In and around Chihuahua
Welcome to Mexico
To me it's the place that gave us tacos, burritos and guacamole, but to Jonathan Winkler it's so much more. Having headed south of the border on a number of occasions, he is well placed to provide an introduction to the roads of Mexico.
In Mexico, as in Great Britain, officialdom shows a healthy concern for the possible consequences of driving while tired. This sign translates as "Don't drive tired" - the local equivalent to "Tiredness can kill - Take a break." Although the left-hand shoulder stripe is yellow, the pickup truck coming forward is not travelling in the wrong direction. This is normally the eastbound half of Mex. 16 (a four-lane divided highway) between Chihuahua and Aldama, but it is carrying traffic in both directions while the westbound lanes are closed for repairs.
Passing is temporarily not permitted on the eastbound lanes of Mex. 16 just outside Chihuahua - indeed, the contraflow in operation here continues that shown in the previous picture. Aside from this sign and regulatory signs elsewhere indicating two-lane traffic, the altered lane orientation is not obvious since Mexico (unlike its North American neighbors or Britain) does not normally resort to channel delineators or temporary striping for contraflows.
Chihuahua's airport and sanitary landfill are just to the east of the built-up area, near the orchard-growing village of Aldama (about 30 km from Chihuahua proper). Cantilevered overhead direction signs such as this are used quite often even at at-grade intersections in rural areas. Note the lightweight construction of the support, the absence of guardrail protection, and the presence of an informal dirt "frontage road" off to the right. The trees in the median, however, screen the billboards and contribute to visual amenity. Billboards are hard to escape in Mexico, where many are owned by the government and carry nannyish messages like "Esteemed driver, please think of your spouse and children before you drink and drive," or tout the latest Informe de gobierno (annual report of the state government) with exclamations such as ¡Sonora tiene más! ("Sonora has more!").
"Please don't mistreat the signs." Such abuse of highway signs as there is in Mexico generally takes the form of black graffiti and miscellaneous informatory signs such as this - which often present information for which standard warning or regulatory signs are available - are favored targets.
This is typical of two-lane carreteras federales in flat rural areas. This picture is taken from a portion signed for 80 km/h but the speed limit drops to 70 km/h as the road traverses a low mountain pass in the distance and goes past the El Morrión radio transmitter.
On numbered state and federal highways in Mexico, generally every kilometerpost indicating a kilometrage value integrally divisible by five has the route marker above the kilometrage. The Mexican Manual de dispositivos para el control del tránsito has provision for independent-mounted route markers similar to those used in the US and Canada, but these are hardly ever used. These fifth km-posts are thus the main mechanism of route confirmation. Kilometerpointing is not always predictable in Mexico, but some general rules appear to be followed: (1) km-posts generally increase from the start of the route for routes which branch off of more important ones, and (2) km-posts on major routes generally increase as they radiate outward from the principal city in a given state (in Chihuahua and Sonora, km-posts increase radiating outward from the respective state capitals).
This sign does not quite tell the whole story - every leg of this intersection is notionally part of Mex. 16! Confused? Carreteras federales lose uniqueness in routing when they pass through built-up districts - probably because the designations do not exist, as such, within cities, and it becomes a question of using route signing within the urban area to guide through traffic along any one of multiple routes to the resumption of the highway as it proceeds to its next principal destination. At this junction, the right-hand leg is a partial bypass of Aldama, while built-up Aldama itself is behind the camera. Also note the use of topes, or steel hemispheres, as part of the delineation in the center of the roadway.
This sign is being used to initiate a contraflow operation just outside urban Chihuahua - Mex. 16 makes a scenic approach from the east through some steep hills.
Mexico combines guide signs and traffic signals on cantilevered overhead structures quite often in urban areas. The black-on-white bottom panel has the name of the cross street.