it was a version of
    this computer (via HotAir Headlines today)

    no one you know (1ebbb1)

  34. I live about five miles from the 110 in Torrance, CA.

    Zoltan (31d430)

  35. Another report from Patterico’s hometown, confirming what’s been noted before: No “the” before the highway number, and, most of the time, in casual conversation, no “I” preceding the interstate number. When I’m giving directions, however, I’ll usually use the full name of the highway, to make certain the recipient understands: “Take I-20 west to U.S. 377, and head south on 377 to FM 1187.”

    The only time I hear freeways referred to by their names is by the Dallas traffic reporters (Stemmons Freeway is I-35E northbound out of downtown Dallas; LBJ is I-635, the loop around Dallas.

    Houston has its own nomenclature for I-610, the first loop the city had (the second, farther out, being Beltway 8). If you’re southbound on the part of 610 on the west side of town, you’re on West Loop South.

    Diffus (f16102)

  36. Santa Monica born and raised and I say, “The 10,” of course.

    That’s the right way. 😉

    h2u (4a7c7f)

  37. It sounds like use of “the” with road names/numbers ends somewhere east of The California.

    DRJ (21aa5f)

  38. Chicago here. I confirm the earlier posts. “The” for names, no “the” for route numbers.

    Jim C. (33af9d)

  39. New Orleans…

    I-10, I-610 or I-510…I-12…parts of these have names, like the “Twin Spans” or the “12 Mile Bridge” but is is all called “I” something…

    The Causeway over Lake Ponchartrain (longest bridge over water in America, 23.9 miles) is called “the Causeway”. It is not really a part of any identified road.

    reff (59946f)

  40. we also have tollways here in Dallas. used to be easy when you said take the tollway everyone knew what you meant. but now if you say that some get confused by if you mean PGBT, which can also be called 190, and in carrollton is called by a lot of people trinity mills. and in irving south of lbj its called 161.

    chas (12a229)

  41. Growing up in NE Oklahoma, we had no “the”. Here in Portland, OR, still no “the”. And I’ll confirm no “the” in Texas.

    roy (78d4a2)

  42. Anybody besides me wonder how Hawaii has an interstate? Heck, it doesn’t even go inter-island!

    Diffus (f16102)

  43. Minneapolis/St Paul MN — spoken: 35w, 35e, i94 (sometimes 94), 394, 494, 694; 62 or crosstown, us12, us10, 212 (no US), Minnesota state or county are usually spoken “highway 36″ or “county 32″ respectively … I sometimes use “the” when writing them out, especially in past tense “We took the 494 loop, west past 35w, then north to 62…”

    htom (412a17)

  44. I live in L.A. now, but come originally from Michigan, more or less the Detroit area. There, if referring to a freeway by number, then you just say the number, or letter-number combination, as in “94”, or “I-75″, or “696”. However, there is one freeway in Detroit called “the Lodge”, and you always say “the”.

    [IMH] (f19ec3)

  45. Well, here in Seoul, I have no idea what the locals are saying most of the time, but when I lived in the DC area, it was always just “95 is a parking lot today” and “yeah, well you should see 395″

    John (236c30)

  46. Tollway In Rockford Illinois is I, as in I-90.

    All others are just by the numbers like 39 or 90/94.

    LifeTrek (d258cb)

  47. A reader from Seoul. Cool. I’d like to hear more about that, John.

    DRJ (21aa5f)

  48. growing up in pacific palisades, we called it the santa monica freeway. 405 was the san diego freeway. here in oregon it’s 101 up the coast (i can hear its muted traffic noise, ever so slightly from the other side of my big escalonia hedge as i type this) and 5 up the willamette valley. if i’m ever elected governor of oregon, i will sever 101 and 5 at the border with high explosives so californians can’t get in.

    assistant devil's advocate (d931dc)

  49. Except in Chicago, I think most of the midwest says “I-55″ or “I-80″…

    Scott Jacobs (d3a6ec)

  50. Here in Arizona most people say “I-10″; a few say “the I-10″ and almost nobody says “10” or “the 10″.

    Icy Truth (1e7f95)

  51. Both. Depends on the mood or situation. If I need to transition or lane change, I omit the preposition.

    For out of town roads it becomes less personal (“Take 80? “). Locally and with time, it becomes more conversational. (“How bout the 405?”)

    Vermont Neighbor (31ccb6)

  52. In the Twin Cities we usually say “394”, “100”, “35” (or “35W” and “35E”). In Iowa we usually said “35”, “30”, and “80” or else “I35″.

    jowens (a64a13)

  53. Here in the Great State of Alabamistan, Interstates are ” I ” (pronounced “Aye”)

    ..and we have;

    I-10: “Aye Tee’un”, running from Florduh (with the Redneck Riviera)-to-‘Nawlins

    I-59: “Aye Fiddynine”, running from The University (of Alabama in Tuscaloosa), through BermingHAYum, to Chat-nooga.

    I-65: ‘Aye SickstyFye’, from Naishv’lle, through BermingHAYum and LA (Lower Alabama) to Moe’Beal


    I-85:’Aye AityFye’, from Mon’gmry-to-UhT’lanta

    Please don’t blame me, I’m an imported foreigner from Florduh…and the hayseeds here really DO go to family reunions to meet women.

    mjn1957 (6e1275)

  54. I grew up in the San Gabriel Valley, and frequently drove on the 210, the 10, the 5, the 605 and the 101. A year out of college, I moved to San Diego, and soon learned that somewhere in “the” O.C., the 5 turns into 5. Then I moved to Chicago where, as XBradTC rightly noted above, freeways are generally referred to by name rather than number. Even there, on the rare occasion that the freeways are referred to by number, the lose the article, e.g., you can drive on the Kennedy or the Edens, but if you drive far enough in either direction, eventually the name will go away and you’ll end up on 90 or 94, or possibly on I-90 or I-94, but definitely not on “the” 90 or “the” 94. In that vein, I respectfully dissent form our host’s statement that Chicago’s “the Loop” is equivalent to L.A.’s “the 10.” It ain’t.

    Then I moved to the Bay Area. Like San Diego, no more names there, just numbers, sans “the.” After that I moved back to L.A., then to “the” O.C., where I never did figure out where 5 stops and “the” 5 begins. Then to Central Virginia, where I frequently traversed 64 and 95, and occasionally I-64 or I-95, but never, ever, not in a million years “the” 64 or “the” 95. Consistent with my experience in Chicago, however, we did make our share of road trips to Connecticut through NYC, where we exited the 95 by way of the Deegan Expressway, the Hutch, the Merritt Parkway and others. Now we’re here in the Triad, where I frequently traverse I-40, which would probably just be called 40 if there weren’t a Business 40, which used to be I-40, running through the heart of Winston-Salem (and now the same deal through Greensboro). Cf. US-52, which is universally referred to simply as “52.”

    Long story short: Angelenos attach “the” to anything having to do with a freeway, while everyone else uses it for names but not numbers.

    Xrlq (62cad4)

  55. …and how could I have overlooked ‘Aye Twinny” (I-20) from BermingHAYum to UhTlanta

    mjn1957 (6e1275)

  56. Here in Sacramento, I normally refer to the freeway by number only (take 80 to 680). Sometimes I add the “I.” Same goes for highways, (take 80 to 680 to 4). I agree with a few others who have said that it depends on the context and to whom you are speaking.

    PDizzle (cb6b9b)

  57. I grew up in Texas, and I just say “101” even though I live in CA (Monterey Co.) now. Sometimes I’ll use the “I” prefix for interstates.

    When I lived in Vegas, it was numbers-only there (“215″), except for co-workers from CA, who said “the 215″.

