INDOT’s Reference Post System

In 1999, the Indiana Department of Transportation decided that it was time to come up with a system that would help better keep track of features along the roads that for which it was responsible. While is would be based, according to INDOT, on the mileage of the road, it was not a milepost system. It was a locator for maintenance items, other than signs, on the state highway system.

RPS 86 on US 40, Marion County, Indiana (Washington Park Cemetery). From Google Maps, snipped 23 December 2020.

There are many parts to the system. The one that most people would have seen, but not really noticed, were the signs that were put up for use with the system. These consisted of small blue signs with a mile number on it, with a smaller sign, if needed, below it with an offset to that mile on it. The signs themselves were barely wider than the post they were on. Very small in relation to most highway signs. Since they are technically only for INDOT use, their size wasn’t a concern. The public wouldn’t notice them, lessening the sign pollution that departments of transportation have been trying to keep under control forever.

RP 88, Offset .88, US 40 bridge of Buck Creek, Cumberland

I really wish I could have had a better snippet for the offset post, but then, the idea was to give the reader the image of what they roughly look like, so the reader would know what to look for.

The RPS manual is very detailed in its information. For instance, the picture to the left is listed as “RP_U_40_Post_86,” meaning “Reference Post, US 40, Post 86.” The one on the right is listed as “CUMBERLAND CORP. LINE BR 4588 O BUCK CREEK,” at least in the 2004 manual.

US 40 is a very prime example of why this system isn’t to be used as a mileage post system. The system was setup prior to the 1 July 1999 decommissioning of US 31, SR 37 and US 40 inside the Interstate 465 loop. What was, in 1999, marked as mile 86 on US 40 is, in 2020, at mile 92.37 on that very same road in 2004. In 2016, the last update from INDOT, it was listed as US 40 mile 65.179. The legal definition of US 40 was lengthened when it was rerouted along the southside of Indianapolis on I-465 in 2004. By a little over six miles. By 2016, the extra mileage along I-465 was removed to show a more accurate road mileage count towards INDOT’s limit of 12,000 miles.

But there is a bit more to the reference post system that comes into play. Each highway listed in the RPS not only includes the complete mileage for the road in Indiana, but they are also listed by the mileage per county, as well. For instance, reference post 86 above is listed as Marion County mile 24.06 in 2004. In the 2016 manual, that mileage is 5.027.

Then, the reference post system records almost everything along the road. This includes EVERY village/town/city street that intersects with the posted road. For instance, near reference post 86 is, in the 2004 manual, “86 + 0.21 24.52 IR 4193 LT (DELBRICK LN).” At reference post location 86.21, 24.52 route miles into Marion County, Delbrick Lane connects to Washington Street (US 40) on the left (north) side of the road. Directions are listed from the increasing number of the reference post. Every street is listed, although almost none of them have a reference post sign.

Also, the corporation limits of towns and cities are listed by the reference post location, although there is no reference post installed most of the time. This even includes old corporation limits. For instance, in the 2016 manual, reference post 85+0.686 is listed as “City or Town Limit – Indianapolis.” Post Road is reference post 86+0.668. Legally, Indianapolis continues for another at least two miles (the sign welcoming one to Indianapolis is west of German Church Road, the county line is another mile east of that, but that is in the town of Cumberland. And even legally, Cumberland is part of Indianapolis. It is as confusing as all get out, but suffice it to say, for the past 50 years, the city limits of Indianapolis have been the county limits of Marion County, with some exceptions. Certainly not Post Road.

But the idea of the legal multiplex of I-465 with almost every INDOT road in Marion County (there are two that don’t mix with I-465: US 136 and SR 135) that brings up another question. What about multiplexes of state roads?

When the system was created in 1999, it was designed with a hierarchy of roads. That hierarchy was interstate, US highway, then state road, in that order. INDOT does not use the term “multiplex” officially. It is called “travel over” in Indiana. The following picture comes from the INDOT RPS guide of 1999 showing how “travel overs” are handled when it comes to marking the mileage of the road.

Indiana Department of Transportation Reference Post System Users Guide, May 1999.

As you can see, near Frankfort, US 421 takes precedence with the little blue signs. SR 39 is junior to SR 38 when it comes to the signs, only due to the fact that 38 is before 39 numerically.

The system underwent some changes between 2004 and 2015. In 2015, it was made perfectly clear that the manual may contain some mistakes, but that every effort was taken to avoid them.

There was also a special note involving US 40 in Vigo County. When US 40 was removed from most of Vigo County, and rerouted along I-70 and SR 46, the RPS system was not changed to reflect that. The section of US 40 that “travels over” SR 46 is still labelled as SR 46. Here is INDOT’s explanation: “US 40 in Vigo County has a special issue that needs to be addressed. Due to relinquishments and creating a travel over for US 40, the alignment does not follow the historic path. US 40 now traverses where SR 46 has traditionally been and SR 46 is considered the Travel Over on US 40. However, the existing reference posts are still for the SR 46 route and are running in a contrary direction to the increasing direction of US 40. Therefore, for the purposes of this book, RP and Offset for the first 3 miles of US are based on the State Log Measure until it reaches the traditional location for US 40 and then jumps to RP 11 + 00 at the intersection of SR 46 and US 40.”

I mentioned above about the original system being put in place prior to the decommissioning of routes in Marion County. It is important to note that there were more routes affected than just those that were moved to I-465. Those routes were US 31, SR 37 and US 40. The mileage on those roads got weird, yes. But there were two others that were affected by the change…and one most people didn’t even realize.

SR 135 was rerouted from Troy Avenue to Thompson Road, cutting two miles out of the official route. This just required moving the little blue signs from north of Thompson Road, and surveying what else would need signs. And what wouldn’t.

