Wikipedia:WikiProject U.S. Roads/Newsletter/Issues/Volume05/Issue02

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The WikiProject U.S. Roads Newsletter
Volume 5, Issue 2 • Spring 2012 • About the Newsletter


Frühlingslandschft Aaretal Schweiz.jpg
Spring has sprung in most of the United States, and that means roadgeeks are planning summer road trips. Around USRD, editors have been planning and implementing a new initiative related to to Keyhole Markup Language, or KML. In this issue, we cover this new-to-USRD technology and how it applies to our articles. A friend of the project from north of the border offers a primer on how to add KML files to our articles. Of course you'll find your quarterly news and updates in the issue as well.

As a reminder, if you have not done so already, please add your name to the Participants List for the project. As we noted in the last issue, the project did a roll call, and project members have to add their names to the list.

Featured story

Paving a path forward with KML

Editor: Imzadi1979
Screenshot of WikiMiniAtlas showing a KML overlay

As several project members may be aware, there have been many spirited discussions regarding the use of coordinates in highway articles because of the linear nature of the subject. An RfC earlier this year failed to reach a consensus on most points, except that the use of geographic shapefiles in articles would be a benefit to the project. Since then, {{Attached KML}} was developed, which links a KML file to an article. KML, which is used by Google Earth among other applications, is a markup language for geographic information. For USRD purposes, a KML file can draw a line on a map that follows the course of a highway's routing from end to end. These KML files can be created using GIS software and frameworks, or in Google Earth by tracing the roadway. Once added to the article, the KML template can generate a pair of links in the upper right-hand corner with the WikiMiniAtlas (WMA) globe, such as on the M-553 article. More advanced options can be added, like different colors and multiple line segments as seen in the Capitol Loop or Interstate 375 articles. WMA currently overrides the line color to its default shade of blue, but when viewed in Google Maps or Bing Maps through the external links, the colors are used. The Map Department tutorial contains instructions on how to create and add KML files to articles.

On April 27, the {{U.S. Roads WikiProject}} banner was updated to track KML usage in articles. The tracking is similar to how maps are tracked. On the talk page, an editor adds |needs-kml= with one of three values: "yes" if the article needs a KML file, "no" if it has one, and "na" if a KML isn't applicable to the subject. Each state and project topic area has a tracking category for articles without KML files at Category:U.S. road articles needing KML. Just like the |needs-map= parameter, the banner will generate an error message if a value is not set for the KML parameter. Certain types of articles covered by our project, like legal cases and legislation, tunnels, interchanges and junctions, or government agencies like the state departments of transportation should not typically have KML files created. Interchanges should have point coordinates added using {{coord}}, and government agencies would have the coordinates of the headquarters building used. Articles that do not need a KML file should have the banner set to "na" as a result.

Some reviewers at WP:GAN have requested the addition of a KML before listing an article as a GA, and at least one WP:FAC from WP:CRWP resulted in requests for the shapefile links in the article. A new rule will require KMLs in articles being evaluated at A-Class Review starting on May 1, 2012.

Down and dirty with KML

Editor: Floydian
The icon used for KML in the talk page banner

As mentioned in the previous article, KML has emerged as perhaps one of the most versatile and accurate methods we have for sharing the layout of a road with users. The concept behind all of this is known as Geographic Information Systems, or GIS for short, and is a way of representing information spatially (i.e. projected onto a 3D model of the globe). The U.S. Road Maps Task Force has utilized GIS to create the maps that adorn many of the articles in the project. Some of the advantages to KML are:

  1. It is a markup language, like HTML, that can be easily interpreted and manipulated in a text editor
  2. It can be viewed online using Google Maps and Bing
  3. The GIS software that creates SVG files can also create KML files (including qGIS and ArcGIS)
  4. It can be created using Google Earth (and viewed using WhirlWind's standard installation)
  5. Multiple line segments can be created with various colours representing:
    1. Former or abandoned alignments
    2. Alternate/Business routes
    3. One way splits
  6. Each segment can be given a label and a description, which can include links and details

And that brings us to the main part of this article. KML files can be created by any editor, and in many cases using available data from state and provincial resources. For those who are familiar with making maps using QGIS or ArcGIS, layers can be exported to KML using steps similar to creating an SVG file. To the uninitiated however, fire up your copy of Google Earth and zoom in on a highway.

