Control city

Control city
This sign in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma lists control cities of Wichita, Kansas and Ft. Smith, Arkansas for Interstate 35 and Interstate 40 respectively.

A control city is a city or locality posted on a traffic sign indicating forward destinations on a certain route. These destinations aid motorists using the highway system to reach destinations along the various routes.[1] Such cities appear on signs at highway junctions to indicate where the intersecting road goes, or on mileage signs on longer routes.


United States

The determination of major destinations or control cities is important to the quality of service provided by the freeway. Control cities on freeway guide signs are selected by the States and are contained in the "List of Control Cities for Use in Guide Signs on Interstate Highways," published and available from American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials.
—Federal Highway Administration, Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, 2003 Edition, Chapter 2E[2]

The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) states that control cities should be used:

  1. At interchanges between freeways (example US-1 in gallery)
  2. At separation points of overlapping freeway routes (example US-2 in gallery)
  3. On directional signs on intersecting routes, to guide traffic entering the freeway (example US-3 in gallery)
  4. On pull-through signs (example US-4 in gallery)
  5. On the bottom line of post-interchange distance signs (example US-5 in gallery)

The individual states ultimately have the authority to decide which cities can be control cities,[3] but the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials retains the authority to approve the official list and standardizes all control cities used on the Interstate Highway system in the United States. The published standard is not always followed, for a few reasons – major destinations have since appeared that were not on the original list, new roads have been built that provide new routes, or because of state highway departments' hesitancy to sign destinations in other states. Some examples:

I-10 in Southern California uses Indio and "other Desert Cities" to guide motorists east.
I-76 (Pennsylvania Turnpike) uses "Ohio" to guide motorists west.
North of Baltimore in Maryland, New York is used instead of closer Philadelphia or Wilmington.
This sign in Petersburg, Virginia aids long-distance travelers, by listing the cities of Miami, Florida and Atlanta, Georgia.

A control city is not always a major city. For instance:

Occasionally, a closer large city is not a control city because a larger city is located farther along a highway. For example:

On these signs in San Francisco, both the Golden Gate Bridge and the Bay Bridge are listed as control cities

Sometimes, a building or landmark may be posted as a control city instead of an actual settlement. On highway signs in San Francisco, for example, the "control city" for northbound U.S. Route 101 is the Golden Gate Bridge, while one for eastbound Interstate 80 is the San Francisco – Oakland Bay Bridge. In the Los Angeles metropolitan area, the "control city" for the westbound Glendale Freeway (SR 2) is the Echo Park neighborhood of the city of Los Angeles.


The A20 can be used to reach the Mercier Bridge and Toronto from here in Montreal.

Control cities are particularly necessary for highways that do not follow strict linear directions. Ontario's Queen Elizabeth Way, for example, wraps around the western end of Lake Ontario, with segments proceeding both east and west at different points. Compass directions are not used at all in its central sections, and the control cities of Toronto and (for the opposite direction) Hamilton/Niagara Falls/Fort Erie are the only bearings provided.

Each of the 400-series highways uses control cities, but the common Ontario practice is to use smaller, and closer urban centres. For example, on Highway 401, Cornwall, rather than the much larger city of Montreal, is the eastbound control city east of Kingston.

The Ministère des Transports du Québec typically uses large urban centres as control cities, even if they are far away and even outside the province. For example, signs in Montreal, Quebec, indicate control cities as far as Toronto and Ottawa on major Autoroutes 20 and 40 respectively. New York and Vermont are used as control cities for Autoroutes 15 and 35 respectively.


Continental Europe

Unlike in the United States and Canada, roads in Continental Europe are not signed with directional banners (east, west, north, and south), so the direction of the route is indicated by a major city or destination (directly or indirectly) reached by the route (examples FR-1 and DK-1 below). While not called "control cities", the function is the same.

Britain and Ireland

On UK motorways, directional banners are often used, usually followed by the next largest city on the route. In the Republic of Ireland, directional banners are used on the M50.

Rest of World


Freeways, Motorways and Tollways in Australia, whilst not using the term 'Control City', operate on much the same system as in the United States and Europe. Directional markers are not used, instead the next large towns or cities which are likely to be the destination, or known waypoints for, motorists are used.

  • Within cities major suburbs will usually be used - In the eastern suburbs of Melbourne Chadstone & Dandenong, which are connecting hubs with the national route 1, Princes Highway, are used as route markers. Traveling inbound, depending upon the drivers location in Melbourne's east one of these markers will generally be used along with a marker 'City' referring to the Central Business District. The marker 'city' is only used when within the metropolitan area of a city, outside of the metropolitan area routes traveling towards that city will use the city's full name.
  • Outside of cities major regional centers or capital cities will generally be used as markers.
  • The same principle applies to major and secondary surface roads in Australia, with the most major suburb or town, or the roads terminus in either directing being used as the 'control city'.
  • In some circumstances a major infrastructure location, most often Airports, will be used as a 'Control' City. In the case of surface roads if they connect to a freeway, motorway or tollway sometimes this connection will be used as a signing point.



External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

Look at other dictionaries:

  • City of London School — Motto Domine Dirige Nos Established 1442 Type Boys …   Wikipedia

  • City Wide Maintenance — City Wide Maintenance, Inc. The City Wide Maintenance headquarters in Lenexa, KS. Type Private …   Wikipedia

  • City of Derry Airport — Londonderry/Eglinton Airport[1] …   Wikipedia

  • City of Illusions —   …   Wikipedia

  • City and County of Swansea Council — The Logo of the City and County of Swansea council …   Wikipedia

  • City of Heroes — Boxart Developer(s) Cryptic Studios Paragon Studios Publisher(s) …   Wikipedia

  • City of Military Glory — (Russian: «Город воинской славы») is an honorary title bestowed upon the citizenry of Russian cities, where soldiers had displayed courage and heroism during the Great Patriotic War.[1] The award, which to date has been bestowed upon 27 cities,… …   Wikipedia

  • City of David — City of David, Holyland Model of Jerusalem Tourist inside Hezekiah s tunnel 20 …   Wikipedia

  • City of Villains — Developer(s) Cryptic Studios, Paragon Studios Publisher(s) NC …   Wikipedia

  • City of Blinding Lights — Single by U2 …   Wikipedia