Miss your exit?

Pity the Interstate 95 drivers entering Connecticut from Rhode Island with no familiarity with the region. They will get no directional assistance from the large, green highway signs supposedly marking the first several southbound exits.

That’s because these signs are nearly illegible, especially at night. The signs are faded and the reflective material designed to make the wording visible after dark is just shy of being non-existent.

Joseph Elesh, a Stonington resident who wrote a letter to The Day published early in March, said for three years he has tried to get state Department of Transportation officials and even the governor to take this highway hazard seriously.

Yet the nearly useless signs remain in place.

This is not an acceptable response — or lack of response — in our opinion. Anyone who drives that stretch of southeastern Connecticut highway sees the problem and understands new signs are way overdue in that area. A lack of legible signs presents a very dangerous situation.

Perhaps signs are beginning to be considered passé? Given the ability to have a friendly GPS computer voice directing a driver’s every turn, perhaps transportation officials say: Who needs signs anyway?

The reality, however, is that not every driver wants a GPS on continually and even if they are using GPS, they also use roadside signs to verify the satellite-guided directions. A GPS system telling a driver to exit in 1,000 feet is useless when the actual exit ramp is unmarked and nearly invisible, particularly when it’s raining.

Exits 93, 92 and 91 southbound, the exits to North Stonington, Pawcatuck and Stonington, also are a gateway for tourists to our state. What a welcome for those whose spending on the region’s attractions, restaurants and lodging is vital to the local economy. The lack of bright, crisp, readable signs seems to urge visitors to keep moving along, instead of inviting them to exit and stay awhile.

While the I-95 signs in the extreme southeast corner are in the worst condition, there also are plenty of other examples of bent, faded or missing signs along the shoreline interstate between the Connecticut River and the Rhode Island border.

It’s bewildering to think that even as highway officials worked to replace all the signs along I-395 and give the exits a brand, spanking new numbering system just a few years ago, signs along the much more heavily traveled I-95 were left in deteriorated condition.

Transportation officials have said there is a plan to renumber exits and replace signs along I-95 at some point. But should southeastern Connecticut exits remain virtually invisible at night until this work gets underway?

We ask that replacement of at least the most egregiously deteriorated signs along I-95 be made an immediate priority. The signs should be replaced before another summer tourist season is underway. 

The editorial board is composed of the publisher and four journalists of varied editing and reporting backgrounds. The board's discussions and information gained from its meetings with political, civic, and business leaders drive the institutional voice of The Day, as expressed in its editorials. The editorial department operates separately from the newsroom.

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