Exit numbers in the United States

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Main article: Exit number

An exit number is a number assigned to a road junction, usually an exit from a freeway. It is usually marked on the same sign as the destinations of the exit, as well as a sign in the gore.

Interstate Highways[edit]

An example of a green exit number plaque for a left exit with the yellow "left" panel.
An example of an exit number plaque in green for a two right exits.
Old mile tabs on I-295 in Rhode Island; several other New England states and Colorado did this. As of September 2007, these signs have been replaced and use only the sequential exit number scheme
Exit numbers on Interstate 4 in Volusia County, Florida. In this case, mile-based exits 111A and 111B had been sequential exits 53CA and 53CB, as the 'OLD 53CA' tab shows.
Kilometer-based exit numbers on I-19 in Arizona

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) generally requires exit numbers (mile-based or consecutively) on the Interstate Highway System; the FHWA established that requirement in 1970.[1] The Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) encouraged use of mileposts and exit numbering by 1961. The MUTCD mandated exit numbering in 1971.[1] The FHWA granted California an exception due to the cost of installing and maintaining additional signage. California was able to obtain a waiver because it had already built most of its freeways, although some freeways in Los Angeles County received junction numbers: Interstate 10 was the only freeway in the county that had a complete set of junction numbers. Interstate 5, US 101, and then CA 11 (now I-110/CA 110) were numbered for short distances from downtown Los Angeles. Freeway connections were unnumbered, and junction numbers were only shown on plates, not on gore signs. In 2002, the Cal-NExUS program began to completely number California's junctions.[2] The program is not well-funded, especially because of California's budget woes, so exits are only being signed with numbers when signs need to be replaced. As the efficiency of an exit numbering system for navigational purposes depends on all exits being consistently numbered, the usefulness of the system while only some exits are numbered is limited. Originally, the initial completion date for this project was set as November 2004. The deadline was then extended to 2008. However, the 2006 edition of the California MUTCD removed any sort of compliance deadline for the exit numbers.[3]

Nine states as of June 2008 and the District of Columbia use sequential numbering schemes on at least one highway, although the 2009 edition of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) requires these jurisdictions to transition to distance-based numbering. Although a ten-year compliance period was proposed for the new edition of the MUTCD,[4] a compliance date for this change was ultimately not adopted with the 2009 edition, meaning that the transition is accomplished through a systematic upgrading of existing signing and there is no specific date by which the change must be implemented.[5] Some of the states that currently have sequential numbering either have or intend to request a waiver from the Federal Highway Administration to retain their current numbering systems, while others have planned a gradual transition to mileage-based exit numbering over time as existing signage reaches the end of its serviceable life and is replaced.

  • Connecticut – Sequential, except for I-395 and CT Route 2A, which have mileage-based exit numbers as of July 2015. I-395 and Route 2A's exit numbers have been changed to mileage-based as part of a sign replacement project that began in May 2014. Several non-Interstate freeways have interchanges without exit numbers.
Connecticut planned to convert I-91 to mileage-based exit numbering in 1974; however, CONNDOT abandoned that initiative due to objections from local businesses.[6][7]
  • Delaware – On I-95, I-495, and Delaware Route 141 only. Delaware Route 1 uses kilometer-based exit numbers despite using milemarkers since 2003 (and newer exits use numbers making no sense to either system, such as Exit 86 in Frederica not being 86 miles or kilometers from the Maryland line), and I-295 has no exit numbers at all.
  • District of Columbia – Historically, the only exit numbers posted in the District consisted of sequential numbers on I-295. The other freeways within the District of Columbia did not have exit numbers, but in 2008 the District began posting sequential numbers on I-395. As of June 2008, not all interchanges had received numbers. The close proximity of the interchanges on this short freeway, coupled with the lack of space for new interchanges, renders the sequential system more practical than the mileage-based.[citation needed]
  • Massachusetts – Sequential (experimented with dual exit/mile tabs in the 1970s). Massachusetts has applied to the Federal Highway Administration for a waiver to retain its sequential numbering system. [8]
  • Maryland – The Baltimore Beltway is sequentially numbered.[9]
  • New Hampshire – All sequential.
  • New Jersey – Sequential numbering on the New Jersey Turnpike, Palisades Interstate Parkway, and I-676. Other New Jersey exit numbering is mile-based, except for the Brigantine Connector in Atlantic City, which uses letters for exits. Many New Jersey freeways lack exit numbers.
  • New York – Sequential, except I-781 (Fort Drum spur), I-890 in Schenectady,[10] and I-95 south of the Pelham Parkway. The recently-opened section of Interstate 99/US 15 also has mileage-based numbers.
  • Rhode Island – Sequential; experimented with dual exit/mile tabs in the 1970s. The state is considering requesting a waiver from the FHWA to retain its sequential numbering system.
  • Vermont – Sequential, except Route 289 (Circumferential Highway) has mileage-based exit numbering.

