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While driving from Alberta to British Columbia, we noticed a road sign stating that Prince George was 111km away:

A green British Columbia road sign that says Prince George is 111km away.

We wondered why this specific road sign had been placed at a specific mileage of 111km, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. There aren't any cities or stops nearby that would incentivize a road sign specifically here at the 111km point.

It's expected that there are some reminder road signs that tell you how far away the next major city is, but why here? Some highway planner would have drafted up a road sign to go specifically here for some reason, right? They wouldn't have paid to build and install a sign unless there was some reason to.

Is there perhaps a law that requires road signs in British Columbia to be placed after a certain number of kilometers? Is this just an equidistant spot between some points of interest? What motivates the placement of this type of road sign on a British Columbian highway?

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  • It isn't the result of the change from miles to km either, 111 km is 69 miles (not a nice round number). Aug 10 at 8:16
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    I suspect (hence not an answer) they reckoned one was due in roughly that area, they put it on a nice straight bit where it wasn't a distraction and a crew could work safely and easily, and then worked out the distance. Aug 10 at 8:51
  • In UK, sometimes they place a distance marker a little way beyond a junction, then you know you are on the right road. The destination is as important as the distance, perhaps more so. Aug 10 at 10:36
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    Some highway planner would have drafted up a road sign to go specifically here for some reason engineers and planners have their own way of "humor" sometimes. perhaps 111 seemed better than 110 or 100 for the planner. Aug 10 at 12:45
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    The answer is probably to be found in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Canada, which sets standards for road signage. Unfortunately it costs CAD 575, but maybe some library near you has a copy. The USA's version is free though and might have similar provisions that would shed light. Aug 10 at 13:45
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Destination distance signs are supposed to be placed

Approximately every 20km between destinations or 40km intervals for highways that lie north of 54° latitude.

Source: BC's Manual of Standard Traffic Signs and Pavement Markings (PDF), chapter 4, page 4.8.

(More resources are available at the BC Ministry of Transportation and Infrastructure's page Traffic Signs & Pavement Markings.)

This highway is just south of 54 degrees north latitude, but I could not find another sign either 20 km west of this one nor 40 km west. But I did find one that is (nominally) exactly 100 km to the east, which appears to have been placed just west of McBride in keeping with the instruction to install these signs

Approximately 200 to 300m beyond the developed area departing an incorporated municipality

I suspect that this is the reason for the placement of the sign that you found.

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  • In northern Ontario, which also has highways through long stretches of not-much-going-on, they don't have many destination distance signs like that but do have frequent kilometer posts to let you know where you are and tell someone else where they can find you. I haven't found any of those on that BC highway, so maybe they use destination distance signs for the same purpose?
    – Dennis
    Aug 11 at 2:14

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