Utah Route 30 and Wyoming Route 89 (No, not the US Highways)

In the area of Utah, Idaho and Wyoming that surrounds Bear Lake, one could circumnavigate the lake using four highways: US Highway 30, US Highway 89, Utah Route 30, and Wyoming Highway 89. Confused yet?

Image: Google Maps
To add to the confusion, both state highways exist in discontinuous segments through their respective states. Today we explore how this situation came to exist, by going over how each of the state highways got their numbers.

Lets start with the simpler Wyoming Highway 89. WY-89 starts in Evanston, WY at I-80/US-189 on its south end, and continues northwest. The road then enters Utah where it becomes UT-16. To put it mildly, it's a beautiful drive, even if my old photo from college doesn't do it much justice.

UT-16 at MP 7. My photo from November 2011.

From UT-16, you take UT-30 to the Wyoming State Line, where it becomes Wyoming 89 again. WY-89 then continues north, multiplexing with US-30, and then continuing north, becoming the border with Idaho. Once the road crosses into Idaho, it becomes the extremely short Idaho Route 61 for about 3/4 of a mile. And ID-61 ends at US-89.

So how did WY-89 get this number? In this case, US-89 is the answer. The road was originally numbered WY-65 in 1924, when Wyoming began building its highway network. In 1926, US Highways began being numbered, and US-89 ended at Spanish Fork, UT

A 1933 Highway Map of Wyoming. Click the link to zoom.

The road was renumbered to entice AASHO to extend US-89 northward into Wyoming. And indeed, US Highway was extended into Wyoming, but wouldn't enter the state until about four miles north of where WY-89 currently ends. Today, US 89 runs all the way to the Canadian Border in Montana at Carway.

So in light of this, why does Wyoming 89 currently exist? Especially since Wyoming 150's north end is at WY-89, and could simply be extended over the current route, eliminating this confusion with the US Highway. Not being in charge of numbering Wyoming's highways, I cannot answer this question.

Now onto Utah's State Route 30. Interestingly enough, the reason this number exists is relatively straightforward, even if it creates a similar situation with regard to confusion with US-30. That reason is the State of Nevada.

NV-233. Image: Corco Highways

Nevada Route 233 is a road from I-80 to the Utah State Line (sound familiar?), and this used to be numbered NV-30, and generally follows the First Transcontinental Railroad in Nevada. The connecting road in Utah was numbered UT-70 until 1966, when the State chose to renumber it as UT-30 to keep the same number for the same road across state lines. 

This is a great idea, and something I wish more DOT's would do, but in this case, Nevada changed their entire state highway system in 1978, renumbering NV-30 to NV-233, which completely negated the point of Utah numbering their road similarly.

Utah almost never has their highways multiplex, which is why UT-30 exists in three places. I think that's silly, but again, I don't control anyone's highways. UT-30 runs from the Nevada State Line to I-84, where an implied multiplex has it running southeasterly to the interchange with I-15, then continuing north on I-15 to Riverside. It "begins" again from I-15 east to Logan, UT, where its implied to multiplex again with US-89 to Garden City, where it once again begins, heading south from US-89, to the Wyoming State Line, where it meets the aforementioned WY-89.

To further continue to confuse things, there is a connection to US-30, but not from Nevada. At Curlew Junction, UT, UT-70 ended and US-30S continued east along present-day UT-30. 

Image: USGS Historic Topo Explorer

The central section of UT-30 was originally known as UT-102 (Tremonton to Deweyville) and UT-69 (Deweyville to Logan). In 1966, The northern counties in Utah wished for a continuous route across the state, and since Nevada had NV-30, that was the number chosen, in spite of the fact that from the Wyoming State Line to US-30 in Wyoming is only about a 4 mile difference. 

In systems as complex as State Highways, there is bound to be some confusion with regard to numbering as systems converge, and even more confusion when factoring in the overarching US Highway System as well, especially when competing governments get involved. In UT-30's case, while US-30S overlapped a part of the present-day route, in general, it got its number completely unrelated to the US Route, which is not the case for Wyoming 89. While certainly confusing for travelers unfamiliar with the area, its certainly an interesting quirk of US and State Highways to analyze from afar.

Thanks as always for reading!


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