    Here in Monterey Co., I think they just use the numbers, although I’m so used to hearing it both ways that I don’t even notice it.

    john1v6 (e362ed)

  58. I’m a Yankee transplant in Houston (Katy, TX). I say I-10. I actually live 300yds from I-10. But it’s also known as the “Katy Freeway”. And then we have the Gulf Freeway, the EastTex, The North Freeway, the South Freeway…etc. Try finding any of those names on a map. It made naviguessing when I was househunting very interesting.

    rudytbone (93b68e)

  59. Chicago area. What XBradTC and Xrlq said.

    nk (11c9c1)

  60. Concur with SPQR in #7: Growing up in Colorado it was always “I-25,” “I-70,” “Highway 50,” “Highway 24,” etc.

    Slight difference with Bridget in #20: When I lived in Boston 15 years ago most people I knew called it “Mass Pike” not just “the Pike.” Highway 1 was called “Route 1.”

    And as a Southern Californian I call the highways “the 405, “the 101,” etc.

    JVW (ce519b)

  61. There are two theories here Patterico, which I offer to you as a former LA area commuter:

    (1) Because of the names for the Ventura and the Hollywood freeways being nouns that grammatically require “the”, the numeric designations also get “the” out of habit by speakers.


    (2) The reality is that there is a lot of terminology unique to Los Angeles metro area traffic that is standardized for one reason. Everyone in LA listens to the same AM radio station for traffic reports in their car. 1070 AM. And 1070 has had the exact same people reporting traffic for decades.

    Los Angelenos all copy the morning traffic guy’s speaking pattern.

    Take your pick.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  62. I live in South Jersey, and no “the” in road names except “The Parkway”, “The Turnpike”, and “The Schuylkill”. Even in Eastern PA, “The Turnpike” refers to The New Jersey Turnpike. The Pennsylvania Turnpike is referred to as “The Pee Ay Turnpike”.

    Interestingly, “The Schuykill” Expressway, which is the main way into Philadelphia from the Northwest, is referred to verbally between people and on local traffic reports as “The Schuykill”, but there are NO road signs calling it that. Well, very few, anyway. Someone from out of town getting directions to take “The Schuykill” and using road signs will get hopelessly lost. It is I76 for most of its length, and that’s what the signs say.

    j.pickens (53ee7a)

  63. That’s because freeways in California have alternative names. You couldn’t say “take San Diego Freeway”. You would have to put “the” in front of San Diego. The “the” then ends up in the number form of it as well.

    j curtis (c84b9e)

  64. In Baton Rouge, we call it “I-10″. No “the.” And we call it an interstate, not a freeway. There are no “freeways” in Louisiana. We do call the larger state roads “highways.” But we don’t use that term for the interstates (I-10, I-20, I-49, I-55).

    PatHMV (0e077d)

  65. Californians distinguish between toll roads and non-toll roads (the latter is “the freeway”).

    I should add: in Florida, there is I-95, I-75, etc for interstates, and 301, etc., for state roads.

    bridget (add3eb)

  66. In that vein, I respectfully dissent form our host’s statement that Chicago’s “the Loop” is equivalent to L.A.’s “the 10.” It ain’t.

    Huh? Aren’t I your host?

    I was talking about Fort Worth’s Loop 820.

    I think you have me mixed up with some other host.

    Patterico (cb443b)

  67. I think ‘the Loop’ reference night have been to my comment and your (Patterico’s) response.

    Only on the internet could my town’s Loop be confused with Chicago’s or Fort Worth’s.

    DRJ (21aa5f)

  68. So why do Californians preface numbered freeways with “the” when the rest of us don’t?

    DRJ (21aa5f)

  69. You couldn’t say “take San Diego Freeway”.

    Actually, you could say that, but people way back when would drop the word “freeway” and they couldn’t say “take San Diego to Santa Ana” when giving directions and referring to roads. “Take the San Diego to the Santa Ana” would mean 405 to 5 and the inclusion of the word “the” was necessary to add or it would sound like you are saying something else. From there, the “the” gets stuck in front of the number version because of some parlance psychology.

    j curtis (c84b9e)

  70. We don’t go to “hospital,” we go to “the hospital” — so of COURSE it’s THE 110! Duh. I don’t know what’s wrong with NoCal and the rest of the country. (And personally, i think calling fwys by their ultimate destinations, like the Glendale Freeway, is a guy thing. Confusing! I’m from Riverside originally, and I don’t remember ever hearing the 91 called the Riverside Freeway, or any of that other stuff.)

    Not Rhetorical (ab8025)

  71. Born and riased in Southern California, and of course it is The 5, The 10, etc.

    As a kid in Orange County we always refered to the freeways by name, The Santa Ana Fwy, The Riverside Fwy and so on. It was a simple system because the name ususally refered to where the freeway took you. Want to go to Santa Ana? Take the Santa Ana Fwy. Same for the Harbor, Glendale, Ventura, Garden Grove and countless other freeways. As LA transitioned into a giant urban blob stretching from The SF Valley to OC, the communities lost the uniqueness. Due to that, the freeway naming system gradually fell out of use. But since freeways were always known as “The (freeway name)” Folks just started appending “the” to the route number. It just felt right.

    When I was back in Boston with my sister, one of the locals was chuckling at us talking about traveling on The 93. When asked why she used the word “the” she replied, “because it’s a freeway”. I knew exactly what she meant.

    Jeff C. (7b62cb)

  72. We don’t go to “hospital,” we go to “the hospital”

    Unless we think we’re British, and haven’t “realised” that, in fact, we aren’t.

    Patterico (cb443b)

  73. Seattle area…
    the major freeway is “I-5″

    The spur is just “405”, and us highways are “highway 18″ or just “18”

    no “the” prefix to any of them.

    akm (ee680a)

  74. Out here where America’s day begins (CNMI) we have “Beach Road” “Middle Road” and “Back Island Road” even though they have other names.

    Americano (a7299d)

  75. Here in the Inland Empire we take the 15 or the 215 south to I-8, the 163 or the 805 or the 52 or the 94. If we go north and west we hit the 91 to the 71 to the 210 or over to the coast and the 5. Or we could take the 10 or the 60.

    I do not think it has always been this way. I used to live in San Diego and I remember thinking how weird it was when my sister-in-law in Irvine talked about “the” 405. At that time we used I-5, I-8, Rt. 163.

    Beltways in DC, Perimeters in Atlanta, Thruways in NY, turnpikes in PA and NJ, freeways in California, Interstates, the fun of moving around.

    Sara (3337ed)

  76. By the name, of course. (At least if the freeway has a name.)

    Michael Ejercito (a757fd)

  77. #72 – I don’t know, in Pennsylvania when I was growing up, we went “to hospital” or someone was “in hospital.” At that time, my family had been on American soil for 250 years and I doubt they ever thought they were English, being Welsh, Scots-Irish, German and French.

    Sara (3337ed)

  78. When I was back in Boston with my sister, one of the locals was chuckling at us talking about traveling on The 93. When asked why she used the word “the” she replied, “because it’s a freeway”. I knew exactly what she meant.

    Why didn’t you tell them that you were taking the Central Artery?

    bridget (add3eb)

  79. #77: And which side of the Revolutionary War did they fight on??

    I kid! I kid! :oD

    OK, but here’s something I will NEVER wrap my head around in a million years: Did you know that in Minnesota, the children’s game some play — maybe this is mostly rural — is Duck, Duck, GRAY DUCK?? I nearly choked on my hotdish when I learned that. (That’s casserole, doncha know. Isn’t that different?)

    Not Rhetorical (ab8025)

  80. Been in LA for just over 30 years. I say “the 405,” “the 101,” “the 10″ etc.
    Grew up in New York and my recollection is that we referred to the highways and parkways by their names, not their numbers, and always used “the” before them, e.g., the BQE, the Cross Bronx Expressway, the West Side Highway, etc.