Most other states began with sequential numbers and switched over later. Here is a list of these switches, in the order that they happened:

  • Colorado – Used dual mile/junction plates into the mid 1970s; initially used sequential numbering.
  • New Jersey – Around 1970. The New Jersey Turnpike kept sequential exit numbering.
  • Ohio – Between 1972 and 1974 (though the Ohio Turnpike continued to carry both systems until 2000).
  • Iowa – May have had sequential numbers on Interstate 80 in the early 1970s. Adopted distance-based exit numbering in 1977.
  • Indiana – Around 1980.
  • Mississippi – 1980s.
  • North Dakota – 1980s
  • Virginia – Early 1990s; exceptions include Route 267 (suburban Washington, D.C.) and Interstate 581 (Roanoke). I-581 utilizes sequential exit numbers; furthermore, Exit 1 is at I-581's northern end.
  • Georgia – Began January 4, 2000, now complete.[11] (Interstate highways only).
  • Pennsylvania – Began April 2001 on Interstates and all highways of the Pennsylvania Turnpike system. Prior to renumbering, junctions solely between two-digit interstates were not numbered (for example, the junction of I-79 and I-80). Sequential numbering skipped these junctions.
  • Florida – Began January 28, 2002, now complete. However, I-110 retained its sequential exit numbers.[12]
  • California – Began January 2002. California was the only state not to require exit numbers or mileposts, because most of their highway system was built prior to the federal requirement. Before adopting exit numbering, California relied on its system of county-based mileposts on all highways, without having explicitly numbered exits.
  • Maine – Early 2004 (experimented with dual exit/mile tabs in the 1970s).
  • New York – Recently completed freeways, notably Interstate 781 near Fort Drum and the Interstate 99/US-15 freeway have mileage-based exit numbers. Additionally, the New York State Department of Transportation began changing exit numbers on Interstate 95 through New York City from distance-based to sequential, but then reverted back to distance-based in anticipation of an eventual conversion to solely distance-based numbering throughout the state. Currently, New York has no timeline for converting its remaining highways to mileage-based numbering. Bills directing the New York State Department of Transportation and the New York State Thruway Authority to renumber exits from sequential to mile-based have been introduced into the New York Legislature since 2008, none of which have been approved by both chambers and signed into law.
  • Connecticut - Started a gradual transition from sequential to mileage-based exit numbers in 2015, with I-395 and Route 2A being the first freeways converted in July of that year. The Connecticut Department of Transportation let a similar contract to replace signage and renumber exits on the Route 25 freeway north of the Route 8 split in August 2014. (Exit numbers on the Route 25/8 concurrency will not be changed in this project.) Contracts to replace signs and renumber exits on Interstate 91 (which initially was planned in the 1970s but abandoned), Interstate 95, and Route 8 (the latter north of the 25/8 concurrency) are scheduled to be awarded in late 2015 and early 2016.[13] Exit numbers on other highways will be converted to mile-based numbering over a 20-year period as existing highway signs reach the end of their serviceable life and are replaced with new signage.

Two highways (Interstate 19 in Arizona and Delaware Route 1) have metric numbering, because they were constructed during the time when the U.S. was thought to be completely converting to metric. Delaware Route 1 currently uses standard milepost (since 2003) when the metric-based posts were replaced, and several newer exit numbers (86, 91, 98) do not coincide with either the milemarker nor its kilometer conversion as they are offset by miles from a KM based exit. I-19 currently has all exit numbers and distances in kilometers, but speed limits in miles per hour. The road has received funding for the distances to be changed back to miles.[14]

Other highways[edit]

Exit numbering on non-Interstate highways is less consistent. For example, Texas, which normally uses mile-based exit numbering, uses sequential numbering on U.S. Route 75 between downtown Dallas and the Oklahoma border. Similarly, the U.S. Route 54 freeway from El Paso to the New Mexico border also uses sequential exit numbering.

