[Talk-us] Consensus on "SR" for state route versus state abbreviation?

Toby Murray toby.murray at gmail.com
Thu Sep 13 18:15:04 BST 2012

On Thu, Sep 13, 2012 at 1:57 AM, David ``Smith'' <vidthekid at gmail.com> wrote:
> Concerning ref tags on ways, I don't think there's a need to impose
> nationwide "consistency".  I also don't think it's worth even adhering to a
> strict machine-parseable syntax (particularly dealing with overlaps) since
> that kind of information is much better organized in relations.

Agreed but virtually no common tools actually use route relations yet.
According to another message on this mailing list today we will
finally get a rendering with shields based on relations up soon. So
hopefully this is the beginning of a wider adoption of route

> That said, here are my "ideal" guidelines for formatting ref tags on single
> state highways:
> 1) If there is one clearly-popular abbreviation, such as M-xx in Michigan or
> possibly K-xx in Kansas, use it.

Most of the ones in Kansas are actually "KS XX" - might have something
to do with me having done most of them and I consider national
consistency to be of value :)

> B) When routes overlap, there is no "right" way to format the way's ref tag.
> I don't think any active renderers attempt to separate it into multiple
> values; considering this information can be stored with much better
> structure in relations, I don't think any programmer wants to bother with
> trying to parse a ref string anyway.  That just leaves humans who will ever
> read it, and we can optimize for that.

Actually, Mapquest does parse the ref tags to some degree. They strip
out prefixes and only show numbers for state highways. I'm pretty sure
they used to only strip out postal abbreviations but it looks like
they've expanded the algorithm a bit to include other common values.
They also parse out multiple values (possibly just up to two?) as seen
here on both I-70/US40 and I-135/US81 although the US81 isn't rendered
as a US highway shield for some reason like it is north of Salina
where it no longer overlaps I-135:


> On Sep 12, 2012 8:59 PM, "Charlotte Wolter" <techlady at techlady.com> wrote:
>> Hello all,
>>         Was there ever consensus on whether to use "SR" (or some variation
>> on that) for state highways versus an abbreviation of the state name ("CA"
>> or "NY"). I remember that there was discussion, but I don't remember if
>> there was consensus.
>>         Thanks.
>> Charlotte
>> Charlotte Wolter
>> 927 18th Street Suite A
>> Santa Monica, California
>> 90403
>> +1-310-597-4040
>> techlady at techlady.com
>> Skype: thetechlady
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