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Massachusetts to renumber highway exit numbers so you know how far you are from where you're heading

State officials report Massachusetts will start joining the rest of the country late next summer with a program that will renumber highway exits from the current sequential system to one based on mileage.

The readjustment will start in the western part of the state and head east, until finally there are no more exits to renumber. The current exit numbers will then stay up alongside the old ones for at least two years.

The federal government, which wants the exit numbers changed, will pick up 90% of the cost. The state had initially planned to start the renumbering in 2015.

Map showing the new exit numbers.

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Comments

But what about the MBTA?!?!? wahwahwahwah

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Cue the whining about how a practice that has been the national standard for decades is "stupid" in 3... 2... 1....

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This is a slippery slope to buying beer at convenience stores and using civilian traffic flaggers - think of the children!!!!

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I've heard that this change was coming, I thought, at least five years ago. I wonder what the delay in implementation was (assuming there was actually a delay). I know it's been used on I95 in Maine (including the Maine Pike, of course) for quite some time now (probably getting up to about 20 years, if I recall). So it's not like this idea isn't already used elsewhere in the region.

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The plan from a few years ago involved starting with route 6 on the Cape, but the locals absolutely lost their shit at the idea, and MassDOT withdrew the plan in the face of massive public opposition.

Maine renumbered in 2004. Connecticut and Rhode Island are in progress right now. Massachusetts, New York, Vermont, and New Hampshire are the last holdouts in the country. This is long overdue.

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Yes. Yes they did. I don't know where this is from, definitely NOT the Maine Turnpike. Exit 8 on the Turnpike is either 48 or 52.

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/0tPilBq.jpg)

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Exactly.

The folks on the Cape went nuts in 2016.
https://www.capecodtimes.com/news/20160729/route-6-exit-numbers-status-q...

The contract for the exit number conversion was already issued, and the plan was to change exit numbers on several highways (including I-495 and the Mass Pike) in a series of sign replacement contracts that were pending.

Of course, the state indefinitely postponed the renumbering, and went ahead with the sign replacements with the current exit numbers. They left room on the signs for the new exit numbers. If you are around Haverhill on I-495 or on the pike east of Sturbridge, you will notice the space on the new signs.

The state cowering at the wrath of a few Cape Cod NIMBYs raised the cost of this project.

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I-84 and the Taconic State Parkway are currently in the process of being converted, and plans are to start converting the Northway (I-87) as well. Vermont reportedly has a plan for conversion, but I haven't seen any details yet.

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Yes, I forgot about 84 and the TSP when I wrote that comment... add NY to the list that's converting.

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They started renumbering I-84 back in June. I nearly fainted in shock when I saw the mileage-numbered exits. So if you're going that way to NYC, the exit you want now is 68, not 20. They're also moving away from the old custom of exit letter suffixes denoting the direction of the destination road; i.e. the old exits 16S and 16N for the Taconic State Parkway, south and north respectively, are now 52A and 52B.

Connecticut's "in progress" will take about 20 years. They're only renumbering when they replace old signs on a given highway.

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It will be interesting when CT leaves off the non-continuous sequential numbering on I-95 that was the vestige of the Interstate diverging from the Connecticut Turnpike in southeast CT.

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I don't know how far they've gotten on any of this in NJ.
Parkway has been milepost exit numbers as long as I can remember.
The "free" interstates... (287, 280, 80, 78, 295, 195) - I travel those infrequently. I think at least some of them are numbered for mileposts, but I can't say for sure or how many of them.
The turnpike there will be a job and a half to renumber. Another one that parts of it predate the Interstate system. Parts have no route number, there are spurs, extensions, inner/outer roadways, and different parts have different route numbers. Currently, exit numbering is 1 2 3 4 5 6 6A on the non-numbered route; 7 7A 8 8A 9 10 11 12 13 13A 14 as I-95 (most of that with inner and outer roadways); 14A 14B 14C as I-78 (the Newark Bay Extension); 15W 16W 18W (and an unnumbered exit to the Sports Complex) as I-95 (the Western Spur); and 15E 15X 16E 18E 17 as I-95 (the Eastern Spur)

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NJ is entirely mileage-based except for the Turnpike*, and has been for many years.

