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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.

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.

If 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)

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