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Pennsylvania revamps interstate exit numbering system

February 10, 2001|By RICHARD F. BELISLE

Pennsylvania revamps interstate exit numbering system



STATE LINE, Pa. - Pennsylvania is going the way of most states in numbering its interstate exits from a sequential system to one in which the exits are given the number of the nearest mile marker.

Interstate 81 Exit 2 will become Exit 3 because it's three miles from the Maryland line. Exit 9, the last I-81 interchange in Franklin County, will become Exit 24 under the new system.

The state plans to ease into the change gradually with a dual numbering system for the next two years, said Greg Penny, PennDot spokesman in Harrisburg, Pa. The new exit numbers will be installed on top of the exit signs, while the old ones will be placed on a plaque below the sign.

Most states use the mileage-based numbering system. New York and the six New England states are among those with sequential numbering systems, Penny said.

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The 1,250 miles of interstate highway that criss-cross Pennsylvania are interrupted with 380 highway interchanges. Not included is the 514-mile Pennsylvania Turnpike (Interstate 76), the oldest limited-access highway in the nation.

Carl DeFabo, turnpike spokesman in Carlisle, Pa., said I-76 exit numbers will reflect mileage running west to east beginning with Exit 1 on the Pennsylvania-Ohio border.

The turnpike will keep its dual numbering system in place for five years, DeFabo said.

PennDot and the turnpike will begin the new system in mid-May. Penny said the transformation will cost about $3 million.

Bids for the first phases went out last week.

DeFarbo said a mileage-based system makes it easier for travelers to figure distances and be in line with neighboring states. It will also be easier for emergency vehicles to find disaster scenes, he said.

Penny said the tourism and trucking industries lobbied for the change.

Local drivers, more than those passing through, will have a harder time to adjust because they are used to the current system, said Dana Given, executive director of the Greencastle-Antrim Chamber of Commerce.

L. Michael Ross, executive director of the Franklin County Area Development Corporation in Chambersburg, Pa., said the change will be expensive for companies that advertise along the interstates, but will be a boon for the billboard industry.

"Businesses will have the same location but new addresses," Ross said.

Mapmakers and travel brochure printers will also see some extra work.

Jeff Wright, spokesman for Rand McNally in Andover, Mass., publishers of the popular road atlas, said Pennsylvania maps will reflect the new exit numbers in 2002.

"We make about 5,000 changes every year to the road atlas. We'll just put the new numbers into our database."

The new system also means that there won't be an Exit 7 on I-81 in Chambersburg. The controversial proposal to build an exit at Walker Road has pitted conservationist and environmentalists against developers.

If an interchange is built there, it will become Exit 17.

Related story: 15 exits will be affected in Franklin, Fulton counties

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