    Ira (5a8831)

  81. We say “the freeway” or the 101…. because it’s the only highway we have that runs through town.
    Sometimes when giving directions I’ll say take 154 to Santa Ynez, but to a local I’ll say I’m taking San Marcos Pass or just going over “the pass”.
    We’ve got a couple of State Highways that are 30MPH rural surface streets that wind through the canyons but nobody calls them by number. Tourists use the numbers and even though I’ve lived here my whole life and they do have those nifty green signs with reflective numerals, I have zero idea what street has what number.
    There is a real short freeway to UCSB, Goleta beach and the airport that cuts off of 101 but long term locals call it the road to the airport or Ward Memorial but no one knows who Ward is or why he has a 1 mile piece of road named after him. The road to the airport has a number and if I knew the number and for some odd reason I had to use it, I’d preface it with “the”…
    Long story short, we use “the” often, but not exclusively.
    If it was to be pointed out that we say it the same way as people from LA do, we’d be mortified.

    SteveG (71dc6f)

  82. The general rule as I’ve always perceived it is that in Southern California you say “the 210″ and in Northern California you say “580.” The dividing line is roughly the same as the dividing line between getting a “conformed” copy of a filing back from the court and an “endorsed” copy.

    In the 60s and 70s though it was universal to refer to the freeways in Southern California by name. The use of number designations didn’t really take off until the 80s as I recall, and was reinforced by the call boxes being redesignated as, for example, 10-164 rather than SM-164.

    Earle Miller (17d42f)

  83. IIRC

    In Montana it was I-whatever for interstates, state highways were just a number unless it was Highway 2, which was The Highline.

    In Az it was I-10 and I-17, the 101, or the 202, and 60 was just plain 60 (or Hell.)

    I north Idaho it was 90 or 95 and not much else, so no further differentiation was necessary.

    In northeast Tennessee every road has at least three names and nobody uses the same three with any consistency whatsoever. As an added bonus I-26 actually runs more north-south and I-81 more east-west. Getting, or giving directions here is great fun.

    ThomasD (211bbb)

  84. My daughter recently graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, which is midway between LA and SF, therefore attracts lots of students from both north and south. She says the easiest way to tell where someone is from is the freeway test. Southern CA = the 10. Nor Cal = drop the “the.” It’s a foolproof test, and the subject of much intra-state rivalry. BTW, I agree with Jeff C that we old-timers used to just say, the Long Beach, the Pasadena, the Santa Monica, the Harbor. Then they built the 605, and nobody really wanted to call it the San Gabriel River Freeway. That’s when it all started to change, and the numbers took over.

    Francie (9c6835)

  85. When I lived in LA it was “the 10″ etc… and for the first couple years traffic guys calling the interstates “the ventura freeway” etc. drove me nuts till I learned all the names. Growing up in East Texas or later living in New Orleans it was “I-10″ or “interstate 20″. Living in the D.C. area it was just the number: “495” or “75 South” etc.

    EdWood (750972)

  86. Oh, I neglected to mention there are also two highway 11s here, 11E and 11W. And that’s not two ends of the same road. They are two different roads, that actually intesect in Bristol.

    ThomasD (211bbb)

  87. When I lived in the Baltimore-Washington corridor, it was the Beltway, the Parkway and I-95. In Indianapolis you took the 465 Circle.

    Sara (3337ed)

  88. I grew up in the suburbs of Los Angeles, and I grew up calling them “the 10″, “the 7″, but “I-5″. I think I’m equally likely to refer to “I-15″ or “the 15″. The Antelope Valley Highway is “highway 14″. The Angeles Crest Highway is “the Angeles Crest Highway” and never “the 2″ or “highway 2″.

    The Ventura Freeway is eiher “the 134″ or “the 101″, but never “the Ventura Freeway”. (Sorry, Jesse.) The San Bernardino Freeway is usually “the 10″, and sometimes “Interstate 10″ or “I-10″, and sometimes “the San Bernardino Freeway” except where it’s “the Santa Monica Freeway”. It’s never “the Christopher Columbus Transcontinental Highway” except when I’m passing a certain small sign as I leave “PCH” (sometimes “the Pacific Coast Highway” but never “the 1″.) (“Not the one!” — Zathras)

    I’m sure this clears everything up for everybody!

    Karl Lembke (7dd2ba)

  89. I dunno, I ride a mule.

    Festus (5eaab8)

  90. Those of us who grew up with the freeways here in SoCal (starting generally in the 40’s, though the Arroyo Seco pre-dates WW-2) always referred to them by name; but, as they have proliferated, and (as a previous commenter noted) with the numbering of the call-box system, we more and more refer to them by their number.

    The numbers present less confusion, and (finally) CalTrans has been drug into modernity by utilizing the exit-number system mandated by the Feds for Interstates. We now know how far it is from one end of the state to the other, which I always found handy when travelling cross-country.

    Another Drew (8018ee)

  91. We invented freeways in SoCal, so we’re right of course. And don’t give me any of that Euro “autobahn” propaganda.

    Kevin Murphy (0b2493)

  92. To expand on what Nels at #16 said, ’round these parts we say “the 5″, “the 94″, and even “the 52 when referring to a freeway. But when talking about one we happen to be on it becomes “on 5″ or “on 52″. On one particular local morning show the sports cast usually ends with,

    Cookie: In other sports, David.

    David: Ask the guy passing you on northbound 8.

    Alan Kellogg (909332)

  93. If you drive in SoCal, you MUST listen to either or both KNX and KFWB for frequent traffic reports.

    I suspect everyone takes their cue from that, it’s “the” 5, the 10, the 101, the 110, the 105, the 90, the 60, the 15, etc.

    I think part of that is that everyone had a Thomas Bros. map in their car, and were familiar with the numbers and not names.

    Jim Rockford (e09923)

  94. After reading some of the other So. Cal. answers, I asked my son, who has always lived here. He says he takes I-5 north to the 405, but coming south he merges from the 405 to “the” 5.

    Sara (3337ed)

  95. In Everett, WA and the Puget Sound area, it is “I-5″ and “I-90″, but for some reason it only “405” — not “I-405″.

    Many highways say “highway” in front, for example “Highway 18″ and “Highway 9″, but the major highways of 520 (floating bridge to the University of WA) and 526 (highway to Boeing Field in Everett) are just identified just as the number only, with no “highway” preface/prefix.

    Go figure.

    This topic is quite fascinating, I must say!

    Jessica (4e1a5f)

  96. In Seattle: I-405; I-90:, etc. We’re not too imaginative, I guess.

    Bill M (57c57f)

  97. I grew up in LA (born in 1955) but moved to Santa Barbara to attend UCSB in 1973 and have lived there ever since. I now nearly always say “the 101″, “the 405″ etc. However, when I lived in LA, I usually used the “destination name” shorthand like “the Santa Monica freeway” or “the Ventura freeway” because that’s how my parents referred to them (except for “the 5″: They always called it “the 5″!).

    John Lawton (ca1ac2)

  98. In Minneapolis it is simply I-90 or I-94. I think “the” is an LA thing resulting from decades of saying the Santa Monica Freeway etc before the Interstates came along. Just like lots of old New Yorkers call the Port Authority of NY and NJ the “Port of Authority” because it used to be the Port of New York Authority.

    Mahon (23caae)

  99. Born and raised in So. Cal and when I was little we almost always refered to the freeways by name rather than number

    I grew up first in Granada Hills, near the Golden State freeway (the 5). I would be a teenager in Orange County where the 5 is the Santa Ana Freeway.

