Controversial Exit Renumbering Project Addressed in Hyannis

HYANNIS – A public meeting was held Tuesday night on the controversial Statewide Exit Renumbering Project from the Massachusetts Department of Transportation.

MassDOT officials met with local residents at the Cape Cod Regional Transportation Authority in Hyannis to provide information on the project and to answer questions.

Beginning later this summer, MassDOT will be implementing mile-based exit numbers on freeways throughout the state.

This project looks to align the state’s roads with regulations from the Federal Highway Administration, as failure to do so could result in a loss of federal funding.

Some Cape Cod residents and lawmakers have been asking for the exit numbers along Route 6 to be exempt from the statewide changes, and the Tuesday meeting was no different.

State Representative Will Crocker was in attendance to voice his opposition to the project. He said that it could disrupt the area’s business development and overall character.

Dorothy Smith, chief of staff for State Representative Sarah Peake, echoed those sentiments while calling for an exemption to the mandate for Cape Cod.

The mandate from the federal government for this project was issued in 2009. Massachusetts is one of three states in the country to have not yet complied.

The new numbering system aims to give drivers easy estimations of travel distances, accurate information for emergency response teams, uniformity with the rest of the country, and a sense of flexibility if more exits are added in the future.

Resident Dave Schropfer agreed with the changes, saying that completing the project is the right and safe thing to do.

Visitors to Cape Cod that could provide commerce, he explained, are often accustomed to the mile-based system used throughout the majority of country.

“As much as I love Cape Cod and as much as I understand its uniqueness, one, two, three, four, to twelve does not characterize us. Nobody even thinks of that,” Schropfer said.

Uniformity, MassDOT argues, would save money on overall maintenance costs. The projected cost for the project is approximately $2.8 million.

Wendy Northcross, CEO of the Cape Cod Chamber of Commerce, said that the chamber does not have a firm position on the matter at this time, one way or the other. She added that the chamber is open to comments from the public regarding the project.

Northcross said the chamber would likely conduct research on the impact of this project on other cities and towns across the state that also have a heavy emphasis on tourism.

“Cape Codders just don’t like change,” Northcross said.

“We’ve been pretty consistent for 400 years, we just don’t like change. But, we want to be good partners, too.”

She was also curious about navigational apps being updated to reflect the changes. MassDOT advised they will work with the companies that run these apps to ensure exit numbers are up to date as they are being converted.

Old exit numbers will be displayed along with the new exit numbers for at least two years following construction, in order to help drivers transition to the revised system.

MassDOT also said that public service announcements will be sent out when they begin work on a new corridor.

About Brendan Fitzpatrick

Brendan, a recent graduate from the University of Massachusetts Amherst, is one of the newest members of the NewsCenter team. When not on the beat, you'll probably find him watching Boston sports.
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