(*at least all of the interstates, GSP, and AC Expy are)

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Thank you.
I would have guessed 78 was set, but it's been a while since I was on it, and I'm almost never on the other interstates.
...and the last time I drove the Atlantic City Expressway, my Exit had a dime tollbooth!!

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... and there was some guy getting the heck shot out of him in the next lane.

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If Sonny Corleone had an E-ZPass, he'd still be alive.

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Well, that was Long Island, not NJ.
-
I'd be tempted to chuckle at the memory of the old Mad Magazine panel of Sonny being wiped out by real tollbooth workers for trying to pay with a $50 bill in the Exact Change lane, but it's a particularly bad week for any lighthearted Atlantic City allusions.... This past weekend in South Jersey, five #@%$%*& from Atlantic City went to a high school football playoff game (Pleasantville-Camden) to kill somebody in the stands from Camden that they had a beef with. They wounded their target and two kids. One of the victims, a ten year old boy, died Wednesday.

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Sonny wasn't wiped out, just had his face roughed up.

Godfather: Sonny, what happened to you?

Sonny: I'll only say this. Never give a toll taker a twenty.

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Maryland, NH and Mass are the last hold outs.

Massachusetts has had plans in place for years but deliberately waited until last minute to implement.

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Maryland is mileage-based.

VT, NH, and MA are the last holdouts.

NY, CT, and RI are in the process of converting.

DE is sequential on the interstates around Wilmington, km-based (!) on the DE 1 toll road, and mileage-based on the new US 301 toll road.

A few states have a few random roads that didn't get converted (e.g. I-695 MD, I-664 VA)

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Its a stupid thing to spend money on.

Its 2019, nobody is driving 8 miles by looking at their odometer, which is what the signage thing is supposed to be about.

We have GPS. "Take next exit" Thats all you need.

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Not everybody has a GPS.

Not everybody wants to use a GPS on every trip.

It is very convenient to be able to glance at the side of the highway every 1/10 of a mile and know exactly how far it is to your exit.

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Voting closed 49

Does the state get highway money from the feds? Yup.
Does the state want to continue getting that money? Yes.
Does the state have to do what the feds say to get that money? Yes.

It has been something like 25 years of waiver. Time's up.

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While milepost numbering has been recommended by the Federal Government since the late 1980s, it had not been mandated until the 2009 MUTCD.

But your point is taken - conversion is long overdue.

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Even if it *were* the State's call, "Everyone has GPS" is a truly idiotic argument.

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Ah yes, because blindly trusting GPS never causes problems...

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The feds are paying 90% of the cost. And when I'm in states that use this system, I find it useful being able to know that if I'm at exit 45, exit 100 is 55 miles away - helps me estimate how long it will take.

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I find it useful being able to know that if I'm at exit 45, exit 100 is 55 miles away - helps me estimate how long it will take.

On the pike? Somewhere between 40 minutes and 3 hours depending on what time and day of the week it is.

But yes, as somebody not native to this state, I can't wait for this to get done for all the same reasons.

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I largely agree with your post, but where exactly do the feds get their money?

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to indict the federal governments source of income.

Please try again.

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I was not intending that as commentary on how the federal government generates revenue, I was going for the notion that if its largely federal, not state funding then "we're not spending much on it" is not accurate. Its our tax dollars either way.

I'm on board with the project and the funding for it. But we have to keep in mind that federal funds include our money just as the state's funding does.

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MA taxpayers pay 100% of MA state funding. We pay just a couple of percent of any Federal dollars since the cost is divided among the entire tax-paying population of the U.S. rather than just MA. So we're paying something like 12% of the cost, give or take a bit.

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Blue states pay a disproportionately large share of Federal taxes. MA is 44th in the amount it gets back from the Federal government.

As it turns out, it is red states that are overwhelmingly the Welfare Queen States. Yes, that's right. Red States — the ones governed by folks who think government is too big and spending needs to be cut — are a net drain on the economy, taking in more federal spending than they pay out in federal taxes. They talk a good game, but stick Blue States with the bill.

