What's Up with That?: CCCP: Think surveying, not Soviet missiles

By Scott Hewitt, Columbian arts & features reporter



What are these street markers that say "CCCP" for? Construction at the intersection? They have been here for months. Speculation about "CCCP" has people wondering about underground Soviet missile silos! CCCP are the Cyrillic letters we used to see on the sides of Soviet military hardware and spaceships. They stood for Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (Soyuz Sovetskikh Sotsialisticheskikh Respublik), and folks who grew up during the Cold War could be forgiven for a little knee-jerk nerves when glimpsing the acronym.

— Robert Trippel, East Minnehaha

Nothing to be nervous about, Robert: No missiles are nearby. Where you see CCCP painted on the pavement in your neighborhood, it stands for Clark County Control Point. Ken Paul, a county surveyor, said staff from the surveyor section of Clark County Public Works "used white paint to mark this point as part of ongoing preparation for road paving next summer." The paving will include an asphalt street overlay as well as new sidewalk ramps that comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act, Paul said.

The "CCCP" is the precise mark over which a surveyor centers a surveying instrument. The surveyor then takes measurements — angles and distances — to features of the landscape such as curbs, sidewalks, fences, storm drains and boundary monuments. Those measurements become the basis of a topographic map that engineers use to design improvements.

"In this case," Paul said, "we need to know the slope of the road to ensure it meets standards for wheelchair access. The paint dots (lead) away from the control point mark where the surveyors have already taken a measurement. This allows them to judge where to take the next measurement.

"The control point is marked with bright paint so county crews and other surveyors can easily find it. It also identifies the agency that created the control point."

Paul said the water-based paint usually washes away in a matter of weeks.

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