Wikipedia:WikiProject U.S. Roads/Newsletter/Issues/Volume08/Issue03

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The Center Line
Volume 8, Issue 3 • Summer 2015 • About the Newsletter


Summer is starting to wind to an end here in the northern hemisphere. In this issue, you'll find the usual assortment of updates from USRD editors. We continue this year's series of tutorials for writing parts of good highway articles, this time focusing more on the History section of our articles. We have an interview this quarter with a pair of photographers as well. Later in September, USRD will celebrate its 10th anniversary, so watch your mailboxes for something special. ❖Imzadi1979

Ohio byway marker
Featured story

Road to the past: Some tips on researching history sections

Library sign
Contributor: Imzadi1979

Of the big three sections in a good highway article, the hardest to write is usually the history section. The route description and junction/exit list table can each be compiled and written off readily accessible modern maps. In contrast, the history section will normally require a trip or trips to a library or access to online databases. As part of our on-going series of tutorials this year, we would like to present some insights into dealing with the historical research needed to write highway articles.

To start, a word of caution is in order. There are a number of great roadgeek websites on the Internet that document the histories of our state highways, like http://www.michiganhighways.org. These are great resources to give a writer a starting point on his quest to writing a history section. However, most of them cannot be used as a source in a Wikipedia article under the reliable source guidelines.[1] That just means we need to find sources to verify or expand upon the information given on those sites, and then we can cite those sources in our footnotes. Some of these websites even list their references, allowing us to track down the original sources used. We can then link to the roadgeek site at the bottom of the article to give readers another place to look for information after they read our article.

Many libraries offer excellent resources we can exploit. The Peter White Public Library in Marquette, Michigan, or the Van Pelt and Opie Library at Michigan Technological University in Houghton for example, maintain vertical files on the area's roads. These files contain newspaper clippings and other documents organized by topic area. Others, like the Grand Rapids Public Library, maintain card file indexes to newspaper articles they have on microfilm. Both of these are great resources to find old newspaper articles, but there are others online. Through the Wikipedia Library, editors can sign up for accounts with different databases, including Newspapers.com. Google News also has searchable archives of old newspapers that can be used to locate sources.

It may take several searches with various combinations of keywords or dates to isolate useful sources. These databases will also find plenty of articles on traffic accidents that make finding the most useful sources a bit harder. If an editor has a timeline of historical events from a roadgeek site, she can use that to narrow down newspaper searches by using the location(s) and dates as keywords in addition to the highway designation. Other useful keywords include the name of the DOT, or the name the agency used at the time. Searchers should also try variations on the highway's designation, especially in the case of US or state highways.

When working on researching the Interstates or US Highways, we have a collection of AASHTO's committee minutes that are indexed at WP:USRD/AASHTO. The various newspaper archives online can also be valuable because they may have indexed papers in other areas that ran Associated Press or United Press International wire stories. The Traverse City Record-Eagle has run wire stories on I-75 even though the city is nowhere near that freeway, for instance.

For more recent changes during the modern Internet era, many DOTs have archives of their press releases. It may be necessary to search an older edition of the DOT's website through an archiving service like http://www.archive.org/ to pull up some of the oldest press releases published online. Older press releases that predate the modern Internet era may be archived in major libraries in the state capital or at a state university.

Another option is to look for internal DOT documentation online or at a DOT's library. MDOT maintains a set of right-of-way maps online for each county, with separate sheets that break down highways into smaller segments. These map sheets can contain notations such as the transfer date of the Capitol Loop in Lansing. Mn/DOT has a set of maintenance logs online for their state highways that would list reconstruction projects such as realignments or extensions. TxDOT documents every alignment change since 1939 in their Highway Designation Files, and other states have similar documentation.

Barring that, the tried and true standby option for historical research on highways are the various archives of old official state maps. The Library of Michigan has most of Michigan's official state maps archived, and if they lack a copy of a specific edition, MDOT's library is just a couple blocks away. I have also visited WisDOT's library in Madison, Wisconsin, for research on the U.S. Route 8 and U.S. Route 141 articles. More and more, state DOTs are putting their old maps online as well, sometimes in collaboration with a statewide library, as in the case of Minnesota. Other map series can be used, but it is best if the same publisher is used to eliminate errors related to the frequency of updates.