    I lived in Redondo Beach in my early 20’s where the 91 freeway was called the Artesia freeway

    Darleen (187edc)

  100. I guess the 405 to the 5 was a bad example since they don’t intersect but branch out from the same thoroughfare. Everyone in OC calls the 405 the San Diego Freeway and no one in San Diego has even heard of the 405. They know the 5, which is called the Santa Ana in OC and the Golden State Freeway ( or usually, “the five” ) in LA. I bet San Diegoans don’t use the “the” either and it’s an Orange County/ LA thing.

    j curtis (c84b9e)

  101. Highway fun fact…federal roads that are odd numbered are north/south routes. Even-numbered are east/west. Sooooo…..

    Why is the 101 routinely called 101 east/west by some local traffic reporters? Because it is east/west in the valley from Burbank west to the coast.

    In Chicago, I-94 runs north and south until one gets to Indiana. If someone said to me to take “94 West” to get to downtown from the Toll Road (I-80/90), I would wonder what the heck they were talking about!

    Was this thread inspired by George Carlin’s passing, Pat?

    Ed (fbb07c)

  102. Around Chicago, it varies.

    I-294 is either “the Tri-State” or “294”

    I-94 is “the Edens” or “94”

    I-90 is “the Kennedy” or “the Northwest” (or “the Skyway”)

    I-55 is “the Stevenson”

    I-355 is “355”

    I-88 is “I-88″

    I-290 is “the Eisenhower” east of “294”, “290” west of it

    Rich Rostrom (09ec82)

  103. I note that comment 81 is referring to Santa Barbara, where I went to school.

    I grew up around LA, and during the 60s and 70s there was the Ventura Freeway and the Long Beach Freeway and the Pasadena, the Santa Ana, the Foothill, the Golden State, and the Hollywood Freeways…

    When I moved to Santa Barbara in 1979, the main freeway was 101, the 101, or Highway 101.

    When I moved back to the LA area in the 80s, things would be out the 210, down the 5, or across the 134.

    After a bit, I moved to Silicon Valley, where I can take 280 north to San Francisco, 880 north to Oakland, 680 to 80 east to Sacramento, and 101 or Highway 101 south or north.

    cthulhu (463d75)

  104. Another thing about Houston – when we do refer to our freeways by name, we always include the road. This is probably because they’re almost all named after cardinal directions; “the Southwest” would be rather confusing in a way that the Southwest Freeway is not.

    Diomedes (92b465)

  105. Born and raised on LI Ny. Most everything there is named “Norden State” (Northern State Parkway) Or Meadowbrook or Sagtikos Pkys. No “The” usually unless you’re talking about bridges and tunnels of course. In The City there is “The” The BQE, Major Degeen, Cross Bronx and the LI exception “The Expressway (I-495) In Suffolk County when County roads are referred to by number it’s prefaced with “Route” Route 111 in Smithtown or Route 112 in Patchogue.

    paul from fl (4dd8c4)

  106. Most of the time in Orange County, specifically Huntington Beach, they are called the 10 or the 405. The oddest usage I ever heard was from my dad, from Illinois to San Diego during the Depression, who called them all routes.

    Pat Patterson (f44efe)

  107. Here in Maryland, one uses the number or the name. The numbers don’t get a “the”, only the names do, as in “Take 695 to 95″ or “take 295 to Connecticut Avenue.” When not using the number, one says “take the beltway to 95″ or “take the parkway to Connecticut Ave.”

    Hope you find this helpful.

    sincerely, a daily, lurker

    m.johnson (0e71ac)

  108. I grew up near NYC, and we called the roads simply by number or “I-84″; “the” was reserved for named highways (i.e., “the Saw Mill Parkway”). Same in DE and NJ.

    I now live near Buffalo, and “the” is used all the time – “the 198″ (or equivalent “The Scajacqueda” – “expressway” is optional).

    Go figure.

    Dr. K (5139b5)

  109. going to work as a young lawyer, if I had to drive and have someone follow me, it would sound like this.

    Get on the Edens (at Lake or Old Orchard), go south, the Edens turns into the Kennedy and if you get south of the loop it turns into the Dan Ryan.

    If you wanted to go west you can get on the Eisenhower (sometimes the “Ike”, or the Stevenson.)

    But going to Champaign or Peoria or St. Louis (for a Cubs-Cardinals series…you got on the 57 or got on the 55. etc.)

    cfbleachers (4040c7)

  110. Malaysia for me, although was in South Australia for quite some time before coming back.

    Most highways in Malaysia are named “Federal Highway”, “SPRINT Highway”, “North-South Highway” so we refer to them by their name; sometimes with ‘the’ appended, sometimes not. They do have numerical designators, but ain’t nobody gonna remember that. It’s always the ‘Kajang turn-off” or the “Rawang slip road” or something.

    Similar in Australia, (“Prince’s Highway, “Highway One”) except that if you’re using a UBD may you’re likely to refer to the A-twenty or the B-fifty-two (yes, an actual designation of a highway in Tassie on the way from Hobart to Cradle Mountain).

    And because of that classic old song ‘Convoy’ by C.W. McCoy, I’ll never be able to call it anything other than the eye-one-oh (I-10) ’bout a mile out of Shakey-Town. 😉

    Gregory (f7735e)

  111. I live in South Texas now but lived in Louisiana for many years. I did grow up in Texas as freeways were developing. If it is close by the name is more familiar, such as I-10, if it has a local name it is called that, in the Houston area I have always known, for many years, the southern leg of the I 45 as the Galveston Freeway, that is what it was called in its early days. I think I hear it referred to now as The Southwest Freeway.
    When referring to how to get around large cities such as San Antonio, Houston, DFW we always say the names as shown on the maps, it clears up any confusion for out of towners.

    Ruth H (d0259d)

  112. SigAlert at the Four-Level. KFI in the sky.

    I agree that there is an official lingo directed by the traffic reporters for any metro that ossifies over the years. About 5 radio reporters and their writers pretty much control the way we verbalize about the transportation systems of our hometowns.

    I’m from LA and I travel a lot, and I tend to think about how well I know a city by the extent to which I understand what the hell traffic reporters are talking about.

    I think the most bizarre things are the routes cabbies in Boston have to take around the Back Bay area and the address numbering systems of NYC. At 57th Street you are not in the 5700s.

    Cobb (975425)

  113. In Arkansas, interstates are designated with an I, as in I-40, I-30. Numbered state roads are called highways, or designated with an H, as in H. 70 west.

    Leon Robinette (3a28ce)

  114. In MA it’s “495”, “128” sometimes called “route 128 (pronounced root) which is AKA “95”. However we also have “The Pike” or “the Mass Pike” AKA “90”.

    My advice in MA – get a Garmon.

    Jane (5a66ce)

  115. Indianapolis (actually Noblesville)

    Here we call it by the numbers – 465, 65, 70, 69, 37, even for the state roads, SR. Growing up in Illinois, it was 57, 13, 64, 55 etc …

    JD (75f5c3)

  116. Here in Houston, it’s a mixed bag. I-10, inner loop=loop 610, outer loop=the Beltway, sometimes the destination such as The Katy Freeway.

    It’s never “The -number-“, but sometimes just the number, “Take 59 to the Beltway.”

    Bob (40b271)

  117. Sorry I skipped ahead at around 60, for something completely irrational look to the Florida keys. 1, or the oversea highway (who says that? but it is written) Sorry back to 1 north, is east. 1 south, is west. The Atlantic Ocean is south, by Cuba, and the gulf is north!

    Vmaximus (773b7d)

  118. I bet San Diegoans don’t use the “the” either and it’s an Orange County/ LA thing

    I don’t know if my husband is an exception, but he uses the “the” and he was raised in San Diego.

