Antelope Freeway, 1/8 miles

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Cartoon by Mark Anderson. (andertoons.com)

The Journal reported yesterday that Rhode Island plans to renumber all of the exits on its state and federal highways to meet the latest U.S. standard, beginning with Route 295. The new numbering system would number exits not sequentially, with Exit 1 followed by Exit 2 followed by Exit 3, etc., but in reference to mile markers every mile along the highways. For example, the first exit from the beginning of a highway would no longer necessarily be Exit 1 – it might be Exit 2 or Exit 3 depending on whether it is nearest to the 2-mile or the 3-mile marker.

So a sequence of exit signs along a highway might run Exit 2, Exit 5, Exit 7, Exit 12, etc. The old exit numbers will remain posted for about a year after the new exit signs go up. In the Providence Journal’s story “Rhode Island set to renumber all highway exits,” Patrick Anderson writes,

The DOT has not finalized when and in what order the state’s other limited-access highways will get new numbers, but the entire project is expected to be finished by 2020, said agency spokesman Charles St. Martin. The other highways being renumbered are: Routes 95, 195, 4, 10, 24, 37, 78, 403 and the T.F. Green Airport Connector.

Anderson adds:

The logic behind numbering by mile, instead of sequentially, is that it tells drivers the distance to the next exit and allows states to add new exits without having to renumber all the others.

The story does not mention the logic behind the logic for the new exit numbering system, or why signs that read

Exit 7         3 miles

no longer serve the public. Doubtless a committee was formed and assigned to find new and creative methods to expand the federal deficit – I assume all this new signage will be paid for with federal rather than state dollars.

Can’t Rhode Island’s DOT drag its feet on this a little longer? What have they been smoking at the FHA these days?

Antelope Freeway, 1/4 miles … Antelope Freeway, 1/8 miles … Antelope Freeway, 1/16 miles … Antelope Freeway, 1/32 miles …

***

Here are the current and proposed exits for Route 295 North

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About David Brussat

For a living, I edit the writing of some of the nation's leading architects, urbanists and design theorists. This blog was begun in 2009 as a feature of the Providence Journal, where I was on the editorial board and wrote a weekly column of architecture criticism for three decades. Architecture Here and There fights the style wars for classical architecture and against modern architecture, no holds barred. My freelance writing and editing on that topic and others addresses issues of design and culture locally and globally. I am a fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, and a member of the board of the New England chapter of the Institute of Classical Architecture & Art, which bestowed an Arthur Ross Award on me in 2002. I work from Providence, R.I., where I live with my wife Victoria, my son Billy and our cat Gato. If you would like to invest your prose with even more style and clarity, please email me at my consultancy, dbrussat@gmail.com, or call 401.351.0457. Testimonial: "Your work is so wonderful - you now enter my mind and write what I would have written." - Nikos Salingaros, mathematician at the University of Texas, architectural theorist and author of many books.
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6 Responses to Antelope Freeway, 1/8 miles

  1. Anonymous says:

    Georgia did this in the 90’s. I hated it at the time because I had to relearn all the numbers. Now I like it.

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    • Good! I’m sure Rhode Islanders will get used to this, too. But it seems to me that though they are defending it as helping you to figure out how far the next exit is, it really only tells you how far the current exit is from the last exit. I can’t see the reason for it, but maybe there is one. It would be nice if the DOT would try articulating it!

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      • I agree that DOT could articulate the rationale better.

        It’s not just about the next exit, it’s about being able to calculate the distance to any exit. If you’re at I-95 Exit 2 in Hopkinton and you know you have to get off at Exit 26 in Warwick, then you know you have a 24-mile drive ahead of you.

        The rationale about adding new exit numbers makes less sense in Rhode Island. The state already has many A/B/C exits crammed into each mile.

        But two other rationales make better sense: 1) Knowing the mileage between any two upcoming exits also tells you the driving time between the exits. 2) Most of the rest of the country has switched, and so motorists from other states hit Rhode Island and think, “What is this, the New Jersey Turnpike?”

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        • Thanks for your enlightening comment. I think most people traveling on a highway pretty much know how far they have to go. Either they know the terrain or they are travelers who know how far they have to go. But maybe that is helpful under certain circumstances, though sequentiality seems more logical and generally likely to be helpful.

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  2. Exit 6, 7, 9, hike? Oh, more user friendly service from our fed/state government…if we can hold out as a quasi-sanctuary state, then can’t we just ignore this little directive?

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    • I’m sure we can, Nancy, but will we? No, because doing the sensible thing is beyond the capability of government today. Every minute since writing this post I’ve been deluged by new reasons it makes no sense. For example, the exit signs will tell us how far from the last exit (which we don’t need to know) but not how far to the next exit. Good grief!

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