What you will be doing is "tracing" the highway. When you create a new line segment, you begin by placing a first point (ideally at the south or west terminus), then follow the centerline of the highway by left-clicking along it. Use your discretion - the line doesn't need to stay on the yellow centerline at all times, but it shouldn't stray into the forest and be confused for an old routing. As flat satellite imagery does not line up on a three dimensional surface, you will often be required to find a point in the middle.

On the left is a set of panels: Search, Places, and Layers. You may find it convenient to turn off all layers except Borders and Places. In the Places panel, right click and add a new path. The New Path dialog box appears, allowing you to enter a name for the line and a description, both of which will appear to the reader, in addition to modifying the colour and thickness. Drag this dialog box aside (it must remain open while you create your line, and you must press OK when you are done to save your data). Click on the map to place your first point. Once the map has focus, you can use your keyboard to scroll and zoom. Continue placing points until you can place no more, then press OK in the New Path dialog box. The line can now be exported by right-clicking it (on the map or in the Places panel) and selecting Save Place As; be sure to switch the default .KMZ to .KML. To share several segments together, create a folder, drag the segment into it and save it instead of the segments.

This only covers the very basics. By studying the in-depth guides available from Google, you can learn to merge segments, reuse portions of segments for a reverse concurrency (sortmylist.com can reverse a list of space-separated coordinates), and cleanup the code output by Google Earth, which includes links to several of their proprietary icons.

SPSs in need of removal from articles

Editor: Dough4872
Nuvola apps kdict.svg

On the web, there are many sites created by roadgeeks that are devoted to covering roads, such as Jeff Kitsko's Pennsylvania Highways, Chris Bessert's Michigan Highways, and AARoads. Some of these sites are used as sources in road articles on Wikipedia. These sites are often considered reliable as the webmaster typically bases the information on accurate sources such as maps, route logs, and newspaper articles. However, according to WP:SPS, "Anyone can create a personal web page or pay to have a book published, and then claim to be an expert in a certain field. For that reason, self-published media, such as books, patents, newsletters, personal websites, open wikis, personal or group blogs, Internet forum postings, and tweets, are largely not acceptable as sources." Therefore, roadgeek sites are not considered "reliable sources" by Wikipedia policy. That doesn't mean the websites are bad, just that the community's guidelines prefer other sources of information for our articles. If these sites are used as references in an article, they should be replaced with a different source. Reliable sources for a road article typically include road maps past and present, official route logs, and newspaper articles. While roadgeek sites should not be used as sources in an article, they are more than welcome to be included in the external links section.

Maple Syrup Report

Driving around north of the border
Editor: Floydian
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Over the last several years I have been on the sidelines of U.S. Roads working in Ontario under the Canadian Road Wikiproject, improving a confusing maze of terrible articles to something more legible. However, I have been actively invovled in many of the recent changes that affect the project, including the colo(u)rs of the infobox overhaul, portions of the new template system for exit lists and most recently, the {{Attached KML}} template.

However, as much work as I have put in, Canada is in a terrible state (no pun intended). Over 70% of the road articles are stubs. I am hoping to reach out to editors – especially those interested in bordering states – to assist in working on Canadian highways that connect to the border. Although most are created, very few are expanded beyond a stub. Resources are available or easy to acquire, so I hope to see some interested editors stepping foot into the great north!

State and national updates

Assessment roundup

Contributor: Pzoxicuvybtnrm

Since the last newsletter, much improvement was made of the project's articles. This is a list of the top ten states by average WikiWork as of the April 27, 2012 update:

Rank State Featured article FA A-Class article A GA B C Start Stub ω Ω
1 Michigan 10 4 128 51 24 0 0 509 2.346
2 Delaware 1 0 14 40 8 0 0 180 2.857
3 New York 12 2 153 229 215 78 1 2251 3.262
4 New Jersey 1 2 100 49 24 85 0 870 3.333
5 Maryland 4 1 44 270 72 84 0 1607 3.383
6 Utah 4 2 13 63 124 19 2 820 3.612
7 Arizona 1 0 12 17 46 21 0 364 3.753
8 Iowa 1 0 9 12 94 15 0 504 3.855
9 Washington 0 3 37 42 53 50 27 827 3.901
10 Minnesota 0 0 3 6 197 13 0 877 4.005

This spring, New York and New Jersey swapped places to ranks 3 and 4, respectively. Arizona and Washington switched places and fell into ranks 7 and 9. For updated statistics daily, check out WP:USRD/A/S.