The other route affect wasn’t even marked when it was decommissioned. Shadeland Avenue on the east side of Marion County was still legally SR 100 from I-465 to US 40 (Washington Street) until 1 July 1999. For the longest time, the only marker on SR 100 was a smaller blue sign below the reference post signs that read “100.”

INDOT has available on their website the RPS manuals for 2004, 2015 and 2016. Also available is the users guide from 1999. Here are the links for each: Users Guide200420152016

Bankruptcy of the Southern Indiana Railway, Part 2

In May, 2019, I wrote an article about the Milwaukee Road in Indiana. Yesterday, I started covering the absolute minute detail that comes when a company is for sale after filing for bankruptcy. Today, I want to show, in detail, the descriptions of the branch lines that the Southern Indiana Railway had at the time of the sale. Keep in mind, this legal announcement of sale would lead to the company that would be leased by the Milwaukee Road.

Notice of Sale of the Properties of The Southern Indiana Railway Company, Indianapolis Star, 28 September 1910.

There is a lot of survey jargon in this one. But it spells out in detail the beginning and end of each branch…with a rough idea of how it got between those two points.

Sullivan Branch: Beginning at a point of connection with the main line of The Southern Indiana Railway Company in the Northeast Quarter (N. E. 1/4) of the Southeast Quarter (S. E. 1/4) of Section Sixteen (16), Township Ten (10) North, Range Eight (8) West of the Second Principal Meridian, Vigo County, Indiana, at a point 198 feet from where center line crosses the north line of the Northeast Quarter (N. E. 1/4) of the Southeast Quarter (S. E. 1/4) of said Section Sixteen (16), and extending thence in a general Southerly direction through Vigo and Sullivan Counties to a point 50 feet Easterly from the center line of the Evansville & Terre Haute Railroad and 207 feet south of Washington Street in the City of Sullivan, Indiana.

The town of Blackhawk, Indiana, is located in Section 16, Township 10 North, Range 8 West.

Shelburn Branch: Beginning at a point of connection with the Sullivan Branch of The Southern Indiana Railway Company in the Southwest Quarter (S. W. 1/4) of the Southwest Quarter (S. W. 1/4) of Section Twenty Seven (27), Township Ten (10) North, Range Eight (8) West of the Second Principal Meridian, Vigo County, Indiana, at a point 83 feet south of the north line of the Southwest Quarter (S. W. 1/4) of the Southwest Quarter (S. W. 1/4) of said Section Twenty Seven (27), and extending thence in a general Southerly direction through Vigo and Sullivan Counties to a point of connection with the Sullivan Branch 271 feet Southwesterly from the East line of the Northwest Quarter (N. W. 1/4) of the Northeast Quarter (N. E. 1/4) of Section Twenty Three (23), Township Eight (8), Range Nine (9) West of the Second Principal Meridian.

Section 27, Township 10 North, Range 8 West is located northwest of the town of Lewis, Indiana. The southwest corner of Section 27 is at the corner of All Street and State Road 246, almost due south of Blackhawk.

Latta Branch: Beginning at a point of connection with the main line of The Southern Indiana Railway Company in Green County, Indiana, in the Northeast Quarter (N. E. 1/4) of the Southwest Quarter (S. W. 1/4) of Section Nine (9), Township Eight (8) North, Range Seven (7) West of the Second Principal Meridian, 312 feet North of the south line of the Northeast Quarter (N. E. 1/4) of the Southwest Quarter (S. W. 1/4) of said Section Nine (9), and extending thence in a general Southwesterly direction through Greene County; thence in a general Easterly direction through Sullivan County to a point 556 feet west of the north and south center line of Section Seventeen (17), Township Eight (8) North, Range Eight (8) West of the Second Principal Meridian.

1906 Map of Wright Township, Green County, Indiana. The red square is Section 9, Township 8 North, Range 7 West…or the beginning of the Latta Branch of the Southern Indiana Railway.

Coalmont Branch: Beginning at a point of connection with the main line of The Southern Indiana Railway Company in Clay County, Indiana, in the Northwest Quarter (N. W. 1/4) of the SOutheast Quarter (S. E. 1/4) of Section Thirty (30), Township Nine (9) North, Range Seven (7) West of the Second Principal Meridian, 62 feet Northwesterly from the south line of the Northwest Quarter (N. W. 1/4) of the Southeast Quarter (S. E. 1/4) of said Section Thirty (30), and extending thence in a general Southwesterly direction through Clay County and Sullivan County to a point of connection on the Latta Branch 987 feet Westerly from where the center line of the Latta Branch crosses the east line of said Section Fourteen (14).

1915 map of Coalmont, Clay County, Indiana. The number 30 below the word Coalmont shows that to be the Section 30 listed in the description of the beginning of the Coalmont branch of the Southern Indiana Railway.

St. Bernice Branch: All the right, title and interest acquired, or which may hereafter be acquired, by The Southern Indiana Railway Company, or Myron J. Carpenter as Receiver, in a branch railroad extending from a point on the main line of The Southern Indiana Railway Company at or near St. Bernice, Vermillion County, Indiana, in a general Southeasterly direction for a distance of approximately five and one-half (5 1/2) miles to the mines of the Clinton Coal Company, said branch railroad being at the date of entry of said decrees in curse of construction under authority granted to the said Receiver by order entered May 19th, 1910.

Thus are all the branch lines of the Southern Indiana Railway as of the sale in late 1910. If you read yesterday’s post (Bankruptcy of The Southern Indiana Railway, Part 1), or saw the first image in this entry, you can see that it is a very detailed legal notice. To the point that this, the second part, only got to the bottom of the first column of the notice. The complete notice takes nine columns…none full page columns. Again, this shows the level of detail any land transaction in Indiana entails…and even more so with something like a railroad that covers a long distance.