We should take every crumb offered to us. To reject any Federal bucks is just sending more of our money to those freeloader states.

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But we pay more into Federal taxes than we receive in Federal spending. Just doing some mental math, for every $10 we give the Feds, they give us back $6 or 7. Other states are getting $20 back for the $10 they put in.

https://howmuch.net/articles/federal-budget-receipts-and-expenditures-ac...

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Clearly we aren't using enough federal funds, so let's fix that.

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12% is a nonsensical number, because other states are likely not paying 100% of the cost themselves, meaning we are in fact paying for other states as well with our fed tax dollars. So the original point of "we are paying for it no matter what" still stands.

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A money tree of course

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[renumbering the exits] is a stupid thing to spend money on.

A stupid thing to spend money on was doing it wrong the first time so that we need to redo it now.

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The numbered highway concept was invented in New England. Our route and exit numbering scheme wasn't done "wrong," it was simply done this way first, then someone else came up with a better concept, mileage-based numbering.

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is there really a point to this besides burning money? someones pockets are getting lined......

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Lol yes. Standardization especially in road signage is very helpful in many things but especially in travel. Not everyone on a Mass interstate is from Mass. Using standards means less challenges for travelers.

In general Massachusetts could benefit from more standardization in how they mark the roads. Just putting street signs at every intersection in Boston would be helpful.

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For the love of God someone please come tell Worcester and its surrounding communities that some form of standardization is needed desperately out here. I constantly think I'm speeding or driving too slow. Nothing is marked, oh an intersection with a clear line of sight, at a 90 degree angle? Good luck. No wonder it has such a reputation.

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Are you sure you're from Boston?

intersections of boston

This map brought to you by Barely Maps on Etsy

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If standardization mattered, we'd be using the metric system.

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We probably should be.

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that nearly every other state in the country has been using for some time now.

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When is the last time anyone in Massachusetts used those numbers anyway? As long as the name of the exit is retained, only Google and Siri will be led astray.

Its not like they are moving Dunks locations around randomly - now that would REALLY screw people up!

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Probably moments ago. People I know routinely identify exits by their numbers, excepting only major highway interchanges. My wife almost never knows what the road name is, and always wants the exit number.

Even so, the change to mile numbers is extremely logical. I remember the first time I encountered mile-numbered exits while driving in some other state, and thinking what a good idea it was. It's true that local residents don't care how many miles to their target exit, but out-of-staters usually do, and there's no reason to not accommodate them.

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Many older folks still say "get on 128".

I don't disagree with the change. My dad was a career highway guy in Oregon and he thought it was quaint that MA did it serially rather than by distance. He's been gone almost 9 years now.

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Swirls.. :p

I say "Get onto 128" and I'm not that old. and I'm not a 'native' MA resident, but calling it 95 just sounds off.

I see it as akin to any other 'local name' for a highway like the DC beltway is 395 or Atlanta's Perimeter is I-285.

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Small nitpick: The DC Beltway is 495, not 395. And the eastern half of it also carries 95, after it was cancelled through the District.

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The Seaport as "down by Anthony's Pier 4", the North End as "the Irish neighborhood", and the South End as "Roxbury". Call me old-fashioned!

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It will always be 128 to me.

We don't accept change well. After more than 20 years; folks still think Rte 1 runs thru the City...rather than around it.

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Well, it does run through the City - just not the same way it used to.

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I don't remember the numbers at all - I just say "the Medford Square exit" or "the Leverett Connector exit".

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In Troy Michigan, exit 69 off I-75 is Big Beaver Rd.

That couldn't happen in Massachusetts. Just because.

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Despite having lived in that area for a long time, it wasn't until recently that I learned of the exit number. Know of the road, of course.

If you head south on I-75 into Kentucky, you can see signage for Big Bone Lick, which is conveniently located (you can't make this up) near Beaverlick.

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The Warren Toll Gantry on the MassPike is at 69.78 miles. Not an exit, though.

