Brunswick resident Heather D. Martin wants to know what’s on your mind; email her at

I am absolutely certain that before any major public works project is set into motion, the idea is mapped out, thought over and discussed in meeting after meeting after meeting. I am certain that the good folks at the Maine Department of Transportation have their reasons for renaming and relabeling all of the exits and ramps along the Route 1 connector roads, and I bet they are good ones that were thought about long and hard.

That said, for the life of me I can’t figure out what they are.

From where I sit, namely the driver’s seat of my car on the way to and from work, it just makes no sense. One day all the exits were numbered, like we were used to. You could gauge, roughly, about how far you had left to go based upon the exit you were passing, because they went in order.

The next day: letters.

What had been good old trusty “Exit 128” suddenly became “E.” (OK, I’m not really sure which exit became what letter, but that was the nature of the switch.)

Why, DOT? Why this change?


“Exit E” is meaningless to me. It does nothing to ground me in a sense of where I am in relation to where I am headed. This is doubly so because the same letter is being used elsewhere on another stretch of “connector” road not all that far away.

I discovered this when the honey and I went on a jaunt last weekend down to Gorham to pick out some plants gifted to us. We were tooling along, on another Route 1 connector, and we noticed we were passing Exit E – the same exit designation letter that we passed way up in Brunswick.

What the heck? How are we supposed to be able to talk about where we are or how to get to someplace else? And if I’m perplexed, pity the tourists this summer!

Worse, and this is what really throws me, they don’t even seem to follow a rational pattern. I mean, they probably do somehow. I’m sure it makes sense as part of some grand master plan on a giant sheet of paper somewhere, but in real life, our old friend Exit E appeared directly after we passed Exit P. The same is true for the stretch I drive every day – the letters are not in alphabetical order. So the rhyme and reason eludes me.

While I am on this little rant, I may as well go all in and ask: How much did this new system cost?

I tried finding hard figures, but I do not have the right sources to get accurate, reliable information on this. The best I could find was a company sourcing signs for Arizona highways back before pandemic pricing. Nothing about that seems useful, except to say that even those rates were not cheap.

The thing I find myself really fixating on during my commute, though, is just why? What was the flaw in the old system that this is meant to remedy? I don’t know, but somebody does. Someone out there drafted this new system, and I would like to invite that person, with genuine sincerity, to tell me why.

I know I’ve been snarky. I know I’ve been flippant, but that’s just how I get when confronted by a change I don’t understand. I swear I am truly curious and eager to listen. I want to understand the logic behind the process. I promise to listen and not interrupt. I promise to ask questions if I get lost, and I promise to report back to all of you if I get an answer.

Until then, thank goodness I’m traveling routes I know well. Stay safe, stay hydrated, and watch out for confused visitors merging suddenly to make their exit.

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