Quote: Originally Posted by FiveParadox
I thought that the United States had switched to the metric system, formally?
United States abandons metrication
A revealing report appeared in The Daily Telegraph on 30 June, by its Washington correspondent, Ben Fenton, headlined: "US prefers an imperial past to a metric future". We would have preferred "an imperial future to a metric past", but what followed was very good news. We quote:
"America is rapidly abandoning metric weights and measures, having decided that people prefer the imperial system.
Louisiana, Missouri and Illinois scrapped kilometres on road signs last Easter, bringing to 18 the states that have reverted to miles.
Fairfax County, Virginia, yesterday reverted to feet and inches in building codes, dropping its rule that plans had to be submitted in metres and centimetres.
'It's a small victory but a great victory', said Seaver Leslie, director of a lobby group called Americans for Customary Weights and [Measures].
'The latest attempt to impose this unnatural system on us has been a fizzle, a failure and an expensive flop.'
After spending at least $70 million (£46 million) on abandoning the old ways, it seems likely that all states will soon throw out the new. Congress tacitly removed the five words mandating the use of metric measures in federal contracts last year. ...
Shell Oil has already felt the costs of American public ambivalence to the litre. In 1989 it spent tens of millions of dollars converting petrol pumps to metric, only to find its customers leaving in droves and having to spend tens of millions more changing back to imperial."
Compulsory metrication ended
As a result of the Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century (TEA-21), which was signed into law on 9 June 1998, "the American highway industry's on-again, off-again love/hate relationship with metric is on the rocks. After years of training, arm-twisting and missed or extended deadlines, obligatory metrication of the federal highway program is dead as a doorknob. Section 1211 of TEA-21 eliminates the Sept. 30, 2000 date for states to convert to metric." (Tom Kuennen, Expressways Publishing Project.)
The following month the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials published the results of a survey of metric conversion intentions, and received comments which included the following (states indicated by two-letter codes):
· "Since the public, most industries, and many government agencies are not converting, it is difficult to justify the highway industry going metric since the majority of our customers are not changing. Our customers are the public, contractors, material suppliers, real estate operations, environmental agencies, highway signs, etc." (NC).
· "Weights and loads are still on English units because it is more convenient when dealing with large quantities." (PR).
· "We are doing a recent State funded program in English units. Contractors have indicated metric increases costs by 5% — politics maybe involved." (OK)
· "Several recent actions have resulted in a decision to end the Department's conversion to the metric system and return to the use of customary (English) units for all future improvement projects. First, the recent passage of the national transportation legislation (TEA-21) made the metric conversion optional instead of required. Second, at a recent meeting, representatives of town, village, city and county governments were unanimous in opposition to using the metric system and strongly encouraged us to drop its use. Third, Wisconsin contractors (as represented by WTBA) are opposed to working with two systems and have noted that many local and/or private projects are still being prepared using customary units. Fourth, some construction material suppliers have not converted and the field conversions between systems is causing problems. Fifth, a survey in January 1998 of WisDOT designers indicated there are only minor efficiencies gained using the metric system." (WI)
Our friend Bob Jones from Washington DC kindly sent us cuttings from the US press.
One article, "Iowans Nix Metric Signs", reported: "Metric doesn't make the grade. State Department of Transportation officials in Iowa said 'Forget it!' to the Fed's preference for the metric system, and switched back to the standard system of feet, yards and miles. Congress passed legislation last June upholding a state's right to choose either system but, according to Iowa's DofT, after a five-year process trying to go metric, Iowans have had enough."
The Washington Times of 28 June states that, "According to Federal Highway Administration statistics, 21 states have reverted to English units of measure in the past two years." This movement back has accelerated in the last couple of months.
It also reports that, "Dozens of Internet pages are devoted to metric horror stories and pro-English-unit rhetoric: 'Don't let unelected, unaccountable bureaucrats and careless, unresponsive legislators sacrifice it under the steamroller of world "harmonization",' writes the author of a Web page called Freedom2Measure."
Of course, this rejection of metric units by the U.S. will hardly deter promoters of metrication in Britain from continuing to assure us that the U.S. is accelerating its own metrication programme!
users.aol.com/footrule/usaband.htm (external - login to view)