Sign Shop


Distance Based Interchange Numbering

This design is recommended for statewide application.

Exits By Milepost

In a recent article in the Utica Observer-Dispatch (link to article) there was mention of the need for interchange numbering along the freeway portion of NY Route 5S in Herkimer County. While I don't agree with the exit numbers recommended by the woman that performed the study mentioned in the article, I do agree that NYSDOT needs to take the initiative to number interchanges along non-Interstate freeways in The Empire State. I believe this is going to be addressed by NYSDOT when they bring existing sign installations into National MUTCD with NYS Supplement compliance over the next several years.

This is addressed in the National MUTCD with NYS Supplement:

Section 2E.28: Interchange Exit Numbering
Support: Interchange exit numbering provides valuable orientation for the road user on a freeway or expressway. The feasibility of numbering interchanges or exits on an expressway will depend largely on the extent to which grade separations are provided. Where there is appreciable continuity of interchange facilities, interrupted only by an occasional intersection at grade, the numbering will be helpful to the expressway user.

Standard: Interchange numbering shall be used in signing each freeway exit. Interchange exit numbers shall be displayed with each Advance Guide sign, Exit Direction sign and Gore sign. The exit number shall be displayed on a separate plaque at the top of the Advance Guide or Exit Direction sign. The standard exit number plaque shall include the word EXIT, the appropriate exit number and the suffix letter (on multi-exit interchanges) separated from the exit number by a space in a single-line format on a plaque 750mm (30 in) in height. Exit numbers shall not include the cardinal initials corresponding to the directions of the cross route. Minimum numeral and letter sizes are given in Tables 2E-1 through 2E-4 (not included in this text). If used, the interchange numbering system for expressways shall conform to the provisions prescribed for freeways.

NYS Supplement Addendum:
Support: New York currently uses consecutive exit numbering on freeway and expressway interchanges. New York expects to eventually adopt a reference location exit numbering system and discontinue the use of cardinal directions suffixes as part of the exit number in favor of a suffix letter (e.g. A, B, C, etc.)

Guidance: Interchanges should be numbered consecutively, with numbers reserved for future planned interchanges. Multi-exit interchange letter suffixes should be the first letter of the cardinal direction of travel accessible from each exit (N, S, E, W).

I have mentioned before that there are many instances in New York where interchange numbering should be employed though it currently is not, including (among others not listed):

Within the Empire State the general public has the tendency to use the term "expressway" for both "freeways" and "expressways". "Freeways" are divided highways with full control of access ('exits' or 'interchanges). "Expressways" are divided highways with partial control of access (a mixture of freeway interchanges and at-grade intersections with or without traffic signals).

While the numbering of non-Interstate freeway exits is not addressed in the document entitled "Significant Changes Due to Adoption of National MUTCD & NYS Supplement", I believe there is enough interest from motorists to warrant the numbering of interchanges as mandated by the National MUTCD.

I'm assuming that the NYS Supplement modification to the National MUTCD on this subject is to avoid an immediate renumbering of all the existing interchanges (to remove the cardinal direction suffixes) in New York. However, if NYSDOT (and the Thruway Authority, if ever applicable) is going to number interchanges that have never been numbered before then it is foolish to number them consecutively, only to have them be renumbered sometime in the future, especially since there is a bill (as of date at bottom of this page) currently in the State Senate mandating a change to the distance based exit numbering scheme that is found in 42 other states.

There may be some confusion on motorists in The Empire State if some new freeways and expressways, and those with new interchange numbers, have exits numbered by milepost or distance while the existing interstates have their interchanges numbered consecutively. I believe this issue can easily be addressed with this recommended sign panel:

Exits By Milepost

By posting this sign at regular intervals along a newly numbered freeway or expressway, the motorist will be reminded that the interchange numbering scheme used is not sequential but rather by distance. In fact, this sign could be used as an educational plaque once New York begins the conversion process to distance based numbering.

For further information, please take a look at the Renumber New York website.

Related Sign Shop recommendations include this design and this design to be used during the renumbering project.