Drive north to go south … or is that west? Why they’re renumbering 95/295
The Jersey Department of Transportation recently announced that what is now I-95 in Mercer County, from the Scudder Falls Bridge over the Delaware River to the Route 1 exit, will be redesignated as I-295 in the coming months.
The change is part of a plan to connect I-95 in Pennsylvania to I-276, the Pennsylvania Turnpike in Bristol, Pennsylvania. This will allow I-95 to connect to the New Jersey Turnpike.
When the new I-95 Pennsylvania Turnpike interchange is completed this summer, it will create a continuous I-95 highway from Pennsylvania to New Jersey.
DOT spokesman Steve Schapiro said the biggest impact for drivers in the Garden State will be that the entire stretch of Interstate highway that is now I-295 leading into I-95 at Route 1 will become I-295, which should lesson confusion.
For some, however, it could make things even more confusing.
Schapiro said under the new configuration, if you want to go south to Philadelphia from the new stretch of I-295, “you’re going to be going north past Route 1 towards the Delaware River, and when you get to the Delaware River in Pennsylvania, 295 will be designated as 295 West.”
Then you would continue on 295 West until you reach I-95 South, which will actually be the same highway but the name of it will have changed.
In other words, you will be heading in a southbound direction “even though the highway designation will be north," Schapiro said.
He acknowledged this whole thing gets a little tricky if you’re heading to Philadelphia because you’ll actually be heading in a southern direction on I-295 North, but then once you cross into Pennsylvania you’ll be on 295 West.
“You can’t call that north because you’re actually heading south, so it was determined to call that west, and then the other direction eastbound.”
And if you’re traveling north on 95 in Pennsylvania, the highway will suddenly change to I-295 East, and then change again to I-295 South as you cross into Jersey.
Schapiro said typically roadways that loop in a circle don’t actually have a north-south designation; they may simply be called the inner or outer loop. But in the case of 295, it’s not a complete circle.
“Because this is not a true beltway, they’re not able to do that type of designation.”
As part of this redesignation plan, the exit numbers that are currently in place will be changed as each section of I-95 becomes I-295, but Schapiro said shouldn’t really be very confusing.
“Nothing on the roadway itself will change. It’s the same highway, the same exits.”
"For most drivers that are local, they know where they’re going, they know where Princeton Pike is or where Route 206 is and that’s the exit they need to be getting off at."
He said the old exit numbers will be left on the signs for some time.
Schapiro noted the current I-295 configuration will not be changed.
The redesignation project will begin later this month. About 200 road signs will slowly be switched at a cost of about $1.2 million.
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