    Darleen (187edc)

  119. Grew up in Santa Clarita (where ManlyDad is now) and we generally preceded numbered roadways with “The.”

    Now in NorCal. Same deal. Many freeways have names, but no one uses them.


    JRM (355c21)

  120. An interstate highway near where I live is referred to as “I-69,” which sometimes prompts snickers from outsiders. Especially if they were fans of “Wayne’s World”.

    Phil (6d9f2f)

  121. In SE Minnesota we call all the highways just by number, but local news will usually refer to “I-90,” “Highway 14,” and “Highway 52″ (the latter 2 being US highways). Twin Cities news says 394, 494, 694, I-94, 35W, 35E, I-35, Highway 52. In Boston, I rarely if ever heard Route 9 and Route 2 mentioned without saying the word “route”. The only highway in Minnesota I can recall being referred to as a “route” is “Route 61″ along the Mississippi River, but that’s a pretty special road, especially when fall colors are peaking.

    Chris (e4e736)

  122. Here in Michigan we usually just use the numbers, bare for state roads, and usually with ‘I’ for the interstates. Nobody says, “Michigan 23″ they just say 23, but they’ll usually say “I-94″. However, in the radio traffic reports they’ll often use the highway names. I can’t speak for Detroiters (I’m in Ann Arbor, to the ‘left’ of Detroit), but I’ve never heard a non-radio-personality use the highway names.

    Don (62519c)

  123. In Anaheim, California, most everyone I know say “the 5″ or the “the 405″. I never me anyone who said , “I was driving on 5….”

    I do sometimes refer to freeways by their names. “The Santa Ana Freeway” sounds better than “the 5″.

    tyree (8971e1)

  124. Oklahoma City: I40, I44, I35. Outstate I44 East from OKC is the Turner Turnpike, South it’s the Bailey Turnpike.

    The one I had a difficulty learning when we moved here was, NW Hwy and NW Expwy. Two totally different roads.

    When we lived in Detroit it was ‘The Lodge’, ‘The Ford’ or ‘The Chrysler’

    Buckshot (c46fd2)

  125. My daughter recently graduated from Cal Poly San Luis Obispo, which is midway between LA and SF, therefore attracts lots of students from both north and south. She says the easiest way to tell where someone is from is the freeway test. Southern CA = the 10. Nor Cal = drop the “the.” It’s a foolproof test, and the subject of much intra-state rivalry.

    Exactly. I grew up in the Bay Area.

    I always laugh at TV shows that are set in somewhere other than LA–but filmed there–when the characters use ‘the’ in front of a numbered freeway. I’ve lived in Philly, DC and now Texas and never heard anyone say it that way unless they are from SoCal.

    Right now I live 3 hours from a real freeway, so it doesn’t come up much!

    MamaAJ (788539)

  126. I55, I39, I74, I72 here in central IL or just 55, 39, 72, 74 sometimes, i.e., I took 72 to Champaign.

    laddy (6be321)

  127. Someone from out of town getting directions to take “The Schuykill” and using road signs will get hopelessly lost.

    If you’re not from Philly, you’re probably better off not getting on the Schuykill, lol.

    MamaAJ (788539)

  128. In North Texas, I-(number) for Interstates; number only for US Highways.

    tmac (86debe)

  129. Phil – I am 7 miles from 69. I chuckle almost every time I see the signs for it.

    JD (75f5c3)

  130. Here in Central PA, it’s always I-81, I-83, I-78, I-80. Sometimes I just hear “81,” I have never in my life heard THE (direct object) applied to an interstate, but I have only been in CA for three weeks and that was in the late 70s and then I had no hair on my chin.

    In Philly they all have names – the Schuylkill Expressway, the Blue Route. The PA Turnpike is THE Turnpike everywhere, of course – it being the first interstate type highway in this hemisphere. But I-95 is just I-95.

    Highways such as 283 are confusing to use in conversation because they sounds like “to 83,” which it is but that’s not the point. The use of “I” is most helpful for them.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  131. Did you know that –

    One or two-digit interstates are signed north-south if odd or east-west if even. Three-digit interstates are spurs or beltways of the main two-digit interstates – if the third digit is even, it is probably mostly a beltway, if the third digit is odd it is supposed to be a spur.

    Mileposts always run south to north or west to east. Route numbers across the US are assigned that way also, with a few exceptions such as the recently added I-99 in PA.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  132. In Sacramento, its 99, 5, 80 and 50 and, of course Business 80. 50 and 99 are just highways and not interstates but it doesn’t seem to matter.

    laxpat (6fdad9)

  133. Raleigh NC, and actually I think I’ve changed from saying I-40 or I-95, to just using numbers for both interstates and highways. Although it’s quite common to call I-440 the “beltline.”

    Something I haven’t seen anywhere else, it is marked as inner and outer, rather than north/south/etc. Some people say they are totally confused by that, but I find it totally superior to using compass labels for a circle.

    Justin (747191)

  134. “Highway 101″ fell out of use around the time they took the stoplights out.
    Fun times were when you got the green and started out and had two people blow through the red as you were trying to cross 4 lanes.
    Stoplights were good for hitchiking up to SF during the summer of love.

    I might use the name of a freeway when it is also my destination.

    SteveG (71dc6f)

  135. I live in Austin. I noticed a long time ago that in LA the freeways are “the 405″ and so on. That may be true in the Seattle area as well. You never hear it anywhere in Texas that I’ve been.

    K Hays (6da338)

  136. Here in Oklahoma, my memory says we refer to various roads – including interstates – by a Name if it has one, within a particular city. We usually leave off the “the”. Between cities or if there is no name, we refer to it as “I-35″, “I-244″ etc, no “the”.

    Dave (391b76)

  137. Albuquerque here.

    It’s “25” (i.e., I-25) as in “head down 25 for two miles” or “40” (I-40) around here, though some of the time we’ll put the “I” in front of the 25 or 40.

    The use of “the” before any road, highway or street name is a dead giveaway of a Californicator in our midst.

    PatMac (06c123)

  138. In Connecticut I call it “95” for I95 and 15 (in CT) the Hutch (Hutchison River Pkwy in NY.

    No ‘the’ in front of numbers, ‘the’ in front of names.

    Jack (d9cbc5)

  139. Around DC, we just use the numbers, 295 or 97, or whatever.

    tim` (4f2403)

  140. In Arizona it’s I-10 or I-17, although in Phoenix the freeways now have pretty sounds names that tell the outsider nothing when you’re traveling through and trying to make sense of traffic reports.

    In Seattle it’s I-5, I-405, and I-90. The “the” seems to be an LA aberration.

    Judith Jance (701484)

  141. I lived nearly 5 decades in Chicagoland (Evanston, Lincoln Park (Park West), Wilmette…then on to Temecula, then San Diego, now Orange county…and in my experience Chicago is a “name” expressway and California is a “number” expressway…both with “the” in front of the name or number.

    Except: PCH in California and “the 294″ in Northwest suburbs.

    Also…we originally said the Outer Drive…but I don’t think that’s in use as much anymore.

    cfbleachers (4040c7)

  142. Mid Oregon, it’s “I-5″.

    Dennis (0d2cdb)

  143. 50 and 99 are just highways and not interstates but it doesn’t seem to matter.

    Not only that, both 50 and 99 encounter stoplights after leaving Sacramento.

    Michael Ejercito (a757fd)

  144. We have Interstates in Hawaii because Senator Dan Inouye makes sure we get our share of federal funding, and if federal highway dollars can only be spent on Interstate Highways, then by God we will have Interstate Highways.

    My experience is that “the” is optional in front of H1, H2 and H3 – I hear both “take H1″ and “take the H1″. Highways across the Koolau mountains are with – the Pali and the Likelike, but highways in town are without – Nimitz and Kam Highway.

