Iowa Road Signs

FAQ - DISTANCE SIGNS ON INTERSTATES AND FREEWAYS



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What cities are shown on the Distance Sign?

Distance Signs may contain up to three lines of legend.

The top line of the distance sign will show the closest community that is shown on the Advance Destination Sign for the next interchange. If the two communities shown on the Advance Destination Sign are the same distance away, the community with the largest population will be shown.

The second line, if used, may show another community accessible at the next or subsequent interchange with preference given to the community closest to the exit.

The bottom line shall display the name of the control city for the route.

What is a control city?

A control city is a major city on or near the interstate or freeway system, is a significant generator of traffic or a focal point for travel, and is used as a destination to provide long-range navigational information. The American Association of Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) is responsible for approving and publishing the list of control cities for the interstate system.

Where are Distance Signs installed?

Distance Signs are included in the series of signs (route shield, speed limit, and distance signs) that follow an entrance ramp. If there is adequate space available the distance signs are installed after the entrance ramp.

How is the mileage measured?

The mileage shown on distance signs is the distance to a point near the center of the community. A public building such as a post office, city hall or courthouse is used as a point of reference for the center of the community. The mileage is rounded to the nearest mile.

How do I request a Distance Sign?

Please send a written request to the appropriate Iowa DOT District Office. Include in your request a description of the sign message you are requesting and the location where you would like the sign installed.


FAQs - Distance Signs on primary highways other than freeway

For Distance Signs there are two categories of primary highways--interstate and intrastate. Primary INTERSTATE highways are roadways that keep their route number designation after they cross the state line. A primary INTRASTATE highway is one that has its entire length within the state.

Select a question below to reveal the answer.

What cities are shown on the Distance Sign?

Distance Signs may contain up to three lines of legend.

Primary interstate highway
The top line is the next incorporated community on or adjacent (within one mile of the highway) to the route.

The middle line is the next county seat or incorporated community of 1000 or more population on or adjacent to the route.

The bottom line is the next incorporated community of 15,000 or more population on or adjacent to the route. An out of state community may be listed or the distance to the state line may be shown.

Primary intrastate highway
The top line is the next incorporated community on or adjacent to the route.

The middle line is the next county seat or incorporated community of 500 or more population on or adjacent to the route.

The bottom line is the next incorporated community of 5,000 or more population on or adjacent to the route. Only two lines will be shown on the sign if no communities of this size or on or adjacent to the route.

Where are Distance Signs installed?

The Distance Sign is typically installed at the corporate limit of incorporated communities, as you are leaving the community. The sign may be omitted if the proposed location is in close proximity to a primary road intersection.

How is the mileage measured?

The mileage shown on distance signs is the distance to a point near the center of the community. A public building such as a post office, city hall or courthouse is used as a point of reference for the center of the community. The mileage is rounded to the nearest mile.

How do I request a Distance Sign for a primary highway (other than a Freeway)?

Please send a written request to the appropriate Iowa DOT District Office. Include in your request a description of the sign message you are requesting and the location where you would like the sign installed.