When you deal in heavy equipment like we do, you tend to look at things a little differently. From utility work to construction projects, even simple commuting starts to take on a different form, as you notice the vehicles and equipment that are used every day to keep our communities moving forward. And when it comes to Massachusetts construction projects, there’s never any shortage of things going on. Trust us. As the go-to destination for Massachusetts, Connecticut, and Southern New Hampshire searches for ‘Heavy Equipment Dealers Near Me’ and ‘Heavy Equipment for Sale,’ we know what we’re talking about.
But recently, the MassDOT released word of a pretty substantial undertaking. More importantly, it was one that they were asking for everyone’s help in spreading the word about. Some of you have probably already figured out what we’re talking about here, but for the rest of you…
Get Ready to Have Your World Rocked
Just kidding. It’s really not that big of a deal. But HEADS UP, because your highway exit numbers are probably getting changed in the next few years.
That’s right, as part of a federal mandate, the Bay State will be renumbering its exits, changing them from sequential numbering to reflect a mileage-based system. Granted, there are exceptions: namely the Lowell Connector, I-291, I-391, and Route 213, which have been ruled as exceptions based on the evaluation of road length and spacing between exits. Exit numbering on most every other highway, however, will be updated.
What are the Benefits of This Change?
“The conversion to mile-based exit numbers will benefit drivers by providing an obvious and straightforward calculation of driving distances,” said MassDOT Highway Administrator Jonathan Gulliver.
In all fairness, it makes sense, especially when it comes to increasing the straightforwardness of interstate travel on a national level. In fact, every state in the continental U.S. has either implemented, or is already in the process of implementing this change, with the exception of Delaware, which has yet to move forward. In terms of surrounding states, Rhode Island, Connecticut, Vermont, and New York are all in the early stages of the process.
What This Means for Massachusetts Drivers
Not much, if we’re completely honest. First off, drivers native to Massachusetts are likely to have a pretty good idea of where they’re going. And the ones who don’t (or non-native drivers navigating our state) are likely to use GPS-based systems to help them get from Point A to Point B.
Plus, it’s been reported that the ‘New’ Exit Signs (including Recreational signage) will be accompanied by ‘Old’ Exit Signs for up to two years, just to assist drivers in acclimating to the running change.
But in all fairness, it will have an impact wherever printed promotional materials are used to communicate driving instructions – as it will require them to be updated, incurring unplanned expenses. This was actually a key objection voiced by Cape Code residents and business owners back in 2016, when plans were announced to alter exit numbering based on its proximity from the Rhode Island Border.
What Does This Mean for Western Massachusetts Drivers
Well, it means an earlier transition to start. Transportation officials have announced that the changes will begin at the westernmost and southernmost points. To put the changes into context, let’s take a look at Exit 4 westbound on the Mass Pike. That particular exit rests at the 45-mile mark. As such, the Exit number would be changed from 4 to 45, reflecting distance.
What Will the Project Cost?
It’s estimated that completion of this project will cost $2.8 million, 90% of which will be coming from the Federal Highway Safety Improvement Program. In accordance with HSIP funding, the remaining 10% will come thought state highway funds.
What’s the Timetable for This Project
The project is slated to begin during the summer of 2020, and is currently scheduled for completion by Spring 2021 (optimistically by January 1, 2021).
For the benefit of those looking for a quick rundown:
The exit numbers along all interstate highways within Massachusetts shall be converted to a mileage-based system. The plan will include the following provisions:
- (a) As closely as practicable, follow the Federal Highway Administration mileage-based exit numbering system
- (b) Follow the convention that the numbering shall start at the southernmost or westernmost terminus of the interstate highway
- (c) Minimize costs by using existing roadside and overhead signs whenever possible
- (d) For a period of two years, the exit number of each exit prior to such conversion shall also be displayed at each exit
- (e) The mileage-based exit numbering system shall be completed on or before January 1, 2021.
To Read More on This Coming Change…
Or to hear the news directly from the MassDOT themselves, you can visit the ‘Exit Numbering Project’ website here.
What do you think about this change? Do you think it makes sense and benefits MA drivers and visitors alike? More importantly, do you feel it affects your own commute or lifestyle? We want to know, so be sure to leave your comments below.