Make custom, instant maps at NDOT

In the Nevada Department of Transportation Building at 1263 S. Stewart St., there are thousands and thousands of standard maps of Nevada.

There is also an unlimited stock of maps not yet printed. And they are on waterproof, crinkle-resistant, tear-resistant plastic "paper" that can be folded and unfolded without crease marks.

In a kiosk that that takes up about 4 square feet, anyone can print out a map of any place in the United States to his or her precise specifications, with or without color shading for just $8.

"It's easy," said Michael J. Turner, chief cartographer for the department, turning to the tall machine at the counter of the map room. "Just punch the key, and it shows you a map of the United States.

"Touch the state on the screen you want a map of ... say, Nevada."

He touches the screen, and Nevada comes up. He touches Carson City, and a map of Carson City appears.

"Say you wanted to see more of Carson City to the north," Turner says. He touches one side of the screen, and the map moves so more of the north is shown. "Up a little?" He touches the top of the map, and the picture moves up.

"Want a UTM (Universe Transverse Mercator) grid on it?" He touches another key, and the grid appears.

"Want to see how the map will print out since we're just seeing a section of the finished map?" He touches the print preview button, and a complete version of the finished 11-by-17-inch map appears.

Then the $8 question: "Print it out?" he asks and presses the button.

About two minutes later, the map rolls out of the kiosk. It's on heavy Adventure Paper that takes punishment. Contour lines are printed in green, urban areas in purple. Hobart Reservoir is blue. The siphon supplying water from Hobart to Virginia City is marked in black dashes as it snakes its way under Highway 395.

A box at the bottom of the map shows nine 7.5-minute blocks, and the map is cuts across two of the blocks.

"That's an advantage to tailoring a map to your specifications," explains Turner. "In the past, you'd have to buy two maps to show the area on this one map. By tailoring it to your exact needs, you can get by with one."

The NDOT map room also houses regular preprinted maps of Nevada in varying scales. Cartographer Tim Hamilton can pull out a 1910 map of the Washoe Valley that shows the old V&T rail line paralleling Highway 395.

"We're fairly seasonal here," says Hamilton. "In the fall, we get a lot of hunters wanting maps for their game-management areas. In the spring, a lot of backpackers planning treks. And in between, builders and developers on business projects."

While most of NDOT's customers are looking for Nevada maps, the kiosk has the software for printing any U.S. Geological Survey map of the United States. The map room also offers PC software for do-it-yourselfers who want to print out maps from home computers.

"We'll also have the Adventure Paper in stock for home use," Hamilton said.

The kiosk is leased from through the National Geographic Society. National Geographic has 100 kiosks across the nation and expects that number to reach 150 by year's end.

Updates next year include the ability to overlay information on maps such as game-management units.

"Hunters often have a hard time in Colorado and elsewhere in the West in knowing just where their hunting license permits them to hunt. By putting the information on maps, they'll be able to know exactly where to go," says Mike Dyer of the National Geographic offices in Evergreen, Colo. "We'll also be adding overlay information on hiking trails and campsites on maps printed at kiosks.

"And the public seems to love the kiosks," Dyer said.


What: Kiosk computer that prints do-it-yourself maps of sections of Nevada and the United States.

Where: Nevada Department of Transportation, Room 206, 1263 S. Stewart St., Carson City

When: 7:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. weekdays

Cost: $8 per map


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