New numbers (assuming that rounding matters):
Exit 1 - Stockbridge will now be Exit 3
Lee Service Plaza - Exit 9
Exit 2 - Lee ... Exit 11
Blandford Service Plaza - Exit 29
Exit 3 - Westfield ... Exit 40
Exit 4 - West Springfield - Exit 46
Exit 5 - Chicopee - Exit 49
Exit 6 - I-291 - Exit 51
Exit 7 - Ludlow - Exit 55
Exit 8 - Palmer - Exit 63
Exit 9 - Sturbridge I-84 - Exit 78
Exit 10 - I-290/I-395 - Exit 90
Exit 10A - Millbury - Exit 94
Exit 11 - Millbury - Exit 96
Exit 11A - I-495 - Exit 104
Exit 12 - Framham Southborough - Exit 111
Exit 13 - Natick Framham - Exit 117
Exit 14 - Weston I-95 - Exit 123A
Exit 15A/B - I-95 and US 30 - Exit 123B/123C

Etcetera.

Logan Armpit will be Exit 137

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Massachusetts_Turnpike

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Universal Exit 37 I guess. Always knew no matter what N_S road you were on that 37 meant you were in Woburn and could connect to the OTHER major interstate. Now it'll be different on each road.
Consider my mind melted.

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When Route 128 was considered the main highway in Boston, all exits on other highways leading to Route 128 were numbered with Exit 25 as the main exit. Three highways - MA 3 to Cape Cod, MA 24 to Rhode Island, and US 3 to New Hampshire - used that scheme until the late 1970s/early 1980s.

US 3 still uses the Exit 25 = Route 128 scheme today, with exits increasing northbound. MA 3 and MA 24 were peculiar in that their exit numbers increased, rather than decreased, southbound from Route 128; then they changed to the current scheme of exits increasing northbound (MA 3 from Sagamore, MA 24 from the state line at Fall River).

All of Route 128 had exits from 9 in Gloucester to 69 in Braintree (then the Southeast Expressway/Pilgrim's Highway split, now I-93/MA 3) but had those exits changed wholesale in the mid-1980s when I-95 was rerouted onto Route 128 from Canton to Peabody; the I-95 exits superseded the Route 128 exits. I-93 found the same fate - they were renumbered once I-93 was extended southward to Canton. The only exits that weren't touched are from Gloucester to Peabody (exits 9 through 28).

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As far as I can tell, it was exit 37 on 128 before renumbering as well.

BUT, it looks like, if they fudge the rounding a little bit, it could be exit 28 (or 29) on both roads

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I suspect this will go better than the renumbering that was done in the 70's. I'm pretty certain that's when it was, but I don't remember if it was just on 128/95 or on 93 as well. I just recall cousins from the western part of the state commenting on it when they came for the annual family Christmas get together.

Anyone else remember that effort?

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in 1985 and 1986, and replaced the original Route 128 exit numbers between Braintree and Peabody with appropriate numbers for I-95 and I-93.

As memory serves, there wasn't and major confusion about the change after the first couple of weeks, especially as signs indicating the old exit numbers were posted.

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Thanks!

It was an issue for people who didn't drive in the area that often and were working off of directions from previous years. That's all.

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(duplicate comment)

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Wasn't that the (Exit) "25 is 128" idea?

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This is pretty much how the entire rest of the country, outside the Northeast, numbers exits today. It is exceedingly helpful to be able to tell, at a glance, about how far it is to your exit -- even without GPS. If you're at Exit 40 and plan to get off at Exit 69 ;) then you know you've got about 30 miles to go.

On the Pike, the next exit could be in a mile or it could be in 30 miles. Numbering sequentially isn't a helpful system for drivers who aren't familiar with an area.

And despite all the hue and cry, after a couple of years (and there will be "Old Exit XX" signs) even the locals will be used to the new numbers.

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The fact that Exit 17 off the Pike (Newton/Watertown) will now be Exit 128 is sure to cause endless confusion for new-to-towners. Nice work.

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No.

"New-to-towners" don't have unresolved issues about 128. They'll do better than you.

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Be of good cheer, on Route 2 exit 128 will be for I-95.

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On the rare occasion when a new exit is added, we don't have exit 14A that is five miles up the road from Exit 14B.

