One page I've updated a few times is Metro Hartford Proposed Freeways, featuring a map of every freeway cancelled in the area since about 1960. It used to reside in the 3di area, but was moved, along with Connecticut 3di's to Connecticut Roads.

The map itself is on its third update, and I thought it would be fun to compare its quality and appearance to the previous maps. The first map was pretty neat when it debuted, but the second map put it to shame; and the third map fixed (and exposed) many flaws in the second. No doubt map #4 will make the third map look just as dated.


At right is part of the first map, created in 1999 using ClarisWorks Paint -- basically a bitmap editor. Numerals were hand-edited from the Carta font. Roads were created with a pen tool either 1 or 2 pixels wide. If a road wasn't right, the recourse was to edit it pixel by pixel or erase the whole thing and start over.

Town lines, interchanges and many local highways are missing.

1999 map
Here, the map was completely redone in Adobe Illustrator. Many advantages are apparent right away: antialiased fonts and lines, interchanges, town lines and town names, and more local detail.

Using multiple layers and objects instead of a single layer of pixels made for more effective editing.

Freeways even have line styles (bordered or multiline effect) as seen on professional maps. However, I didn't know the best technique for doing this, and actually used the paintbrush tool with a color fill and black stroke. If you look closely, some freeways don't have a perfectly smooth stroke or even a constant width (such as I-84 west of SR 501). At the outskirts of the map, freeways would have a rounded end.

Also, I rendered the final image in JPEG, which was silly.

2000 map
Here's the newest map, drawn from the 2000 base, but substantially redone on all layers. There are several improvements:

  • Divided highways and freeways are done using stacked stroke styles in the Appearance palette. This makes it possible to edit them without distorting the style of the lines.
  • Cancelled freeways are represented with dashed lines. I'm not entirely sold on the increased readability compared to solid light gray lines; for very short distances, dashed doesn't work as well as solid. (See SR 501). But dashed lines are the more common practice for proposed but unbuilt roads.
  • Route markers were made a bit smaller, and the font weight decreased, to allow more detail and balance.
  • Interchanges are represented with circles instead of squares to remove the issue of angular orientation. (National Geographic / Mapquest Road Atlas does this.)
  • The alignment of almost every road was rechecked and fixed. To do this, I traced a ConnDOT state highways template by eye. Town lines were fixed too.
  • Town names were hidden in favor of city names to more closely indicate city centers. I had experimented with graphic circles, half-filled circles, etc. to indicate population and city center location; but the circles I tried looked too much like interchanges. I use several font sizes to indicate city importance.

... and, the final map is rendered in PNG instead of JPEG.

2004 map