It’s not quite the distance that’s listed on the sign.
The “Sacramento Ca 3073” sign that hangs over the Harry W. Kelley drawbridge was originally conceptualized by Ed Buck, a Maryland highway engineer in the ’70s and ’80s. The sign doesn’t have much practical use, but it does serve as a fun reminder that we’re over 3,000 miles from the opposite end of the country.
Sacramento returned the favor some years later with a sign marking the distance of Ocean City, MD, which is now listed just below Placerville and South Lake Tahoe, both in California and many miles closer to Sacramento than Ocean City is. John R. Cropper, who worked for the California Department of Transportation in the ’80s, thought there should be a sign to parallel the one in OC, and so the sign–which has had to be replaced several times after being stolen–was erected in California.
U.S. Route 50 is a major route of the U.S. highway system that passes through 12 states and stretches over 3,000 miles from the East Coast to the West.
While Sacramento may have been about 3,073 miles from Ocean City in the 1980s, changes in the highway’s route through added bypasses over the decades have made the distance a good bit shorter: Wikipedia states Route 50 as being 3,017 miles long, while WTOP reported that, according to a Federal Highway Administration spokesperson, the distance should be about 3,008 miles.
It might not seem like a huge difference, but if you’re making the long journey from the East Coast to the West, those 65 fewer miles add up.
Now that these strange signs are getting local and national attention, they’ll both likely be updated after engineers with the Maryland State Highway Administration verify the exact distance of the highway.