Massachusetts highways are getting a new look — one that will change how drivers experience the roads.
Starting this month, highway exit signs will begin changing from their current sequential numbers to a mileage-based system, the state secretary of transportation reported to the Department of Transportation Board last month.
"One of the reasons it was put in place to begin with is, especially for the trucking industry, if you're on a long haul and you know you need to exit say 125 and you're currently at exit 100, you know you have 25 more miles to go," MassDOT Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver said.
The move was first announced last year to bring the Bay State in line with federal highway requirements. Failure to implement the mandated mileage-based system could result in a loss of federal funding. Massachusetts isn’t the last state to make the switch, but it’s among them.
"Maybe it’s a New England thing and Massachusetts in particular, we don’t like change," Gulliver said. "People get pretty attached to their exit numbers and don’t want to see it changed."
Massachusetts natives like Laura Rockwell, who grew up in Walpole, have memorized the exits to take on the highway by number.
"I hate it. I don’t really understand it," Rockwell said of the change. "If I'm going somewhere and I know what exit I'm getting off at, that’s what I look for."
Other residents aren't quite as concerned.
"I don’t think it will be a huge issue. It’ll just take some getting used to," Walpole resident Patrick Grogan said.
Highways won't lose their current exit numbers for at least two years, officials have said. They'll just be listed as "Old Exit #," in black lettering on yellow signage.
The project is expected to run into the summer of 2021, according to officials. Construction work is expected to have a low impact on traffic.
The first work will take place on Sunday, Oct. 18 on State Route 140 between New Bedford and Taunton, according to the state's website for the project, newmassexits.com. Work on Interstate 195 will begin in late October or early November.
The Exit Renumbering Project involves the following highways:
- State Route 3
- State Route 24
- State Route 25
- State Route 128
- State Route 140
- U.S. Route 3
- U.S. Route 6
- Interstate 93
- Interstate 95
- Interstate 195
- Interstate 295
More Coverage on Changes to Mass. Highway Exits
Starting this month, highway exit signs will begin changing from their current sequential numbers to a mileage-based system