    Dean (7bcdaf)

  145. Illinois – numbered highways are all, for instance, just “294”.

    But there are a lot of named highways and they’re often “the’d”. For instance, “The Edens” “The Kennedy” “The Eisenhower” etc.

    MrJimm (6d0473)

  146. When I lived in New Orleans, many years ago, it seemed that everyone there referred to “the I-10″ (I guess, unlike Baton Rouge – PatHMV, #64). Of course, we had plenty of good names for other roads there: “the Chef Menteur,” “the Causeway,” Airline Highway, Earhart Expressway, and good ol’ Tchoupitoulas Street. “Yeah, you right!”

    MikeHuggins (e9e89c)

  147. Newport Beach here – what else would you call a freeway that half the known world is driving at any given moment? The 405.

    Robert D (135a8c)

  148. Why do people prefer to call it 405 instead of San Diego Freeway?

    Michael Ejercito (a757fd)

  149. Lived in CA for over 50 years….me, mine and ours have always said “the 5″….as in “take the five North to East on the 210….”

    Sue (f9a0a4)

  150. Here in Denver, we refer to them as I-25 and I-70.

    Mark Belt (c6cfed)

  151. And there’s “the 105″ to “the 605″ and “the 90″ between Slauson and Culver…..

    Tru (cc07ca)

  152. When I lived in San Diego, I drove on “the 5.” When I lived in LA, I was often on “the 405″ or “the 101.” And I still call those roadways by those names.

    But now that I am once again east of the Mississippi, “the 64″ just doesn’t sound right.

    Dodd (fbfada)

  153. It’s funny in Western NY.

    In Buffalo they use “the” before everything. I think because people got so used to calling I-90, “the [NY State] thruway”. So if you want to get to Niagara Falls you take “the 290″ to “the 190″. You skip “the 990″. Or if you want to go downtown from “the 90″ (aka the Thruway) you take “the 33″ (a state route).

    In Rochester, you take 390 to 590 to 490. Or you take 590 to Rt 104 to get to Xerox. Or you take 390 to 490 to 531 to get to the westside.

    Drew-ROC (d70cd2)

  154. You can refer to any freeway in So Cal as “the” and people will know what you are talking about. However, some freeways are usually referred to by their destination. The 10 from downtown to Santa Monica is usually referred to as the Santa Monica freeway, but once you are in San Bernardino County its just “the 10.” The 22 is usually referred to as the Garden Grove freeway throughout. However, I’ve never heard the 91 referred to as anything other than the 91 even though it is technically the Riverside freeway heading east and the Artesia Freeway heading west, I’ve never heard the 405 referred to as the San Diego Freeway — but I do sometimes hear the 210 referred to as the Foothill freeway. Why the 210, 22 and portions of the 10 get this designation and the 91, 5, 405, 55, and 57 do not is a mystery.

    Sean P (e57269)

  155. Damn you, Patterico! Because of you I now pay attention to the radio traffic report. At least one of those reporters says “the 10″ and “the 17″, but I still never encounter any laypersons who say it that way.

    Icy Truth (d9ccad)

  156. Sorry. Still talking about Arizona here.

    Icy Truth (d9ccad)

  157. In Cincinnati, its I-275, I-71, I-471, etc…

    Machiavelli (2d0591)

  158. In Philadelphia, the Schuylkill Expressway is often referred to as the Sure Kill Distressway.

    Then there’s Vine Street, which sounds like a city street but is actually I-676.

    In Pittsburgh they have “The Parkway” – I-376.

    In Harrisburg, taking the “South Bridge” means taking I-83 across the Susquehanna River. There are no signs for the South Bridge.

    DC has the Inner Loop and the Outer Loop, which correspond to taking the beltway clockwise or counter-clockwise.

    You just have to know these things.

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  159. You from Joisey? What eggzit?

    Amphipolis (fdbc48)

  160. I live north of Dallas. The Tollway goes north-south, 190/161/the George Bush goes generally east-west. To get from my house to downtown Cowtown for Spamalot the other night, my wife and I took 35[East] to [SH]121 to 35[West].

    When I attended A&M we took [FM]2818 to the Hall for dancin’ but lit out down Highway 6 to [SH]190 to [I]45 to get home. Using proper north Dallas vernacular I should have called it just 6, but that’s how everyone else referred to it so I did too.

    Joel (76f5f1)

  161. In Virginia, if it’s an Interstate highway, then it’s either I-95 of Interstate 95. Both equally used. If it’s not an Interstate, then it’s Route 50 or Route 211. The word “freeway” is never spoken. California has “frontage roads” too, but we don’t.

    Bill Schumm (3cf5ab)

  162. I lived in LA for most of my life and I always added ‘The” to the interstate names but route 1 or highway 101 I don’t. Go figure.

    Darby Shaw (53ff9d)

  163. In Rhode Island/ Massachusetts it’s just the number. “Take 95 to exit 10…”

    Pablo (99243e)

  164. I live in Northern California now, and up here, freeways are just by the number: “I’m on 101″, “I’m taking 280 to 85 to 17″, etc.

    When I was in college we could reliably use whether or not someone said “101” or “the 101″ to indicate whether they came from northern or southern California.

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  165. Here in New Orleans, it is “the I-10″

    Strangely, in New Jersey where I grew up, we called I-80 “Route 80″. Why? dunno.

    Brian (382fad)

  166. Beaumont & Houston,Tx: Interstates are referred to by letter/number i.e. I-10, I-45, etc., but routes and state highways are referred to only by number i.e. 59, 69, 90 etc.

    Soothsayer (fc38f7)

  167. So Cal, everything is “the” and then number, even highways, such as they are. Our highways are basically the same as the (interstate) freeways, and not like highways you might find in rural parts of the state or other parts of the country.

    The names of the freeways (ie Golden State Freeway) are an anachronism as far as I can tell. The traffic reporters still use the names (and I wish they wouldn’t), but I have NEVER heard anyone younger than 60 refer to a freeway by it’s “name” in the wild.

    The exception to both of these rules is, oddly, PCH. It is never referred to as “The 1″ but rather it’s name, PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), and very occasionally US-1. Even more strangely, in northern California, they rarely refer to it as “PCH”, preferring instead to call it “the Coast Highway” or “Coast Highway”.

    Also, in DC everything was “95” or “I-95″ and I got very strange looks when I used “the” before the freeway numbers.

    I have a theory that we use “the” here to precede the number because the freeways are more of an institution. They are the lifeblood of traveling both short and long distances, and they organize they way our mind thinks about the geography. In other parts of the country, they interstates are mainly used for long distance travel only.

    Nessuno (30a968)

  168. To add to my previous post, it’s also interesting that Southern Californians are much more likely to refer to distances in how long it takes to drive there, rather than miles.

    For example,
    “Q: How far is LAX from you?”
    “A: 25 minutes.”

    I’ve noticed this habit is becoming more common across the country, but it has been this way in California for quite a long time.

    Nessuno (30a968)

  169. I live in Fort Worth, one of the cities that I35 and I30 run through, and that’s pretty much what we call them. Many of these highways also have names, but except for LBJ (I635), we rarely use those.

    Graham (239feb)

  170. Nessuno, we tend to do that here, too. It even goes out to “25 minutes in good traffic”

    aphrael (e0cdc9)

  171. It’s PCH wears off once you get past Port Hueneme.
    Oxnard layers some strawberry picking town grit over Malibu’s glitter and 1 is spit out onto 101 until it reemerges (as a thing of beauty at least) at Morro Bay as Coast Highway or highway 1.
    At that point 1 is the only road you can do more than 25MPH anyway.