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It saves money too in the long run. When you add a new exit, you just make a sign for the mile marker, vs trying to 'fix' numbering every decade

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It's still 128 though, right?

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.

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Most every other state uses this system. And, shockingly, it makes SENSE!

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Next thing you know, our major thoroughfares will be able to accommodate box trucks.

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Why would you want box trucks on the Emerald Necklace? Next thing you know we'd be driving on driveways and parking on parkways. Somethings make too much sense to change.

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Yes, it's a standard. It's a DUMB standard.

As of now, there are two frames of reference: if you want miles, there are mile markers every 2/10ths of a mile. The other frame of reference is the number of exits before yours.

I would much rather know I'm taking the third exit than some unknown number of miles before that exit. The number of miles means nothing to me, and is hard to keep track of. The number of exits is very easy. (4 being easier to keep track of, than say, 37) In doing this, they are reducing two ways of keeping track of your location down to one.

Talk about solving a problem you don't have.

(And do NOT get me started on that awful replacement for Highway Gothic...)

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This is the most completely ass-backward way of looking at the question of "how far to the exit" that I can imagine.

I would much rather know I'm taking the third exit than some unknown number of miles before that exit.

Really? You'd rather know how many arbitrarily-spaced features will pass than exactly how many miles are left? 4 is not easier to keep track of than 37, if #s 2 and 3 are right on top of each other, or share an off-ramp. Miss one, and you're likely to be stuck driving to the next one, however far down the road it is, then driving back. If you know your exit is 37, and you're at Exit 25, you can relax for 10 miles. I have to believe you like the current system because you're familiar with all the routes you use, so you don't actually use the exit-number relationships at all.

Roadside mile markers are no use in determining how far to your exit, unless you know what mile the exit is at. You can find that out in various ways, but the only convenient and safe way to do that while you're driving is if the exit number is the mile number.

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This is one of the stupidest arguments I've ever encountered and I would have been extremely disappointed if it hadn't turned up in the comments here.

I would much rather know I'm taking the third exit than some unknown number of miles before that exit.

Thanks for not letting me down.

(PS: It's not "unknown". It's the number of miles between where you are and the exit number. There are signs that tell you the mileage where you are every 1/10 of a mile.)

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Humans are pretty adaptable. You'll get used to it, grumbling all the way of course. But you won't have any choice.

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Talk about solving a problem you don't have.

Yeah!

After all - when you get on the Pike, you stop at the toll booth and ask the friendly clerk what exit you'll need for whatever your destination. He'll tell you the exit number, how far it is, how much the toll will be, point it out on the little oaktag toll ticket where it says all of that, AND smile & say "have a nice day"

Don't forget to check the air in your whitewall tires before setting out and drain the water from your car radiator at night (it's getting down close to freezing in the hills these nights).

Happy Motoring!

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For "oaktag".

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Say 'Hi" to the cashier at the First National for me the next time you stop in to buy groceries.

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(And do NOT get me started on that awful replacement for Highway Gothic...)

Not the same. Although FHWA did issue an Interim Approval allowing states to use Clearview, which was later rescinded and then reinstated (thanks to the Texas Congressional delegation), the Federal Government has never mandated that states switch from Highway Gothic to Clearview for highway signs.

And to put your mind at ease, the current Massachusetts Amendments to the MUTCD expressly forbid the use of alternative fonts such as Clearview on highway signs in this state.

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I'd prefer Comic Sans myself

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I'm cool with it. It'll last us until we switch to metric.

So, how do they handle multiple exits at once (A/B/C?) or non-whole mileage (e.g. exits 1/4 mile apart)?

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Letter suffixes. An exit at mile 10.00 and another at mile 10.25 would be numbered 10A and 10B.

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is now up and running

http://www.newmassexits.com/

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all this drama for exit numbers.... am I the only one who uses the OTHER information on the sign (crossroad names?)

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What would the Pilgrims do?

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I know this post was 6 days ago, but I just mentioned the upcoming exit changes to my wife and said I thought it was a good idea. She lost it and after about 10 minutes of my trying to explain why I thought it was fine, she just told me to stop talking about it because it was making her furious.

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