Q How about a short break from complaints about trash, speeding, cellphones, SUVs, etc.?

Rick Douglas

San Jose

A Rick has a fond spot in Roadshow for this comment he once sent:

"In an article about the Insight vs. the Prius, you rate the Prius as 'sexy'. I don't think so! The Prius is about as sexy as my 82-year-old grandmother in her nightgown holding a glass of water with her teeth in it. No, not sexy! No way!"

OK, I've stopped laughing. Now what's on your mind?

Q My question relates to the system that determines the freeway numbers in our area, especially the "80" numbers. I've always wondered why there are so many "80" numbers, such as the 280, 580, 880, etc. Why is this number so common here?

And why aren't they in sequence? I don't think there is a "180," for instance. And why did poor old "80" only end up with just two numbers?

Rick Douglas

A Primary routes like I-80 have just one or two digits, while interstate routes that feed and extend it are given an extra digit. I-80 is fed by 280, 380, 680, etc. The number 180 can't be used because it's a route in Fresno that was there before the interstates.

There are 280s, 380s and 480s all across the country where I-80 goes. California's auxiliary interstates are a little different because we're up against the ocean. Throughout the country these auxiliary interstates are usually beltways and do not cross state lines.

There are similar freeway names with I-5 as the main route -- I-405 in Los Angeles, I-705 in Long Beach and I-805 in San Diego.

Q Once in Reno on Interstate 80, I saw a sign saying I-580 half a mile away. I thought my eyes had gone bad! I checked Mapquest and found I-580 from I-80 in Reno to Carson City. So, we have two separate I-580s, one in California and one in Nevada. What is going on here anyway?

Richard Peterson

Livermore

A Duplicate route numbers exist in many states. Otherwise you'd run out of numbers. Two decades ago the Nevada Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration agreed on "Interstate 580" and began referring to the stretch of U.S. 395 from Reno to Carson City as 580. Signs went up a couple of years ago.

The designation as an interstate guaranteed federal funding. For this same reason, Highway 17 was changed to I-880 from Valley Fair to Oakland 30 years ago.

Q Highway 65 runs from Marysville to Roseville with a 300-mile gap before it picks back up in Southern California. Were there actually plans once to complete this highway? Bet that would be a multi-hundred-billion-dollar project today.

Mark

A Yes, there were. In the early days, the Legislature laid out a highway system that was intended to connect all county seats. Then they started building, but it took time and there were gaps. As time went on and the state developed, population centers changed and the gaps on some routes were not completed.

Look for Gary Richards at Facebook.com/mr.roadshow, follow him at Twitter.com/mrroadshow or contact him at mrroadshow@mercurynews.com or 408-920-5335.