The in basket: Sally Murphy asks, “Why the inconsistency in
numbering the exits off Highway 16? As one comes across the
Narrows, there is an exit sign, number 7, then after three Gig
Harbor exits, with no numbered exits, one comes upon Exit 20,
Burley-Olalla. Nothing in between and nothing afterward.
“My nephew was visiting from Texas and I told him to take Exit 20. He called and said he has passed Exit 7 and then saw no other numbered exits and thought he had made a wrong turn. Why the lack of consistency?”
The out basket: Actually, there is something afterward, but not until you leave Highway 16 for Highway 3 and get to Silverdale, where Bill Vale noticed the same inconsistency in 2009.
Only the exits at the Highway 3-303 intersection were numbered on those freeways, he noted.
Claudia Bingham-Baker of the Olympic Region public affairs staff for state highways, says the explanation given then by region Traffic Engineer Steve Bennett applies this time too.
““For years, maybe decades,” Steve said then, “we numbered only Interstate route exits. Several years ago, we decided that policy didn’t make sense and began, as new construction came to a corridor, to add exit numbers to all multi-lane divided freeways.”
“The Highway 3-303 interchange is the most recent one substantially modified here,” he said. “I would assume the Burley-Olalla Road interchange will have its exits numbered, corresponding with the nearest milepost marker, when it opens later this year.”
Which is what happened. No other interchanges in our area have been modified in the meantime, so still have no exit numbers.
Claudia elaborated this week to say exits, “are numbered according to the milepost location (within our state’s boundaries) at which the exit is located. (Highway 16′s)Exit 7 is located seven miles from where the highway begins (in this case, I-5), and Exit 20 at Burley Olalla is located 20 miles from that same beginning point.
“As such, exit numbers are a great reference point for drivers. Let’s say you’re headed northbound from Oregon to Washington, and you know you need to take Exit 165. If you understand the exit numbering system, you know that I-5 at the Oregon border is milepost 0. Exit #165 would be 165 miles north of that beginning point.
“On north/south highways, the mileposts increase in the northbound direction, and on east/west highways, the mileposts increase in the eastern direction.
“There are two notable exceptions to this rule,” she said, ” both in our neck of the woods: 1) US 101, which is unusual because it’s a loop road where milepost numbers increase north up the coast and then continue to increase even when the highway is headed back south to Olympia; and 2) SR 16, where mileposts increase east to west (the opposite of our conventional numbering system). Not sure why.”