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Driving Forward: NDDOT unveils new road map for phone-savvy drivers

Published: Jul. 9, 2021 at 1:59 PM CDT
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BISMARCK, N.D. (KFYR) - You may not have noticed this, but road-trippers in North Dakota have. The State Transportation Department unveiled a new road map.

Most people pick a different method of getting around. So to boost popularity, cartographers changed the layout and added new features. But this isn’t the first time the state road map has received a face lift.

When packing for a day trip, what do you grab? Over time, your favorite snacks may change, but so has the co-pilot. These days, a map on your phone is the go-to, leaving behind the old-style printed versions.

“Maps are hard. I mean, it’s hard to be driving and trying to read a map and say I need to turn in... well let’s pull out my ruler and try to figure out how much distance I have until my next turn. I also don’t want to pull over to do it,” said Bismarck resident Dan Revier.

To revamp the map, cartographers refreshed the graphics and added QR codes for larger cities. Scan them your on phone, and it leads you to more information about the area.

“How can we provide a map or produce something that will peak people’s interest and get off the interstate and go an explore the different things that North Dakota has to offer. And that was one of the things that we tried to do,” said Senior Project Manager for the DOT Steven Nelson.

Over time, the information on road maps has changed for the evolving needs of drivers. In the State Archives, there are maps dating back to the 1930′s.

It’s not just the roads that have changed, but so has how North Dakota presents itself.

“Check this out: North Dakota is the “‘The Friendly State,’” Director of State Archives Shane Molander said.

Tag lines of the past: Land of Fresh Horizons. The Great Way. Roughrider Country. All proudly printed where travelers can see it: the road map.

“We work in conjunction with tourism to do that and try to relay that message to show the people what the state has and try to show people exciting things and get them onto the beaten path,” said Nelson.

And it seems to be working, to a point.

Some information just can’t be printed. “I’d take 3 up to Rugby and then take Highway 2 over... It would be quicker to go this way, right? I’m trying to figure out whether this is going to be faster because maybe there’s less road construction here,” said Revier, while planning a route from Bismarck to Devils Lake.

While newer generations struggle to learn how to use a map.

All generations can agree the hardest part is folding it.

At one point, the state would print 1.2 million maps. More than 350,000 maps were printed for the next two years. Printing the maps recently moved to a shop in Fargo, and costs 29 cents to be printed. The cost of the entire map-making process was $102,000.

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