It won't be long before the region's old familiar highway exit numbers become a thing of the past.

The Massachusetts Department of Transportation next week will start converting all freeway exit numbers to a milepost-based system, replacing the current sequential numbers with distance-marked exit signs.

Massachusetts has been lagging in making the change as required by the Federal Highway administration. Other states have already made the change.

South Coast residents will be the guinea pigs, as Rt. 140 between Taunton and New Bedford is scheduled as MassDOT's first re-numbering project. Starting Sunday, Oct. 18, crews will work overnight to replace the old signs. However, old exit number signs will be added at "key locations" to help people get used to the change.

Once Rt. 140 has new exit signs, crews plan to move on to Rt. 195.

Those who wish to keep up-to-date on the project should visit the New Mass Exits website maintained by MassDOT.

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