Warning at the Border

I’m still catching-up from my brief holiday hiatus from Twelve Mile Circle responsibilities. It serves me right for thinking I could keep a low profile with so much geo-weirdness happening in the world at any given time. I imagine many of you saw mainstream press coverage of a few legislators in New Hampshire proposing warning signs for motorists about to enter neighboring Massachusetts?

The argument is that Massachusetts requires automobile insurance and motorcycle helmets, it places greater restrictions on guns and fireworks, and its more restrictive by nature in general. New Hampshire is all "Live Free or Die" and Massachusetts is, well, it’s the People’s Republic of Taxachusetts. That’s how it’s being framed by the NH Legislators involved. I think one quote from the article articulates this position rather succinctly: "Basically I had people come to me and tell me they had accidentally crossed the border and ended up on the wrong side of the law… If they had seen a sign saying ‘hey, you’re about to go into Massachusetts,’ they could have turned around." Indeed.

View Larger Map
A Section of the Hostile Border Region

I’ll leave it to each of you to determine a personal point of view since 12 MC isn’t a political blog (albeit we’ve waded into NH-MA waters briefly before). I also realize this bill is probably a bit tongue-in-cheek, voicing frustration without much expectation of actually passing. Nonetheless that doesn’t mean that I can examine some of the potential implications and have some fun with it.

Would this be the only instance where one state warns motorists of potential problems or restrictions in a neighboring state? I’ve seen plenty of examples that goes the other direction, where a state wants travelers to understand its restrictions to avoid unknowing trouble. I see this in my own beloved Commonwealth along major roads as one crosses the border: Speed enforced by aircraft; Speed Checked by Radar and Other Electrical Devices; and Radar Detectors are Illegal. I’ve seen actual border stops such as California’s Agricultural Inspection Stations (went through the Lake Tahoe Station once). Occasionally I see friendly exit messages like "Drive Safely — Return Again Soon" However the New Hampshire proposal would be a new one to me. Does anyone know of something similar — a warning about a neighboring jurisdiction — and can provide an associated Google Map link?

I like to examine the actual text of a bill when I see an article like this. I know, I’m weird. However source documents often provides revealing information that doesn’t make it into the news. The Legislature is called the The New Hampshire General Court; it is bicameral with a House of Representatives of 400 members. The General Court brags that it’s "the second largest legislature in the United States following the U.S. Congress." New Hampshire is also the 46th smallest of the 50 states so it seems there may be a bit of a Napoleon Complex going on here. It shouldn’t be surprising that "creative" ideas might make their way into the legislative process when representation covers such tiny slices of geography.

The bill, HB 1412 says, "All roads that cross the New Hampshire/Massachusetts state line shall bear signs that say “Warning: Massachusetts Border 500 Feet.” Lest anyone consider this a frivolous use of taxpayer funds, lawmakers propose that " No public money shall be used to pay for such signs." Instead a citizen, group, association or business will sponsor each sign, and in return will be able to erect "a suitable recognition sign."

Warning Massachusetts 500 Feet
I’ve combined both signs into a single sign for further cost savings

My next round of Adsense funding will go towards sponsoring a sign if HB 1412 passes and becomes New Hampshire law. The heck with another holiday abroad. Sponsorship competition will be stiff for signs along busy roads such as Interstates 93 and 95 but those wouldn’t be nearly geo-odd enough for me anyway. I’ll need to find someplace obscure. I have plenty of opportunities among the 138 existing road crossings between the two states.

Well, I counted 138 crossings — that’s what passes for a fun Saturday evening on the 12MC — although I can’t guarantee that exact number. It’s close enough for our purposes. The more significant point to understand is that there are plenty of border crossings that will need sponsors. The court decision for Yarnell v. Cuffley makes it practically impossible to deny 12MC sponsorship, so we’ll be able to sponsor a sign if the law passes and I have the necessary cash on hand.

I found a few possible locations for the Twelve Mile Circle warning sign:

  • It would probably be most useful along some random tertiary road that doesn’t even warrant a state border marker. However that seems rather boring for 12MC purposes.
  • The loops of Brooks Road and Brooks Road Extended may be more appropriate, requiring three signs to comply with the proposed law.
  • Motorists also need to know what they’re getting into when they visit these two houses at the end of a remote cul-de-sac. As an aside, I’d be thrilled to live in a home with a state border running straight down the driveway like the guy towards the east.
  • Maybe the Highway 12 crossing is a possibility, you know, because this is the Twelve Mile Circle?
  • My inner Beavis & Butt-head appreciates the special needs of an approach to Pecker Pond.

Any other sponsorship suggestions from the wise 12MC audience?

Totally Unrelated

Sports Nation Divided says that Turner, Montana is the "Saddest Town in America" because it’s the farthest away from a major league baseball team. I’m looking at you, Weekend Roady.

5 Replies to “Warning at the Border”

  1. This will prove to be interesting if they take it to extremes and post the warning signs in the parking aisles at Pheasant Lane Mall in Nashua. http://g.co/maps/hf2y9 (Google’s dashed state border line is slightly too far north.) The corner of the JCPenney store is cut off precisely at the border. (If any part of the store were in Massachusetts, it would have to charge Massachusetts sales tax.) The Wikipedia article about the mall tells more about the changing site design.

  2. It would probably be most useful along some random tertiary road that doesn’t even warrant a state border marker

    There is a white pole on the east side of the road as it crosses from Massachusetts into New Hampshire and changes its name from Century Way to Elmer Drive. I would imagine that the pole is a border marker of sorts.

    Also note that the road has a sidewalk in Massachusetts, a sidewalk that ends abruptly at the border. The fact that the authorities in Massachusetts see fit to build a sidewalk in an area that probably has very little pedestrian traffic, while their Granite State counterparts do not, may be a testament to the different philosophies of government (and taxation) in the two states.

  3. The closest I can think of today is a sign located in Missouri just before the bridge into Quincy, IL. (link to Google Maps is http://maps.google.com/maps?hl=en&ll=39.929945,-91.428094&spn=0.011173,0.026157&t=m&z=16&vpsrc=6&layer=c&cbll=39.929978,-91.427929&panoid=I4EolY4c_RFmgAAh5BQndw&cbp=12,105.48,,0,3.14)

    The sign is unreadable, and my memory isn’t the greatest, but from what I recall the sign warns about smuggling cigarettes into Illinois (who has much higher taxes than Missouri). I believe the sign also warns about a law prohibiting radar detectors in commercial vehicles. I tried to find a clean picture of the sign on the Internet but have been unable to…I may be in the area at the end of the month and if so will see if I can snap a pic myself. While the state line is located several hundred feet ahead about 2/3 of the way across the bridge, my guess is the state of Illinois funded the sign to warn drivers as early as possible (since the bridge dumps drivers immediately into downtown Quincy leaving little room for warning signs on that side).

    Picture showing state line:

    East end of bridge coming into Quincy:

  4. I’ve only ever seen these Leaving Apple Maggot Quarantine Area: Please Do Not Transport Homegrown Tree Fruit signs when leaving King County, Washington, never at the Canadian or Oregon borders, but according to http://gardening.wsu.edu/library/tree002/tree002.htm they do appear there.

    I find it bizarre there are more results for that phrase on Google having to do with an obscure band named after the signs than after the signs themselves. But I suppose if I didn’t I wouldn’t be a geo-nerd!

Comments are closed.