Taking a look at the project as a whole:

Project Featured article FA A-Class article A GA B C Start Stub ω Ω
USRD 40 21 633 1069 2371 3978 2427 48430 4.595
IH 8 4 41 39 210 230 25 2343 4.206
USH 9 2 38 47 167 281 41 2538 4.338
Auto trails 7 0 3 1 8 28 9 235 4.196

Since the last newsletter, the project gained two A-class articles and 33 good articles.

Project news

Task force reports

California

California has gained another A-Class article, California State Route 57, and another GA, California State Route 244.—Rschen7754

Delaware

Since the last newsletter, Delaware's relative WikiWork has fallen below 3.000 to 2.857 as of April 19. This reduction was accomplished through the promotion of several GAs. In additon, {{Delaware road map}} was created as a template to automatically generate references for historic Delaware road maps.—Dough4872

Michigan

The state has gained a handful of new articles, all but one of which have been listed as Good Articles. County Road 595 (Marquette County, Michigan) is a somewhat controversial, proposed, primary county road in Western Marquette County which has a Future-Class article. In ACR-related news for the state, M-553 (Michigan highway) and U.S. Route 23 in Michigan have been promoted to A-Class, and H-58 (Michigan county highway) is up for review.—Imzadi1979

Selected articles

January
Pineda Causeway from US 1

State Road 404 (SR 404), the Pineda Causeway, is an east–west divided highway currently running from Interstate 95 (I-95) to SR A1A at Patrick Air Force Base, Florida. It was opened as a toll road in 1971 and classified as a state road two years later. The tolls were removed in 1990. It was named after Pineda, a former village east of Suntree on U.S. Route 1 (US 1). With interchanges at US 1 (SR 5), South Tropical Trail (Brevard County Road 3, CR 3), and South Patrick Drive (SR 513), the Pineda Causeway is (along with SR A1A) the primary access for Patrick Air Force Base and the southern end of Merritt Island. From US 1 to the eastern terminus, it is part of the Indian River Lagoon Scenic Highway system. (more...)

Selected pictures

January
Salt Creek Tunnel.jpg
Bikers using the Salt Creek Tunnel along Oregon Route 58 activate a signal to let drivers be aware of their presence in the tunnel.
February
The High Five under construction

The High Five Interchange is the first five-level stack interchange built in Dallas, Texas. Located at the junction of the Lyndon B. Johnson Freeway (Interstate 635, I-635) and the Central Expressway (US Highway 75, US 75), it replaces an antiquated partial cloverleaf interchange constructed in the 1960s. The $261 million project was initiated in 2002 and completed in December 2005. It was designed by the HNTB Corporation and built by Zachry Construction Corporation. The interchange is considered by Popular Mechanics to be one of "The World's 18 Strangest Roadways" because of its height, its 37 permanent bridges and other unusual design and construction features. In 2006, the American Public Works Association named the High Five Interchange as "Public Works Projects of the Year." (more...)

February
Creek Road at Snuff Mill Road.jpg
Delaware Route 82 at Snuff Mill Road in Yorklyn
March
Interchange with I-29 looking toward the Mormon Bridge from Council Bluffs on June 16, 2011 during the 2011 Missouri River floods

Interstate 680 (I-680) in Nebraska and Iowa is the northern bypass of the Omaha, Nebraska – Council Bluffs, Iowa, metropolitan area. I-680 spans 42.86 miles (68.98 km) from its western end in western Omaha to its eastern end near Neola, Iowa. For a 10-mile (16 km) stretch, I-680 is co-signed with I-29. The freeway passes through a diverse range of scenes and terrains – the urban setting of Omaha, the Missouri River and its valley, the rugged Loess Hills, and the farmland of Pottawattamie County, Iowa. Until 1973, the section in Iowa between the current eastern end and I-29 was designated as I-80N. I-680 in Omaha was originally designated I-280. Maps from the early and mid-1960s showed I-280 in Omaha. Since this highway would extend into Iowa, and I-280 was already planned for the Quad Cities area, this route was redesignated I-680. (more...)

March
I-40 Crosstown before opening.jpg
A new segment of Interstate 40 in Oklahoma immediately prior to opening. The eastbound lanes were opened to traffic on January 5, 2012.

From the editors

The next quarterly issue should be out in July. The editors of the newsletter would like to hear from you, the reader. What do you like about the current format? What should be changed? Removed? Added? Your comments are needed.

Lastly, remember that this is your newsletter and you can be involved in the creation of the next issue released in the summer. Any and all contributions are welcome. Simply let yourself be known to any of the undersigned, or just start editing!

Contributors to this issue

Issue 1 | Issue 2 | Issue 3