    101 was nice in the old days before they added the seawall. Nothing like high tide and a storm surge to shut down traffic for a few days due to sand, seaweed and fish on the road. Kept the carpetbaggers from LA out (LA Go Home was the first graffiti I ever saw)

    SteveG (71dc6f)

  172. #168
    That reminds me of when Californian’s started moving back to Oklahoma. They would call about a property and during questioning they would say “We want to be within 2 hours of the Airport”, which in Oklahoma could have been 100+ miles at that time.
    It seemed to never fail that we’d get in the car, head out on one of our 2 lane (1 lane each direction, no shoulders) highways and after 3 or 4 miles have them ask

    Where the heck are we going


    how much farther?

    ME: Well, its just another 20 miles to the property.
    THEM: Turn around, I don’t want to be in the middle of nowhere. Where would I go to get food or gas or snacks or anything?
    Me: Ummmm….25 miles back to town.
    Them: Forget it. What do you have within 3 miles of town.
    Atleast they learned fairly quickly.

    cstmbuild (6fc537)

  173. I’m from Portland (although I’m currently living in Europe). I usually refer to “I-5″, but I-84 and I-205 are usually just “84” and “205”. I don’t usually precede them with a definite article.

    Tragic Clown Dog (3dd300)

  174. I live in Redwood City, CA Just south of San Francisco and I just refer to the number, 101 or 280 which are main north south routes. I never remember the east west routes. I do refer to highway 1 as highway 1 for some reason, probably having to do with local news stories.

    Paul (87132e)

  175. Around San Francisco, the word the does not precede freeway numbers. So, (generally) Interstate 80, Interstate 280, Highway 101, Highway 24, and so forth.

    Bridges, tunnels, and interesting highway features are invariably preceded by the. So, the Golden Gate Bridge, the Caldecott Tunnel, the Waldo Grade, the Maze, and so forth.

    Back in the day, I also used to hear references to the Nimitz Freeway (Interstate 880) and the MacArthur Freeway (Interstate 580), but not so often recently.

    W. Krebs (ddfd82)

  176. I’m from central Florida and we sometimes say “the” before toll roads (“the 408″ and “the 417″), but not freeways. I think we always say “I” before lower-number interstates (“I-4″ and “I-10″), but I sometimes hear people refer to higher-number interstates with just the number (“95″ and “75”).

    hymnia (11ce51)

  177. In UT, we do it like you described for TX.

    K (c20866)

  178. Here in Western PA we say “I-” whatever the number is. Or at least all the people I know do.

    chaos (9c54c6)

  179. In Baltimore, Maryland it’s “I-95,” “I-695,” and “I-83.”

    I-95 is also the Something Freeway (I’ve no idea what “something” is), I-695 is the Beltway (the Inner & Outer Loops per Amphipolis), I-83 the JFX & the Harrisburg Expy.

    AMac (c822c9)

  180. In Orlando, we say “I-4,” “I-75″ and “I-95″

    On the other hand, we also say “the 408″.

    Pious Agnostic (b2c3ab)

  181. In the Bay Area, we don’t use “the” or “I” but just the number. It’s funny to hear someone use “the 101″ only to be told that “we don’t say that up here.” The north-south rivalry is fierce but completely one-sided. We hate SoCal, LA especially and they’re generally oblivious.

    The names aren’t as commonly used anymore, 880 is the Nimitz, 580 the MacArthur, 101 the Bayshore, 80/580 the Eastshore, 13 the Warren; don’t remember the others. There is one stretch where 580 West and 80 East are the same road which is confusing especially since the road itself it going more north-south.

    Grant (56f05f)

  182. When I use a number to refer to a freeway, I’ll say “the 10,” for instance. But as some comments have pointed out, the freeway name can be more important to pinpointing locations when the route passes through different areas. For me I’ll say “the 10″ when it applies to the more familiar San Gabriel Valley, but when it extends west of Los Angeles, it’s “the Santa Monica Freeway.” And I can’t imagine anyone referring to the Pasadena and Hollywood freeways using the numbers.

    james fulton (56a0a8)

  183. #154 Sean P

    but I do sometimes hear the 210 referred to as the Foothill freeway. Why the 210, 22 and portions of the 10 get this designation and the 91, 5, 405, 55, and 57 do not is a mystery.

    I believe it is because the 210 runs parallel just to the north of Foothill Blvd which is the old route 66 running through San Bernardino-Rialto-Rancho Cucamonga-Upland, while the 10 runs parallel just south of the same Blvd. Foothill jogs north of the 210 about Glendora, hugging the bottom of the foothills and running through the towns of Azusa, Duarte, Monrovia & Sierra Madre.

    Darleen (187edc)

  184. Seattle – no “the”

    Baltimore in the 1970-80’s – almost all the time the highway was referred to by its name not number but when number used – no “the” (though to confuse things a major street was called “The Alameda”)

    seaPea (33a32b)

  185. In Seattle, we have I-5 and I-90, but also 99 (part of the interstate highway system, not a freeway).

    Bleepless (e747cd)

  186. Can confirm Comment #7 re: Denver metro & northern Colo.:

    (Denver metro area residents say “I25″, “I70″, “C470″ and “E470″ but one short section of freeway is alternately “225″ or “I225″.

    Comment by SPQR — 6/25/2008 @ 7:27 pm )

    ColoComment (c493f1)

  187. Here in MA we use the numbers — one twenty eight (128), ninety-five (95)[both interstates], one fourteen (114) [not an interstate, which also has a street name] but its also Route One, and sometimes I hear I-95 (this is because 128 and 95 share an expanse.)

    John Costello (8ac19e)

  188. In Louisville, we don’t use the “the” with numbers, but we do refer to some by their names: the Waterson, the Gene Snyder. (2ec069)

  189. To amplify the Oklahoma City descriptions:

    I-44 is I-44 so long as it’s a free road. When it becomes a toll road, as it does at opposite ends of the city, it’s known by a turnpike name (Turner or H. E. Bailey).

    I-35 and I-40 (and I-235 and I-240) are just that.

    Everything else has a name: US 77 beyond I-235 is the Broadway Extension, and OK 74 is the Lake Hefner Parkway. OK 66, however, is Old Route 66. Mostly.

    And these days, Northwest Highway and Northwest Expressway are one and the same – and neither of them is Northwest 39th Expressway, which is Old Route 66 leaving town on the west side.

    CGHill (dc91bd)

  190. My experience is with the L.A. freeway system. I agree that 405, 605, 10, and 60 take “the.” On the other hand, I-5 doesn’t. I’ve always heard it referred to as I-5 or Interstate 5, never 5 or “the” 5. So it’s inconsistent. (And, although I lived in Orange County for several years, I never heard anybody say “the O.C.”)

    Greg Shannon (95626c)

  191. born and raised in So Cal,it’s “the 10″”! recently escaped to Idaho where there are no freeways.Heh

    rlhosier (d38905)

  192. Agree with Ira #80: In New York City’s uburbs we never referred to “the 478″ or “the 278″; it was always “the L.I.E.”, “the Grand Central” or “the Major Deegan” if not “the Willyburger” (route via the Williamsburg Bridge”.

