The Rhode Island Department of Transportation said it will
begin a highway exit renumbering program in late autumn for its interstate and other limited-access highways, starting with the entire I-295 corridor from Warwick to Cumberland at the Massachusetts border.
The announcement noted that Rhode Island and some of its neighboring New England states are among the last in the nation to key its exit numbers to mile markers, as required by the Federal Highway Administration's Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways, and that this is a system "that the traveling public has now come to expect."
Instead RIDOT has traditionally assigned its highway exit numbers sequentially.
"This project will bring us in line with the rest of the country and provides more information to travelers about their location and distance to their destinations," said RIDOT Director Peter Alviti.
RIDOT explained that a mile-marker numbering system lets drivers know how far they need to travel to reach their desired off-ramps. It also allows for easier expansion for future interchanges, it added, since the signs along the entire highway would not have to be renumbered to accommodate a new exit number.
RIDOT said it will reach out to communities, businesses and organizations in the I-295 corridor to notify them of the change, and will contact electronic mapping companies to inform them of the new exit numbers.
The agency has also
created a new web page for this project, which includes an interactive map showing both the new and old exit numbers for I-295.
RIDOT said that when it installs the new exit number signs it will also install temporary signs giving the old exit number.
The Providence Journal reported that "the transition plan calls for keeping the old exit numbers with the new ones for at least a year to help motorists adjust."
It said that same approach has been employed by state DOTs elsewhere, and that the sign design with both new and old numbers is currently in place along I-395 in neighboring Connecticut.
RIDOT said it will also assign exit numbers to Route 99 from Route 146 in Lincoln to Mendon Road in Cumberland, and on Route 146 from the I-95 interchange in Providence to the Massachusetts border in North Smithfield. Previously, those highways did not have exit numbers.
And RIDOT is developing schedules for its continued renumbering of highways to a mile-marker system, noting that the project will include I-95 and I-195, as well as Routes 4, 10, 24, 37, 78, 403 and the Airport Connector.