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Renaming the national highways

All national highways will have a new ‘scientific and self-explanatory’ identity starting next year....

All national highways will have a new ‘scientific and self-explanatory’ identity starting next year. Taking a cue from the US highway numbering system,the Ministry of Road Transport & Highways (MoRTH) has decided to re-number all ‘predominantly horizontal corridors’ in two digit odd numbers and the ‘predominantly vertical corridors’ in two digit even numbers. Three digit highways will indicate secondary routes and the English alphabet will be used for suffixes as the highway network swells up. Planning to stick to highway numbering between 1 and 99,instead of spilling well on the 200s,as is the case now,the new numbering will mean that the identity of each highway,as we know it now,will stand dissolved as highways will be viewed vertically or horizontally rather than the haphazard direction some of them move in.

The move to rechristen NHs — initiated by MoRTH Secretary Brahm Dutt in 2008 — is aimed at allotting new identities to the highways that are direction and area specific. A ministerial committee was set up last year to formulate a grid-like highway numbering plan and the same has been accepted by the MoRTH. The re-numbering process will begin next financial year — from April 1.

“The whole familiarisation process with the new NH numbering system will take longer. The exercise to renumber,replace all highway signage and familiarise the general public could take up to five years,” said an official.

As per the plan,a ‘predominantly horizontal corridor’ would only be the one that is within 45 degrees of the east-west axis. It will have a two digit odd number identity and as one drives from the northern direction towards the south,the number will increase,giving a communter a fair idea of the direction towards which he is headed.

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Similarly,a ‘predominantly vertical corridor’ would have to be within 45 degrees of the north-south axis and will come with a two-digit even number identity. As one drives from east to west,the number will increase indicating the direction change.

The Golden Quadrilateral and the North-South-East-West corridor will have no special numbering system.

The primary national highways apart,the secondary ones will be distinguished with three digits. If a highway takes off from a primary NH and terminates at another primary NH,the third digit will be an even number for this ‘circumferential route’. A highway that emanates from a primary NH but ends elsewhere will have a three digit number and the third digit will be an odd number. In case it’s needed,alphabets will be used as suffixes.

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US highways are assigned one to three digit numbers. North-south routes are indicated with odd numbers and east-west ones with even numbers.

Soon after Independence,India had 21,000 km of national highways and these were numbered starting with NH1,as per the assumed importance of the road. The highway network has now expanded to over 70,000 km,without any underlying trend or grid system.

First published on: 03-12-2009 at 12:22:02 am
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