By comparing the maps before and after changes to a highway's routing, we can at least narrow down that change to a range of time. When we write about these events in the articles, we would need to give an approximate timeframe instead of an exact date. In this case, at least two footnotes will be necessary at the end of the cited passage, one to the before map, and one to the after.

  1. ^ We are not saying that the sites are unreliable, just that they lack specific attributes that are required for any source we use. Specifically, they are self-published, and there is no one acting as a separate editor in the traditional sense to oversee and vet the content being published or issue retractions or corrections as necessary.

Getting to know the editors behind the lenses

Viewing area sign
Interviewer: Fredddie

This issue, we interview a pair of photographers who have contributed roads photos, SounderBruce and Royalboil.

  1. How do you set up your shot? Location? Lighting? Angle?
    • SounderBruce: For each shot I take, there's a good half-hour of research. Looking at the location in Google Street View, adding it to my backlog of places to photograph, finding good transit access, then making an itinerary the night before an all-day trip.
    • Royalbroil: I almost always DON'T plan a shot. If I see something interesting that I haven't done before then I take the photo—usually as the passenger out the windshield (which I meticulously keep clean). I travel love doing day trips (sometimes overnight) so I photograph what happens to be on my route. I go on longer trips out-of-state on rare occasions and will see what's previously done before I start uploading. Most of my roads photographs are a highway running through downtown or a terminus.
  2. What's in your camera bag?
  3. What is the most difficult shot you've taken?
    • SB: By far the most difficult pictures I've taken are from my leisurely walk on the shoulder of the Homer M. Hadley Memorial Bridge (Flickr album here) from Seattle to Mercer Island. Constantly looking over my shoulder for cyclists, having to contend with wind–both natural and from cars whizzing by at 60 miles per hour (97 km/h), and being a little anxious at only being protected via a line of jersey barriers. This all came about because I was too lazy to backtrack from the top of Mount Baker Ridge, which would've required ascending and descending the entire hill, in order to board a bus across the bridge.
    • RB: No difficult shot stands out. My difficulty is finding time to upload all that I have photographed. I still haven't uploaded photographs from the incredibly beautiful Canadian Rockies taken August 2013. I also need to check what I want to upload taken in eastern Ontario / upstate NY / VT / NH / ME from August 2014.
  4. What road have you photographed the most?
    • SB: Interstate 5. No doubt about it. From overpasses, from the passenger seat, even out a train window and from above in a Cessna.
    • RB: I don't concentrate on photographing any particular highway since too many photographs would overload the article. I see little value in making a large pool of photographs on a topic in a Commons category when few people will ever take the time to find it away from the Wikipedias.
  5. What is your favorite picture you've taken that's used in an article? Least favorite?
  6. What is your favorite unplanned shot?
    • SB: While riding the RapidRide B Line to photograph a couple State Route 520 overpasses near the Microsoft campus, I saw this fantastic view of the "twin" skylines of Bellevue and Seattle as the bus pulled into one of its stops. I quickly hopped off, snapped some pictures and hopped back on, but was delayed by rush hour traffic and had to skip the Redmond shots. I think that the pictures I got, even if they weren't in the best of lighting conditions, were worth forgoing a few suburban overpass shots (that I still haven't come around to doing).
    • RB: Most of my shots are unplanned.
  7. Do you regret not taking a photo of something?
    • SB: I never mustered up the courage to trespass onto the R.H. Thomson Expressway ghost ramps, which are now in the process of being demolished. Luckily, there's a few good pictures of them, mostly taken from the water, uploaded with free licenses to illustrate the article on the expressway that I will eventually write.
    • RB: I wish I had photographed Gotham, Wisconsin, when I drove through it several years ago. If only the CDP was half as interesting as its name!
  8. What do you look forward to photographing?
    • SB: There's two major projects in Seattle that are set to be completed next year: the new SR 520 Bridge (and the demolition of the old one) and the University Link light rail extension. I'm also looking into expanding out a bit to cover the entire Pacific Northwest region (including Portland, Vancouver and Spokane), either by train/bus or driving out into the countryside.
    • RB: I have no specific images on my to do list.
  9. Do you edit your photos? What software?
    • SB: I use Windows Photo Gallery to minor tweaks (straightening, brightness, some color correction), but I would like to learn how to use more advanced software like Photoshop.
    • RB: I edit photographs with gIMP. I can do cropping and rotating but not much more. I'm finding some success with brightness / contrast and cloning lately. I wish that I could find classes online classes to advance my photo editing skills but I can't find anything. I think that I have the camera and photography skills for a featured image but the editing skills hold me back.