  • California uses exit numbers on all of its non-interstate highways statewide when they are built to freeway standards. However like its interstate highways (as stated above), the state's budget woes have caused exits on these routes to only be signed with numbers when signs need to be replaced.
  • Connecticut uses sequential exit numbers on longer non-interstate freeways, such as CT Routes 2, 2A, 8, 9, 11, 25, 40, and 72.
    • Exit numbers on Route 15 (Merritt and Wilbur Cross parkways) are sequential; CT 15's exit numbers are a continuation of exit numbers from the Hutchinson River Parkway in New York, except that the Route 120A interchange on the state line is Exit 30 eastbound, and Exit 27 westbound. The Wilbur Cross Parkway, eastbound, takes over the Merritt's sequential numbering.
      • Freeway sections of US-7 also use sequential numbering. Shorter freeway sections, such as the US-6 Windham Bypass, Route 20 (Bradley Airport Connector), and freeway sections of Route 17 lack exit numbers.
  • A number of small cities in Kentucky, mainly in the southeastern and south-central portions of the Commonwealth, mark traffic lights on a main commercial road with sequential numbers, usually beginning at an intersection with a primary highway:
    • BereaKY 21, starting at the I-75 interchange until KY 21 meets US 25. Numbering continues on US 25 until the road leaves the city limits. Throughout this stretch, numbering increases as one travels north.
    • CorbinUS 25E, starting at the I-75 interchange at North Corbin and continuing for approximately 5 miles (8 km) until its intersection with KY 830 east of Corbin. Numbering increases as one travels east (which is signed as south on 25E).
    • London has two sets of numbered lights.
      • The Hal Rogers Parkway, starting at KY 192 (which is not numbered, as it is a flashing yellow light for parkway traffic instead of a fully controlled signal) and ending at US 25. Numbering increases as one travels west.
      • KY 192, starting at the I-75 interchange and increasing as one travels east until reaching the Hal Rogers Parkway.
    • ManchesterUS 421, starting at the Hal Rogers Parkway and increasing as one travels north through the city.
    • MiddlesboroKY 74 through the downtown area, with numbering increasing as one travels west.
    • MonticelloKY 90, starting at the northern end of the city and increasing until exiting the city.
    • RadcliffUS 31W, also known as Dixie Highway, starting at an intersection at the city's border with Elizabethtown and increasing as one travels north until reaching the main entrance to Fort Knox.
    • Richmond also has two sets of numbered lights.
      • U.S. Route 25 Business through downtown numbers lights 1–6 from KY 52 at Lancaster Avenue and the next 5 consecutive lights south. Incidentally, the lights south of the railroad tracks and north of the KY 52 multiplex are not numbered.
      • The bypass route wrapping east around Richmond starting with KY 876 (locally known as Eastern Bypass) east of I-75 exit 87, and continues onto Dr. Robert R. Martin Highway US 25/US 421 to I-75 exit 90. The traffic lights at the interstate are not numbered.
    • SomersetUS 27, starting at the northern limits of the city and increasing as one travels south. The numbering continues even after the road leaves the city limits, with the final numbered intersection occurring shortly before US 27 enters the city of Burnside.
  • Minnesota distance-numbers its exits on Interstates, but leaves other freeways or expressways with unnumbered exits. The sole exception is US 52's freeway portion through Rochester, which received mileage-based exit numbers in 2004 as part of a major widening project.
  • New Hampshire does not assign numbers to exits to junctions with Interstates (with the exception of I-393 in Concord, in which exit 15W from I-93 connected to the US 4/US 202 interchange prior to the construction of I-393). For example, I-293's southern exit from I-93 is between exits 5 and 6, but is not numbered; NH-101 eastbound, however, despite being an interstate grade freeway, is assigned Exit 7. NH-101's own exit to Interstate 95 in Hampton is between exits 12 and 13, but is also not numbered.
  • In New Mexico, U.S. 84/285 between Pojoaque and Santa Fe was the first non-Interstate highway in New Mexico to use exit numbers. The NM 599 and Santa Fe County Road 62 interchange, which was completed in mid-2013, is the only non-freeway within New Mexico using an exit number (Exit 6). The US-70/285 Relief Route around Roswell has an interchange with two exits marked "Exit A" and "Exit B." Other freeways (US-70 east of Las Cruces and NM 423 in Albuquerque) have no exit numbers due to their relatively short lengths.
  • In New England, except for Maine (which assigned exit numbers based on mileage), exit numbers are posted on express highways of any significant length, regardless of designation. Some at-grade intersections have posted numbers; such as on CT 9 in Middletown.
  • Various districts within the Ohio Department of Transportation have begun to employ exit numbers on non-Interstates using the south or west entrance into the state or highway beginning as the point of origin,[16] though at least one district measures them from the south or west entrance into the respective county.[17]
  • Oklahoma posts exit numbers on its tollway system.
  • Oregon originally did not post exit numbers on any of its non-Interstates. In the 1990s, the Oregon Department of Transportation began numbering most sections of its freeways with mile-based exits, starting with US-26 and OR-217 west of Portland. As of 2013, almost all Oregon freeway interchanges are numbered; new interchanges are also numbered. (These exits are based on internal highway mileage; see State highways in Oregon for an explanation on these differences.
  • Pennsylvania's non-Interstate highways that have numbered exits are still numbered sequentially, with the exception of the toll roads that are part of the Pennsylvania Turnpike system. PA 60 was one of these roads, but the numbers were converted to the mileage-based system (since reversed) in November 2009 when I-376 was extended along PA 60 to Mercer County. The Pennsylvania Turnpike Northeast Extension, opened in 1957, originally had a unique system in which the mileposts were separate from that of the mainline turnpike, starting at milepost A0.0 (the mainline turnpike went from 0.0 to roughly 359.0), but used the sequential exit numbers 31 to 39 (the mainline turnpike went from 1 to 30). Upon the conversion to the mile-based system, the mainline turnpike uses the distance of I-76 from the Ohio state line to New Jersey (as I-276), while the Northeast Extension was converted in 2000–2003 using the mileage based on the southern junction of I-476 (with I-95 in Chester), with the southernmost Northeast Extension exit being numbered as Exit 20, using the I-476 mileage instead of Exit 333A or Exit 334 on the east–west mileage, thus making the highways separate, but distinct systems despite the use of the common ticket system. (Coincidentally, Exit 31 for Lansdale kept its original number being between Mile 30 and 31 when the extension was renumbered for I-476's mileage.) Additionally, freeway sections can have independent mileposting systems that apply exclusively to the freeway: an example of this being the Robert Casey Highway-US 6 extending northeast of Scranton, which has mileposts reflecting the length of the freeway section. Conversely, the US 22 Lehigh Valley Thruway through Bethlehem and US 30 between York and Lancaster have no exit numbering, but do have mileposts that reflect the appropriate distance from the Ohio border.
  • Texas currently has three non-interstates that use exit numbers. US 75 uses a sequential scheme. Due to a major reconstruction project in the 1990s, which combined many exits, these jump from 8B to 20B. Similarity, US 54 in El Paso uses sequential exits, starting at exit 20. SH 130 uses mile-based exits starting at 497 and decreases to 411 at its northern terminus. Exits on completed sections of Interstate 69 and Interstate 2 are currently unnumbered.
  • Washington State does not number most of its non-Interstate freeway exits. Two exceptions are SR-14 from Vancouver to Camas (since the 1990s) and SR-16 from Tacoma to near Gig Harbor (since 2006, possibly to extend along all of SR-16 to its northern terminus in Gorst), both milepost-based. It is unclear if other freeways will receive numbers in the future.
  • West Virginia has only one non-interstate with exit numbers, the US 22 freeway in Weirton.[18]

