Work has begun on a project to implement a mile-based numbering scheme for exits along parts of Interstate 81, Interstate 690 and state Route 481 in Cortland, Oswego and Onondaga counties, the New York state Department of Transportation announced Friday.

The project will update the existing, sequentially numbered exit signs with new panels that delineate the exit by its mileage location along the highway. The state said it will give motorists a better indication of how many miles they need to travel to reach their destinations, facilitating improved traffic management and enhancing safety and emergency response.

The new exit numbers along I-81 will be based on the distance in miles moving from south to north from the Pennsylvania border to the Canadian border. The I-690 numbers will be based on the distance moving from west to east beginning at the New York state Thruway. New state Route 481 numbers will be based on the distance in miles moving south to north, starting at the interchange of I-481, which will eventually become I-81 upon completion of the community grid project.

The I-81 changes will start in Cortland County with existing Exit 9, for Marathon, continuing north into Onondaga County, to existing Exit 16, for the Onondaga Nation and Nedrow. The work will resume in Onondaga County at what is currently Exit 30, for Cicero, and move north to Oswego County, through existing Exit 37, for Sandy Creek and Lacona. Exit 17, for South Salina Street and Brighton Aveue, through Exit 29N, for Oswego, will be converted in accordance with the completion of work on the I-81 viaduct project. 

Interstate 690 numbers will change starting at Exit 1, for the Thruway, continuing east through the existing eastbound Exit 8, for Hiawatha Blvd. Exit 9, for Bear Street, through Exit 17, for Bridge Street and East Syracuse, will be converted in accordance with the completion of work on the I-81 viaduct project. 

State Route 481 changes will begin at Exit 10, for U.S. Route 11 Circle Drive and North Syracuse, continuing north to the existing Exit 14, for state Route 264 for Phoenix and Mexico.

“The safety and convenience of the traveling public are always top priorities for the New York State Department of Transportation and these new exit numbers will allow drivers to make safer and better-informed travel decisions as they journey along some of Central New York’s busiest highways,” state DOT Commissioner Marie Therese Dominguez  said in a statement. “With mile-based exit signs, drivers will be able to easily determine where they are and how far they need to go to reach their destinations, enabling more efficient travel planning and enhanced safety for all who use our highways.”

The new mile-based exit numbers will be added to the upper panel on the existing signs. To reduce driver confusion, panel signs with the old sequential exit number (OLD EXIT 9) will be added to the bottom of the first approaching existing exit sign.

Work on the exit sign conversion is anticipated to be finished by the end of the year.


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