State and national updates

Assessment roundup

Contributor: Dough4872

Statistics as of September 2, 2015.

Rank State Featured article FA A-Class article A GA B C Start Stub ω Ω
1 Michigan 26 6 187 0 0 0 0 380 1.735
2 Delaware 1 0 63 0 0 0 0 126 1.969
3 New York 12 3 197 330 109 25 0 1948 2.882
4 Washington 0 2 73 78 53 6 1 630 2.958
5 Maryland 4 1 66 344 47 7 0 1388 2.959
6 New Jersey 1 2 102 47 18 82 0 829 3.290
7 Utah 4 3 16 64 131 7 1 792 3.504
8 Iowa 2 1 18 17 87 12 0 496 3.620
9 Arizona 2 0 12 18 47 20 0 366 3.697
10 Oklahoma 2 0 14 67 38 57 0 666 3.742

During the past few months, there has been little to no change in the WikiWork of the top 10 states. It should be noted though that Delaware is now the second state to have all articles at GA or better after Michigan.

For full stats on all 50 states and more updated almost daily, take a look at WP:USRD/A/S. Now let's see how the project is doing overall.

Project Featured article FA A-Class article A GA B C Start Stub Total ω Ω
USRD 67 23 978 1389 2906 4433 1697 11493 50117 4.361
IH 20 1 53 40 266 193 3 576 2274 3.948
USH 15 3 66 36 221 318 6 665 2753 4.140
Auto trail 7 0 5 1 10 27 8 58 236 4.069

Since the last issue, we did not add any Featured Articles, but added a Featured List (Pure Michigan Byway), a Good Topic (Interstate Highways in Michigan), a new A-Class article (California State Route 94), and saw a net gain of 4 Good Articles. Overall, our relative WikiWork dropped 0.01 and we saw a net loss of one stub.


State updates

In other project news...

Contributor: Imzadi1979
View looking along eastbound NY 199 roughly one quarter-mile east of eastern NY 82 junction at Hammertown in the town of Pine Plains
  • File:NY 199 E of Hammertown 2014.jpg (pictured) has been promoted as a Commons Featured Picture, the first for the project photographed by an American.
  • Several more United States metropolitan area highway templates have been deleted, leaving only a handful left for discussion.
  • The {{Yahoo maps}} template has been fully deprecated and tagged for dead links now that Yahoo! has shuttered the mapping service. Any articles still using the site as a source need to be transitioned over to new sources.
  • The audit of older GAs has been concluded through those promoted in 2010 or earlier that need some attention.

Selected articles

The following articles appeared as the Selected article on a portal or task force page in the spring quarter:

April
US: Interstate 470 (Kansas)
MI: Whitefish Bay National Forest Scenic Byway
NJ: New Jersey Route 20
NY: New York State Route 382

Selected pictures

The following photos appeared as the Selected picture on the U.S. Roads Portal in the spring quarter:

April
Coral Way 20100321.jpg
Florida State Road 972 in Coral Gables.
May
US: Bay Freeway (Seattle)
MI: U.S. Route 25 in Michigan
NJ: New Jersey Route 413
NY: Loop Parkway
May
Before it was Interstate 8.jpg
The abandoned alignment of U.S. Route 80 across the In-Ko-Pah Gorge in California.
June
US: Ohio State Route 161
MI: M-134 (Michigan highway)
NJ: New Jersey Route 120
NY: New York State Route 146
June
NY 32 in Cornwall.jpg
New York State Route 32 in Cornwall

From the editors

The next quarterly issue should be out in the fall. 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 next issue released for the fall. 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 2 | Issue 3 | Issue 4