lights on highway

As if 2020 has not been enough upheaval in all of our lives, the state of Massachusetts has started a much anticipated exit number change on state highways. That means the exit number you have seen your entire life are about to drastically change. Haven’t heard about the changes yet? Don’t worry, you aren’t alone. 

In order to comply with a 2009 federal mandate, the state of Massachusetts will begin dropping the sequential numbering system it currently uses on highways and will begin to transition to mileage-based exit numbers in October 2020. In order to maintain federal funding, the last three states who need to switch to this number system, Massachusetts, Delaware, and New Hampshire will be starting the transition. 

car driving down the road

How the Transition Will Take Place

Drastically renaming exits from Pittsfield to Boston could be rather confusing at first. Think about it. The original Mass Pike Exit 17 (once located in Newton) will soon revert to Exit 127. There is bound to be some lost motorists and arguments about asking for directions. 

If the first thing that jumps to your mind when you hear this news of exit number changes is, “This will be chaotic,” stay calm and read on. 

Thankfully the state has anticipated reactions such as this and made a plan to ease confusion. There is actually a transition period that will accompany this major change to our Massachusetts exit off-ramps and on-ramps. 

According to a report in the Boston Herald quoting the Massachusetts Department of Transportation, these changes that will impact the exit numbering system on all highways crisscrossing the commonwealth will have a two year transition period where every exit will have both the old exit number along with the new exit number. 

In addition, the state has compiled an interactive chart that can help residents and visitors acquaint themselves with the new numbers before they even set out on the road. Check out the link here for your new exit numbers. 


Why Was this Change Necessary? 

That is a really good question and one that commuters will probably be asking as their GPS and Google Maps get stumped by exit numbers over the next few months. 

Other than meeting a federal mandate and ensuring that federal funding will continue for our transportation systems here in Massachusetts, the numbering system has a specific purpose. The mileage-based exits allows for drivers to quickly determine distances to destinations since each exit is counted in miles rather than sequentially. 

Most importantly, this new numbering system based on miles allows for more accurate emergency vehicle responses and allows for new exits to be added without renumbering. 

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation anticipates a minimal impact on traffic as crews begin to replace the old signs with new exit numbers. Leave us a note in the comments or on our Facebook page about how you are handling these exit number changes.