A concurrency in a road network is an instance of one physical road bearing two or more different highway, motorway, or other route numbers. When two freeways share the same right-of-way, it is sometimes called a common section or commons. Other terminology for a concurrency includes overlap, coincidence, duplex (two concurrent routes), triplex (three concurrent routes) and multiplex (any number of concurrent routes).
Concurrent numbering can become very common in countries that allow it. Where multiple routes must pass through a single mountain crossing, or through a major city, it is often economically and practically advantageous for them all to be accommodated on a single physical road. In some countries, however, concurrent numbering is avoided by posting only one route number on road signs; these routes disappear at the start of the concurrency and reappear when it ends. Criticism of concurrencies include environmental intrusion, as well as being considered a factor in road accidents.
Most concurrencies are simply a combination of two route numbers on the same physical road. This is often practically advantageous as well as economically advantageous; it may be better for two route numbers to be combined into one along riverways or through mountain valleys. Some nations allow for concurrencies to occur, however some nations specifically do not allow it to happen. In those nations which do permit concurrencies, it can become very common. In these countries, there are a variety of concurrences which can occur.
An example of this is the concurrency of I-70 and I-76 on the Pennsylvania Turnpike in western Pennsylvania. Interstate 70 merges with the Pennsylvania Turnpike so the route number can ultimately continue east into Maryland; instead of having a second physical highway built to carry the route, it is combined with the Pennsylvania Turnpike and the Interstate 76 designation. A triple Interstate concurrency is found north of Madison, Wisconsin, with I-39, I-90, and I-94. Wisconsin will have another triple Interstate concurrency once the conversion of US 41 to an Interstate is complete; it will exist along the eight-mile (13 km) section of I-41, I-43, and I-894 in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
There is an example of an eight-way concurrency: I-465 around Indianapolis and Georgia State Route 10 Loop around downtown Athens, Georgia. Portions of the 53-mile (85 km) I-465 overlap with I-74, US 31, US 36, US 40, US 52, US 421, SR 37 and SR 67—a total of eight other routes. Seven of the eight other designations overlap between exits 46 and 47 to create an eight-way concurrency.
In the United States, concurrencies are simply marked by placing signs for both routes on the same or adjacent posts. The federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices prescribes that when mounting these adjacent signs together that the numbers will be arranged vertically or horizontally in order of precedence. The order to be used is Interstate Highways, U.S. Highways, state highways, and finally county roads, and within each class by increasing numerical value.
Several states do not officially have any concurrencies, instead officially ending routes on each side of one.[a] There are several circumstances where unusual concurrencies exist along state borders. One example occurs along the Oklahoma–Arkansas state line. At the northern end of this border Oklahoma State Highway 20 runs concurrently with Arkansas Highway 43 and the two roads run north–south along the boundary.
Concurrencies are also found in Canada. In Manitoba, the Trans-Canada Highway from Winnipeg to Portage La Prairie is concurrently signed with Yellowhead Highway. In Ontario, the Queen Elizabeth Way and Highway 403 run concurrently between Burlington and Oakville, forming the province's only concurrency between two 400-series highways.
Europe and the Middle East
In the United Kingdom, major through routes do not run concurrently with others.
In Sweden and Denmark, the most important highways use only the European route numbers, which have cardinal directions. In Sweden the E6 and E20 go concurrent for 280 kilometres (170 mi). In Denmark the E47 and E55 go concurrent for 157 kilometres (98 mi). There are more shorter concurrencies. There are two stretches in Sweden and Denmark where three European routes go concurrent. These are E6, E20 and E22 in Sweden, and E20, E47 and E55 in Denmark. Along all these concurrencies, all route numbers are signposted.
In Israel, two freeways, the Trans-Israel Highway (Highway 6), and Highway 1 run concurrently just east of Ben Shemen Interchange. The concurrency is officially designated "Daniel Interchange", providing half of the possible interchange directions. It is a 1-mile (1.6 km) segment consisting of eight lanes providing high-speed access between the two highways. Access from Highway 1 west to Highway 6 south and Highway 6 north to Highway 1 east is provided via Route 431, while access between Highway 1 east to Highway 6 north and Highway 6 south to Highway 1 west are provided at Ben Shemen Interchange. The other movements are provided through the concurrency.
As highways in the United States and Canada are usually signed with assigned cardinal direction based on primary orientation, it is possible for a stretch of roadway shared between two highways to be signed with opposite, conflicting cardinal directions. Wrong-way concurrency refers to this situation. The road itself is likely to be actually pointed in a third direction. For example, near Wytheville, Virginia, there is a concurrency between I-77 (which runs primarily north–south, as it is signed) and Interstate 81 (which runs primarily northeast-southwest but is also signed north-south). The road itself is oriented east-west and carries the two Interstates signed in opposite directions. So one might simultaneously be on I-77 north and I-81 south, while actually traveling due west.
An unusual example of a three-directional concurrency occurs near the town of Starks, Illinois. To take advantage of an underpass beneath a railroad, US Route 20, Illinois Route 72 and Illinois Route 47 all converge. The net result is that a driver can be traveling east on US 20, west on IL 72, and south on IL 47 (the actual compass direction) all at the same time.
Effect on exit numbers
Often when two routes with exit numbers overlap, one of the routes has its exit numbers dominate over the other and can sometimes result in having two exits of the same number, albeit far from each other along the same highway (although in one case the number 96 is only six miles apart). An example of this is from the concurrency of I-94 and US 127 near Jackson, Michigan. The concurrent section of freeway has an exit with M-106, which is numbered Exit 139 using I-94's mileage-based numbers. US 127 also has another Exit 139 with the southern end of the US 127 business loop in Mount Pleasant, Michigan.
However, there are also instances where the dominant exit number range is far more than the secondary route's highest exit number, for example the concurrency of I-75 and I-85 in Atlanta, Georgia—where I-75 is dominant—the exit numbers range from 242 to 251 while I-85's highest mile marker in Georgia is 179.
Some brief concurrencies in the past have been eliminated by reassigning the designations along the roadways. This can involve scaling back the terminus of one designation to the end of a concurrent section. At the same time, there could be an extension of another highway designation that is used to replace the newly shortened designation with another one.
Between states, US 27 in Michigan previously ran concurrently with I-69 from the Michigan–Indiana state line to the Lansing, Michigan, area. From there it turned northwards to its terminus at Grayling. In 1999, the Michigan and Indiana departments of transportation petitioned the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials for permission to truncate US 27 at Fort Wayne, Indiana. In 2002, Michigan removed the US 27 designation from I-69 and extended the US 127 designation from Lansing to Grayling. MDOT's stated reason for the modification was to "reduce confusion along the US 27/US 127 corridor". After US 27's signage was removed, the highway north of the Lansing area was renumbered US 127, and the US 27 designation was removed from I-69.
Some consolidation schemes involve the use of incorporating two single-digit numbers onto one marker, as along the U.S. Route 1/9 concurrency in northern New Jersey. In the mid-20th century, California had numerous concurrencies, but the California Legislature removed most of them in a comprehensive reform of highway numbering in 1964.
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