No More Exit 17

Most states number interstate exits based on mileage from a starting point — the border, say, or the start of a highway.

Connecticut is one of the few that still uses consecutive numbers.

It’s debatable which system is best. Would you rather know how far the next exit is, or just count them up (or down)?

What’s not debatable is that the Federal Highway Administration decided 5 years ago that the mileage system is best.

So Connecticut must change.

Exit numbers will change. Traffic won't.

Exit numbers will change. Traffic won’t.

Fortunately — unlike most government mandates — there is no deadline. The switch will be made gradually, as — the Hartford Courant reports — “existing highway signs wear out.”

I was not sure how that actually happens — highway signs are not hearts, transmissions or marriages — but the paper helpfully explains that reflective surfaces fade, and supports grow old.

I’m also not sure how that will work, in reality. Exit 17 on I-95 is about 20 miles from the New York border, so that will probably be Exit 20. Exit 18 would be Exit 21. But what about all those exits in places like Stamford and Norwalk that are jammed together? Will they be Exit 6.5, 6.7 and 6.8?

The switchover will be made on all limited access highways, including (presumably) the Merritt Parkway. So the fact that there was never an Exit 43 (Greenfield Hill residents took care of that, 80 years ago) will no longer be an anomaly.

TurnpikeIf you don’t like change, don’t worry. (And by “don’t like change,” I mean all of you who still call I-95 “the turnpike.”) It may not happen for 20 years.

And for the first 2 years after that, markers will show the old exit numbers too.

If you really want something to worry about, I have one word for you: “tolls.”

(Hat tip: Matt Mandell)

22 responses to “No More Exit 17

  1. It’s NOT the turnpike?

  2. Yes, let’s move the deck chairs around. Maybe only the bow will sink.

  3. Exit 43 DOES EXIST – Musically, on CD Baby:


    Very deftly written Dan

    Sent from my iPhone


  5. There is money to be made changing the signs. Someone is looking forward to a nice payday.

  6. Chris Weissman

    I’ve lived in states with mile markers as exits and I prefer it. It’s a better indicator of how far you have to go to reach your destination. My guess us the Stamford exits will be given numbers and letters (e.g. Exist 7A, 7B etc.)

  7. If it costs money, CT will drag its heels.

  8. Michael Calise

    O. K. NOW will exit 17 be 20 as in 20 mi from the New York border and on the south side exit 120 as in 120 miles from the RI border. Was this an executive order?

  9. Scott E. Brodie

    A farmer has 3 horses, and 4 cows. If you call the cows horses, how many horses does he have? Answer: 3. Calling a cow a horse does not make it a horse. The same applies to the “missing” exit 43. The extended distance between the easternmost exit in Westport and the westernmost exit in Fairfield will remain an anomaly, even after the sequential exit numbers are replaced by mile numbers. — Scott.

  10. Athena Ploumis Bradley.
    Leave it as it is !
    I think Mr. Petrino is closest to the mark .

  11. Ernie Lorimer

    Oddly, I95 in CT isn’t far off. 91 exits over 107 miles.

    Also, N/S exits are always numbered from south to north, so if exit 17 becomes 20, it will also be 20 southbound. It’s somewhat asymmetric, so traveling south, you always know how many miles to the next state; traveling north you don’t unless you know in advance how many miles to start. IF that is useful information.

    Still, an alleged improvement that is now itself obsolete given the prevalence of GPS in phones.

  12. Elizabeth Thibault

    If they’re not replacing signs until they “wear out,” what happens when the new sign for an exit needs to be replaced before the exit that already exists with that number needs to be replaced? For example, if Exit 17 needs to be replaced before Exit 20, what is their solution, so we don’t have 2 Exit 20’s? If the existing Exit 20 is updated at the same time as Exit 17, doesn’t this just start a cascade of replacements? We’ll also face the possibility of misordered exits, such as Exit 20 being situated between 16 and 18.
    The new system makes sense, but I hope it’s well planned for before they actually implement the changes.

  13. Bobbie Herman

    I live about a mile away from where Exit 43 would have been. There were two reasons why it was not built. The first is that Redding Road, the proposed exit street, is not a state highway such as Routes 33, 42, 58, etc. where all the other Merritt exits are. The second is that the surrounding area contains massive amounts of wetlands. That is why the area has never been developed.

    • According to Friends of Sherwood Island: “Local opposition prevented the construction of Exit 43.”

      And this, from a newsgroup site: “There was quite a lot of trepidation
      > in the planning and building stages that the parkway would loose the
      > masses onto the bucolic estates of Fairfield County. Any exits not
      > connecting directly with state highways had to be approved and
      > contributed to by local towns. Fairfield in this area said no.
      > This info from Bruce Radle’s excellent “The Merritt Parkway” (Yale U.
      > Press, 1993), which I recommend to anyone familiar with the highway.
      > One of the best books on a highway I’ve seen.

      • Dan — partially true. There was local opposiiton to Exit 43, but there were hardly any “bucolic estates” in the area. Now, of course, there are McMansions everywhere, but at the time of the Merritt construction in 1935, the immediate area was primarily farmland. Any houses were relatively small. My own house was built in 1950 and is a 2500 SF ranch. The subdivision was built on a farm, and there are still a couple of barns in the area. Redding Road, which was the designated exit, is still a narrow, winding two lane road. It is still bucolic but I don’t recall seeing any estates on it.

        • By the way, in my first post, I meant Route 57, which is at exit 42, not Route 42. But I’m sure you knew that.

  14. Dear Dan,

    I am laughing out loud over this post.

    My first part-time job was at a women’s clothing store called Exit 18 Fashion Finds – in the strip mall just across from the connector, which also (at that time) housed a Radio Shack, just next to the Clam Box. This was in 1981, I think.

    Anyway, I referred to the store as “No Exit 18” because — thanks to Al Pia at Staples — I was all-too aware of the Sartien reference to Life in Hell. I wonder if anyone ever took the time to photograph that strip?

    All best from OKC,

    Cathy Webster (Burr Farms, Coleytown JHS, and Staples ’83) ________________________________________

  15. As I always say, This will happen “as soon as we switch to the metric system” and “when they complete the 2nd Ave subway”

  16. Tristan McGregor

    The mile markers would be only for Connecticut’s borders, starting at the New York state line and ending at the Rhode Island state line.
    Exit 17 would become Exit 18. Exit Exit would become Exit 20.
    See Exit List on this article:

  17. So if I understand this correctly, the parkway and the turnpike are going to have similarly numbered exits across all of Fairfield county?

    I’m sure that’s not going to confuse anyone.

  18. Dan, will you please explain your aside to Killian Higgins and me? It’s not the turnpike? I’m always going back and forth between saying “the Thruway” or “the Turnpike”, and you’re saying neither is correct? It seems so cold to say “I-95″ since that highway goes on forever up and down the East Coast. So can you please choose the Connecticut Thruway” or the “Connecticut Turnpike” for us to use? I trust your investigation. 🙂