Originally created 01/11/00

Drivers will see new signs



You may have noticed it on the drive home Monday.

Interstate exits across the city were assigned new exit numbers as part of a statewide plan to nix the old sequential numbering system for one based on mile markers.

As such, Interstate 20 Exit 65 at Washington Road became Exit 199. Exits 64A and 64B at the Bobby Jones Expressway became Exits 196A and 196B.

Several exit numbers on Interstate 520 remained the same because the old sequential number happens to coincide with the mile marker. However, a few changed, including the Georgia Highway 56 Spur exit, which went from Exit 8 to Exit 10.

Highway workers spent Monday unveiling the new numbers, working westward from the Georgia-South Carolina border. Other Georgia Department of Transportation contractors started last week on Interstate 75 at the Georgia-Tennessee border and Interstates 985 and 575 in metro Atlanta.

"The Augusta area is one of the first in the state to be renumbered," department spokeswoman Shaneesa Ashford said, adding exit signs are being renumbered county by county in order of descending mile marker.

More than 5,700 exit signs across the state's 15 interstate highways will be renumbered by the end of June.

The project, approved by the state transportation board in 1997, carries a $6.5 million price tag.

Georgia Logos Inc., the private Atlanta-based company that oversees the state's gas-food-lodging signs, said it will spend about $100,000 to update the 1,475 little blue signs staked at Georgia's 330 interchanges.

The company sent notice of the changes to its 3,000 customers during summer 1998, Georgia Logos' General Manager Floyd Williams said.

He said the company is not passing the cost along to program participants, who pay a flat fee to rent space on the roadside signs.

But some roadside businesses will have to bear the cost of changing billboards, business cards, stationery and other printed materials using the old exit numbers.

For example, the Amerisuites hotel on Claussen Road will spend about $600 printing new brochures because the nearest exit, at River Watch Parkway, changed from Exit 66 to Exit 200.

"We haven't done it yet, but we'll have to," General Manager Carol Stewart said. "It's a lot of money, but it's nothing compared to (companies) that have to change billboards and other things."

The changeover may be a headache for a handful of businesses, but officials say Georgia residents and traveling motorists will benefit from the more logical numbering system already used by 48 other states, including neighboring South Carolina.

Most of Georgia's interstate signs are simply getting new number plates. Other signs are being replaced altogether with more efficient ones made with reflective materials that do not need exterior illumination at night.

Reach Damon Cline at (706) 823-3486.