Missing Mile Markers: 419.9, 48.5 are the New 420, Says Traffic Dept
Zipping down the interstate or any highway, if you chance upon a sign that says 419.9, don’t get confused, just be amused. This ingenious and creative idea struck the transport agency after all its efforts failed to deter miscreants from stealing signs marked with numbers 69 and 420.
For years, motorists have been complaining about how difficult it was for them to navigate on long roadways looking for mileposts for 69 and 420 miles only to hear from the authorities about their being stolen. Traffic departments, in turn, pointed fingers at stoners, pranksters for the repeated nuisance.
Traffic agencies across states in the US now seem to have stumbled upon a plan to nip the trouble in the bud. Therefore, “419.9” signage now replaces good ol’ 420 and “68.9” or “68.5” for milepost number 69. Brilliant, isn’t it? Even if the signs aren’t missing, the Washington State Department Traffic officials have purposely removed them and replaced them with the new numbering anticipating thefts.
Walk the mile
Over 8,000 mileposts markers dot the roads in the state
608 signs replaced since 2012
Over 200 milepost markers are presently missing
Why 420 and 69 only
The number 420 is synonymous with weed culture as 4:20 pm is a time for smoking cannabis. Also, people celebrate and consume cannabis on April 20 (4/20), the international counterculture holiday. While number 69 is synonymous with a sexual position.
The “fine” tune
Washington State Patrol states that stealing a milepost marker gets one charged for a misdemeanor theft. If found guilty one may land up to 90 days in prison or fork out $1,000 fine for the third-degree theft.
Signs are important
Putting up a new sign can cost as much as $1,000, diverting resources from other transportation maintenance projects, Beth Bousley, a spokeswoman for the Washington Department of Transportation, told The Seattle Times. No wonder the taxpayers aren’t amused.
Moreover, mileposts help first responders reach scenes of accidents. They are also important landmarks in rural places to look for addresses.
Taylor Viydo, from Krem 2 News, puts it succinctly in a tweet accompanied with a picture of 68.9 signage: “When it comes to people stealing certain mile marker signs, WSDOT says the battle is never-ending. One way to combat the theft? Subtracting .1 from the total. This sign is off of 195 north of Rosalia. WSDOT says these thefts come in cycles and happen over the years.”