Early exit numbers[edit]


  1. ^ a b California Highways: Numbering Conventions – Postmiles. Accessed: 17 July 2008.
  2. ^ Brown, Patricia Leigh. "Counting the way to San Jose." New York Times, 10 February 2002, sec. WK, p. 2.
  3. ^ "California Highways: Numbering Conventions Exit Numbers". Retrieved 2009-03-05. 
  4. ^ Proposed Amendements to the MUTCD Section 2E.27 Lines 33–41
  5. ^ MUTCD 2009 Edition Introduction, Paragraphs 22 through 24 and Table I-2
  6. ^ Exit Numbering, www.kurumi.com, Accessed Nov 15, 2009
  7. ^ I-395 Exit Re-Numbering Will Create Problems, Montville Patch, May 16, 2013
  8. ^ Exit Numbers Might Change in Rhode Island, Channel 10 News, Accessed July 11, 2015
  9. ^ Röckers Meet King Tubbys Inna Fire House[dead link]
  10. ^ Upstate New York Roads – Interstate 890 Interchange Guide
  11. ^ Georgia DOT – Interstate Exit Numbers
  12. ^ Operations – Florida's Interstate Exit Numbers
  13. ^ Advertising Schedule of Projects, Connecticut Department of Transportation, Accessed January 22, 2014
  14. ^ Holley, Denise (March 17, 2009). "New signs on Interstate 19 courtesy of recovery funds". Nogales International. Retrieved 2009-12-29. 
  15. ^ "Florida Department of Transportation Interchange Report" (PDF). Florida Department of Transportation. 2008-11-24. Retrieved 2009-07-27. 
  16. ^ Patch, David (2007-02-10). "ODOT extends numbered exits to non-interstates". The Blade. Retrieved 2009-09-28. 
  17. ^ "Lorain County Photos: OH 2 through Lorain County". Roadfan.com.
  18. ^ US 22 at Weirton[dead link]
  19. ^ Wisconsin Department of Transportation. "Exit Numbers on Wisconsin's Freeways". Retrieved 2007-12-06. 
  20. ^ Merritt Parkway (CT 15)
  21. ^ http://www.texasfreeway.com/Houston/historic/photos/images/i45_safety_barrier_july_1956.jpg

Further reading[edit]

  • Signs Numbering Exits Installed on Parkways, New York Times April 24, 1938 page 26