Map Quest can be handy when figuring out how to get from one place to another. I’ve used it to get from Ohio to Montana through Minnesota, for example. Sometimes though, like if you’re going to an out of the way place you’d better look at a conventional map. The folks who run the Hope Springs Institute in near Pebbles, OH have told me not to rely on the Map Quest map to find them and so has somebody who lives west of Dayton, OH in a place that doesn’t have a post office box.
Map Quest also doesn’t cover all the road navigating possibilities. The New York Times recently had a nifty article that runs through the possibilities. Consider the “jughandle turn” in New Jersey or the “Michigan left.” And there are the low water crossings in Texas and Kentucky and the frontage roads. Texas has them, and from experience, I can tell you that so does New Mexico.
Ohio has turn lanes that run down the center of busy roads. They basically allow you to pull into the middle of lanes going either way so you can make your turn without stopping the flow of traffic–nerve-wracking for people hailing from elsewhere.
The jughandle is basically the same concept as the center lanes in Ohio but, instead of putting you in the center of a road where traffic careens by on either side, it’s a road that goes off the right side of the road then loops around to the left. The Michigan left is a turn lane that basically allows you to make a U-turn.
The New York Times article included a University of Maryland website, Unconventional Arterial Intersection Design, that explains the various regional turns. It includes an animated feature. Pretty cool.