The Department of Transportation began re-numbering the exits on Interstate 691 Monday as part of a larger, statewide effort to make exit numbers align with mile markers on the highways.
For instance exit 8 at Broad Street in Meriden is now exit 2A, and exit 7 for downtown Meriden is now exit 2B. The old exit numbers will also remain on highway signs for the foreseeable future, according to the state Department of Transportation.
The DOT announced that exit numbering would be revised on Interstate 691 both eastbound and westbound from Middlefield to Cheshire last month.
The changes went into effect on Monday.
The exit number changes on I-691 coincide with an ongoing project that includes resurfacing, drainage upgrades, guiderail replacement, minor bridge work, lighting upgrades, new traffic cameras and sign replacement.
“The numbers are reversed,” said city Economic Development Director Joseph Feest, who noticed the sign placement starting Sunday evening.
But he noted, Cheshire to Middlefield are not the only towns impacted. Changes to exits on Route 9 were recently completed and more are expected statewide. He said the old exit numbers are paired with the new numbers along Route 9 and his GPS system has already recognized the new numbers.
Delivery drivers and other businesses will likely rely on the old numbers until GPS catches up to the changes.
“Let’s hope they keep the old exit numbers up,” Feest said. “Any change is always confusing. We went through that when we changed the lanes downtown. We are a society that’s not used to change. It takes people time to change.”
The old exit numbers will remain in place, in addition to the new numbers, for a minimum of two years, according to the DOT website.
The roadway project extends from Route 5 to west of Route 322, in Southington and in Meriden. The project will then extend eastward to include upgrades from the Interstate 84 and Interstate 691 interchange to the limited access sections of Route 66 to incorporate the replacement of traffic signs throughout the corridor, according to the DOT.Mileage based
The exits are being renumbered to mileage-based numbering to conform to federal standards as part of a multi-year effort on all of the state’s highways.
Mileage-based numbering is the first, and most widely used highway exit numbering system, and is based on the mile marker system. Using this method, the first exit number on an interstate highway is determined by how far it is from the beginning of the route within the state’s border. In the case of I-691, the new exit numbers correspond with the distance in miles from the start of the highway going east to west.
According to the DOT, the benefits of using a mileage-based numbering system include national uniformity as almost every other state has adopted the system.
Other benefits include driver-friendly navigation, allowing drivers to quickly determine distances to destination, easier to calculate miles traveled, more accurate emergency response and ease in adding future exits without renumbering the entire corridor.
State Rep. Michael Quinn, D-Meriden, said he’s seen chatter about the changes on social media but hasn’t been contacted about it.
“It makes some sense since they are aligning with mile markers,” Quinn said. “This makes it easier for first responders. We have a challenge in Meriden with our many highways to get an exact location based on exit information. In theory this should help.”
Quinn agreed with Feest that it’s going to take time for people to get used to the changes. “After a year or two, people won’t remember what the old exit numbers were.”
The I-691 project was awarded to Manafort Brothers Inc. at a cost of $48.8 million in January 2021 and is scheduled to be completed July 23, 2024.
There will continue to be temporary lane and shoulder closures on I-691 eastbound and westbound throughout the project. Traffic control personnel and signing patterns will be utilized to guide motorists through the work zones on I-691 in the eastbound direction Monday and Tuesday 7 p.m. to 6 a.m., Wednesday through Saturday 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. and Sundays 6 p.m. to 6 a.m. On I-691 in the westbound direction work hours are Monday and Tuesday 8 p.m. to 6 a.m. and Wednesday through Sunday 9 p.m. to 6 a.m.