WHAT EXIT? State to change exit numbers on Route 8, then other highways

Shelton residents will have to get used to exit numbers other than 11 through 14 to get off in their hometown on Route 8.

That’s because the state has announced it will begin using exit numbers on its highways based on mileage rather than using consecutive numbers.

The change will be a gradual process, but Route 8 is slated to be perhaps the second or third highway in line for the change in Connecticut.

The new system will be implemented based on the regular maintenance schedule to replace exit and entrance signs due to aging.

“The existing signs [on Route 8] are at the end of their useful life,” with declining reflectivity and readability, said Kevin Nursick, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation (DOT).

The new exit numbers on Route 8 could take effect in 2018 or 2019. “It’s early still — we’re not even in the design phase yet,” Nursick said.

Two-year transition period

For about two years, the old exit numbers also will be displayed to provide a transition period. This should help businesses — especially retail operations that often refer to nearby exit numbers in publicity material — adjust to the new system.

Bill Purcell, president of the Shelton-based Greater Valley Chamber of Commerce, said he supports any approach that would make exit numbers easier to comprehend.

“There can be confusion with exit numbers now, so anything that would help alleviate that and makes it less confusing would be good,” Purcell said.

Currently on some Connecticut highways, exit numbers can be skipped because the exit exists only in one direction.

Common system elsewhere

Most states already use mileage to determine exit numbers, although the consecutive system remains prevalent in much of the Northeast, particularly New England.

“Most states switched over to this years ago,” Nursick said. “This is a more intuitive, logical, consistent numbering system.”

Because drivers are used to the mileage exit systems used elsewhere in the country, he said, “we don’t expect any confusion ... I don’t think the motoring public will have any trouble adjusting."

The federal government is mandating that all states eventually change to the mileage exit system, and failure to do so could put the state’s share of highway funding in jeopardy. “It’s a federal requirement,” Nursick said.

The first highway expected to be changed is I-395 in eastern Connecticut, then I-95 and Route 8. It could take up to 20 years to replace the exit signs on all the state’s limited access highways.

Nursick pointed out that the state won’t be spending extra money on the change, since the exit signs and their support poles need to be changed anyway.

New numbers

With the new system, the exit numbers will be based on mileage from the beginning of a highway, either at the state border or at an intersection.

It’s unclear where the Route 8 exit numbers will begin because Route 8 and Route 25 are the same highway when they begin at Interstate 95 in Bridgeport (this initial stretch of the two highways is called the “Route 8/25 connector”).

If they should start at the I-95 intersection, based on a Wikipedia chart, the new Route 8 exit numbers in Shelton are likely to be:

— Exit 7  (lower Bridgeport Avenue/Huntington Road)

— Exit 9  (Old Stratford Road)

— Exit 11  (Constitution Boulevard South)

— Exit 12  (Howe Avenue).