    Gary M (4c66c3)

  193. Here in ohio it is always “eye” I-75, I-475, I-80

    DavidS (d340fd)

  194. here in MO we say I-70 and I-44…just the number is for state highways like “22” or “63”

    and we don’t call them freeways except for my wife but she is from CA ;p

    Dan (df3c4e)

  195. In Phoenix:

    I-10 is the Papago Freeway and the Maricopa Freeway

    I-17 is the Black Canyon Highway

    The 51 is the Squaw Peak Freeway

    slp (61ea28)

  196. As an Oregonian of many years, Steven Den Beste got part of it right, and part wrong. He’s right that we normally call major freeways by their number with “aye or eye” preceding, ie I-5, I-84. Most people refer to the auxiliary freeways by their numbers only, ie 205 (for I-205), 405 (for I-405). Other highways can be referred to by either names or numbers, ie 217 (for Oregon 217, or the Sunset (for U.S. 26 west of Portland. East of Portland it is called the Mt. Hood Highway or simply 26), the Wilson or Wilson River (for Oregon 6). He was wrong in calling U.S. 30 the Sunset highway. Its proper name is the Columbia River Highway and it is referred to by either its name or number with no “the” or “U.S” preceding the number. Originally I-5 was called the Baldock Freeway and I-84 (originally I-80N or 80 North) the Banfield. You still hear Banfield Freeway quite often, but more rarely Baldock Freeway. In short, the whole thing is a mess and it is a wonder that anyone can manage to get where they are going from directions. Unless you are a native of the area, directions from Portland to take the Baldock, then go over the Santiam would mean nothing. A native of the area would know it meant go south on I-5 to Salem, then take Oregon 22 over the Santiam pass.

    I wonder why it is that people try to make things more difficult than they need be. If everyone would simply refer to highways by their numbers it would make it much easier for a stranger to get around or follow traffic reports. I remember how confusing it was–when I was first hauling freight in California–to remember what freeway was the Nimitz, or the Golden State, or a number of other such as the Riverside.

    Fritz (13ab3e)

  197. Northern Virginia here – as has been stated above, nobody uses “the” unless its to reference “the Beltway” or “the Parkway” or that Mongolian Clusterfuck known as “the Springfield Interchange”. The looks of horror on newcomers faces as you attempt to explain “Inner Loop vs. Outer Loop” is always amusing. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to pull out the Rand McNally atlas, open it up, and say “Now imagine a big-ass clock…”

    JCLjockey (2f96b3)

  198. Here in Indianapolis, we say either “70” or “I-70″ for interstates; “31” or “US 31″ for highways and the like. I’m trying to convert everyone here to the SoCal way of doing things, so I now say “the 70.”

    Next, we just need Carl’s Jr. and In-n0Out Burger.

    Pro Cynic (28710a)

  199. I live in New Hampshire. Here it’s “93” or “95” or “495.” The news will use “I-93″, but most local folks just use the number.

    Scoop11 (58ca0a)

  200. I grew up in the SFO bay area and I can’t remember ever referring to a freeway with “the.” I left the area in 1984, so things could have changed since then. I’m vaguely trying to remember traffic reports and I distinctly remember hearing “the bayshore,” but not “the 101″ or “the 80.” Like the Bayshore freeway, various interchanges were prepended with “the,” but not the actual road.

    Barney15e (7f9027)

  201. OK, I punished myself by reading through all 200 posts on this, and I’ve come to a conclusion. People who use “the” to denominate their highways or who use the named versions have a more than usual affection for or pride in their roads. They may hate ’em, but it’s a proud hate.

    I visited Anaheim recently for a conference. When I returned my expatriot-Californian neighbor asked me, with a curious brightness in her eye, “Did you take the 405?” She seemed to have fond memories of “the 405″ and how awful the traffic was, and seemed vaguely disappointed that I had not found it any busier than the roads around Detroit.

    It’s just a road, people! You can’t create some kind of Route 66 mythology out of everything!

    If the perpetual promises of flying cars ever come true, California will have museum exhibits recalling the good old days of sitting in traffic on The Four Oh Five, listening to Rush Limbaugh and engaging in road rage.

    Don (07e043)

  202. I-87 between Albany NY and the Canadian border is called the Northway or 87 by most locals.

    Gbear (58b08c)

  203. I hadnt thought abought it, but since you ask, I say the 5, or the 405 etc. Of course, I live in LA county.

    Bar Sinister (6ef162)

  204. I live in Atlanta.

    We use “I” or “Interstate”. For a state highway, limited access, it’s called “GA 400″ or “GA 316″. For a US highway, regular 4 lane road, it’s called “Highway 41″ or “Highway 9″.

    Where interstates 75/85 intersect in downtown Atlanta, it’s called the “downtown connector” or just “the connector”.

    Wow! What a mess!

    ozemc (642af3)

  205. In SE Michigan we say 23, 75, 94, 96 and 696. Sometimes I-75, I-94 or I-96, but rarely US-23 or I-696. Too many syllables, perhaps, with the latter two. Although there is inconsistency when referring to named roads, e.g., “Reuther Freeway”(I-696) vs. “the Lodge” (M-10) and “the Jeffries” (I-96).

    Kasubo (513741)

  206. In Southern Ontario especially including Toronto, we use the “the” as in “take the 401/427/403″ and the same for named highways like “the QEW” (for the Queen Elizabeth Way).

    andycanuck (3f2e1f)

  207. Here in southwest Ohio, we usually refer to the normal interstates by number; hence 75, 74, and so on. The circle freeway around the Greater Cincinnati area (which also extends into southeast Indiana and northern Kentucky) is frequently just called 275, instead of I-275.

    I think we hear “I-xx” mostly on traffic or news reports.

    No “the” references that I’ve ever heard.

    Casey (9ee427)

  208. It’s the 10 or the San Bernardino or Santa Monica Freeway. The traffic reporters will call it by name more than the general populace.

    It’s the Marina Freeway. I’ve never heard anybody call it the 90 or the 90 Freeway.

    It’s the 91 Freeway. Sometimes reporters will append “Riverside” or “Artesia” (sometimes even an old school “Redondo Beach”, but never a “Gardena”) somewhere in there, but they always use 91. Same with the Garden Grove Freeway. With the 55, you’ll hear even fewer references to the Costa Mesa Freeway.

    The Harbor Freeway seems to get the most name time. You are most likely to hear just the name on this freeway rather than the number. Pasadena’s a short second. Pomona and Hollywood are long thirds.

    It’s the 15. Rarely does anyone add “freeway” and nobody uses the various names assigned to it. Same with the 215.

    jrd (b1566c)

  209. Now that I think of it, I cannot think of ever hearing “the PCH”, only “PCH”.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  210. Oh, and can anyone explain what the heck is wrong with rosenblatt?

    SPQR (26be8b)

  211. The “I” prefix extends at least from Florida through eastern Texas, as well as up the east coast to D.C. (we travel I-10 back and forth to Florida and have travelled I-95 many a-time, not to mention many of the interior interstate routes). Calling I-10 “the 10″ just sounds so, well, Californian. Not unhappy to say that I no longer live there!

    Chris (c9c2a3)

  212. I lived in San Jose (Northern Calif) where we just say the number (going on 101). Now I live in LA and we say going on THE 101. Weird!!

    Evelyn (f9fac8)

  213. Syracuse NY: 81 or 690 or 481….no ‘the’….except for The ( N.Y. State ) Thruway…

    S.E Ontario : 401…no ‘the’..


    Paul (5382f5)

  214. In Rochester, NY, it’s the number, with no ‘the’ — we have 390, 490, 590, 104 and 531.

    I-90 is referred to as the Thruway, but as it’s tolled in this area, it’s technically not a freeway.

    — Pauley

    Pauley (63086d)

  215. I was raised in LA and it’s “the 405,” “the 101″ and so on. 2 years in NoCal and even the constant negative comments I would get about my use of “the” didn’t change that fact. One time a partner at the firm I worked at up there told me with disdain “You wouldn’t say take THE Lombard Street, would you?” I said “no, but I do take THE Golden Gate Bridge, which is just a portion of THE 101.”

    The moral of the story? Who cares how you say it. They all work.

    TLove (4a03a6)

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