Antelope Freeway is here

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Last year the Rhode Island Department of Transportation announced that state and federal highway entrances and exits would be renumbered, under a new federal standard, to reflect not sequence but proximity to highway mile markers. I argued that this was absurd, and that changing the numbers would not serve the driving population. Today, traveling down to North Kingstown on Route 4, I found that the program had been implemented and immediately located an example of its absurdity.

All the signs had the new exit numbers, along with smaller signs reminding drivers of the old numbers. Exit 7 was now Exit 6, Exit 6 was Exit 5. I thought Exit 5 would be Exit 4 – but no, it was Exit 3. There was no Exit 4. But not long before I reached the new Exit 3, I passed the mile marker. It said “4 mi.” Supposedly the exit was four miles from the Route 95/Route 4 split. Why didn’t they rename it Exit 4 instead of Exit 3? I guess the governor will appoint a committee to find the answer. While they’re at it, how many dollars did it cost to rename the exits, attach the new exit numbers, and also attach signs reminding people of the old exit numbers. However low the dollar figure is, it is far too high.

Last year in a post called “Antelope Freeway, 1/8 miles,” I mocked the state’s ridiculous new exit recalculaton & naming program by alluding to Firesign Theater’s hilarious skit, “Antelope Freeway,” about a guy listening to his radio as he tries out his new car. Here it is. Ha ha.

About David Brussat

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 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 employ my writing and editing to improve your work, 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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4 Responses to Antelope Freeway is here

  1. Anonymous says:

    Once you get used to it, it makes travel easier as you can tell how far you are from the Waffle House advertised on that billboard.

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  2. Anonymous says:

    Georgia did this about 15 or 20 years ago. It seemed to make no sense at the time, as I lived in a rural area with no new exits needed….in fact we had too many because a state senator owned the land where the interstate came through, but in hindsight, the renumbering eliminated scenarios where you have a growing city (Atlanta) with Exit 103A, 103B, 103C, 103D etc…..all strung out over 5 miles because they had to add exits between Exit 103 and 104.

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  3. Robert Coffey says:

    While I grew up in Rhode Island, I’ve lived in the Midwest for nearly 14 years. Exit numbers on freeways here are based on the distance from the point of origin or (in the case of highways that cross state lines) the point at which the highway enters the state. We live closest to Exit 177 on I-94 in Michigan. Visitors traveling to our community from east or west can therefore easily determine how much further they’ll need to travel, without the use of a GPS (which these numbering systems obviously predate). While I’d prefer we joined the rest of the world in adopting the metric system, these new mile-based exit numbering systems represent progress of a sort. Seen in this light, sequential numbering is pretty useless. Rhode Islanders have been giving directions using long-gone landmarks for decades. I’m confident they’ll easily adapt to this.

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    • James Kabala says:

      I don’t think it would make any sense to impose sequential numbers on the Midwest either. Why not let every state or region keep the system it is used to?

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