Bay area residents simply say, “take I5 until...” but anyone in LA on down tells you to take “the” 5 (or the 405, whatever).
I’m not sure how both became cemented semantics in both regions, but they seem to persist. We’ve lived in northern California long enough that I don’t think I say “the 5” anymore but it may slip out since we lived 6 years in La Jolla.
To side with the north, we don’t say Easter the Bunny, but in fairness to the south, it is Smokey the Bear. Go figure!
What prompted all of this random thought was a funny phrase in an email from our RS President that began with “I just talked to the Bishop Walton.” I’m sure she meant to say “I just talked to the Bishop” OR “I just talked to Bishop Walton” but the two came together and it cracked me up.
There I was reading “the Bishop Walton” having a great laugh with no one to share in the humor. It’s funny, we always refer to “the bishop” or “bishop so-and-s0” but it’s never “the Bishop so-and-so.” Or, for that matter, the same thing goes for “the stake president.” However, the Stake President Knudsen will probably appreciate the fact I find all of this funny (he just wasn’t home).
Meanwhile, my three children, Andie (nor cal resident), the Webb and the Paige (both currently so cal) can all confirm whether the Interstate phraseology is true where they reside (Palo Alto, the LA, and the OC).