To metrify or demetrify?

In episode four I erroneously mentioned an Interstate highway in south Texas that is currently having all of its metric distance signs replaced with signs using English units of measurement.

In fact, Interstate 19 connects Nogales and Tucson in southern Arizona.

In 1980, the state’s Department of Transportation opted to use meter and kilometer signs on the 60-odd mile long stretch of highway as a kind of pilot project resulting from so-called “metric push” of the mid-to-late 1970s.

But according to a March 11 story on NPR, the State of Arizona is using $1.5 million in federal stimulus money to demetrify the signs on I-19. No doubt this is upsetting to the fine folks at the U.S. Metric Association, which since 1916 has been lobbying the United States to adopt the metric system, and with the exception of a few consumer products like two-liter soda bottles and 35-mm film, has been quite unsuccessful.

But at least we can take solace in the fact that by hanging on to the English system we’re in good company. True, the English themselves might have abandoned their own system in favor of metric long ago, but we’ll hold out with Liberia and Myanmar – a true coalition of the willing as Dandy Glenn noted.

– Dandy Will


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