Let’s begin at the beginning. We’re heading north from the beginning of the highway (off Bayers Road in Halifax). The first exit we come to is Exit 1D. Why D? For “Dunbrack Street”, perhaps? This ramp also connects with Northwest Arm Drive, a four-lane express road that has a hidden designation of Trunk 32.
As you can see, the exit numbering system is off to a highly inauspicious start. We’re not even going to see the delightful Exit 0, as it is only accessible to southbound traffic.
Next we come to the turnoff for Highway 103. Since this is another 100-Series road, it’s a bit surprising that the exit has the -A designation. At least they were counterintuitively correct in leaving out the ’ from “Peggys”.
Given that this is where two freeways meet, there ought to be flyovers here instead of this trumpet configuration.
And now we reach “Exit 2” for Lacewood Drive and Chain Lake Drive.
And then Exit 2, serving Kearney Lake Road – wait, say again? Well, someone goofed – the Lacewood / Chain Lake exit was actually Exit 2A. Perhaps someone thought that 2 was supposed to come before 2A? Ha-ha, why would anybody ever get that idea?
They’ve since fixed the sign at Lacewood / Chain Lake to say “Exit 2A”.
What comes after Exit 2A and Exit 2? Exit 2B, of course, accessing Larry Uteck Boulevard.
Now we come to Bedford. This ramp at the Hammonds Plains Road exit was a 1990s afterthought. Even with kilometre-based exit numbering, this interchange would need to be split up into letters. I would submit to you that that’s the only acceptable occasion for doing do. I’d also strongly recommend going with N/S/E/W or N/NE/E… (if it’s a really complex interchange!) designations instead of A/B/C… because that way you can use the same letters for the same directions on the same roads in either freeway-direction and it’ll still make sense. (Since the southbound exit isn’t split, it’d just have to be Exit nE&W under an improved system. There’s another problem – what’s currently Exit 3 southbound should be Exit 3 A&B.)
Exit 3B is my daily exit. Also the Hammonds Plains Road, but going west instead of east.
Here’s what I would submit is the worst interchange in Nova Scotia (overhead view here). Two freeways meet here – Highway 101 and Highway 102. Someday they might even tie in the Highway 107 extension and the Bedford Bypass. Right now it’s an overloaded cloverleaf with weaving problems a-plenty. Using the inner ramps is nightmarish. Even this outer ramp, Exit 4A to the Bedford Highway (Trunk 1, briefly) is problematic – it ends abruptly with a yield sign; there’s no merging lane.
And here’s Exit 4B, the ramp to Highway 101 and Trunk 1. But the sign’s had a little bit too much to drink.
Here’s the overpass for the Bedford Bypass, a provincial road internally designated Trunk 33. (A “33” shield has been showing up on Google Maps lately – I’m not sure how I feel about that, since it’s probably going to confuse anybody that’s not seriously into roads.) In what is nothing less than a monumental oversight, it provides no direct access to Highway 102. If you want to use it, you need to get off at Exit 4B and turn around on Sackville Drive. That’s the only way that people from the west part of Bedford can avoid driving through downtown Bedford to get to Dartmouth. (Save driving all the way out to Fall River, but there’s a jog there, too.)
However, I might be able to forgive the planners if the Highway 107 extension is ever completed and if direct access is provided. You know that little bridge on Duke Street just on the Bedford side of the ramps? That’s there to allow a ramp from northbound 102 to eastbound 107.
4C, for Duke Street and Glendale Drive, straddling the line between Bedford and Lower Sackville. Has nothing to do with 4A and B except proximity. Now what will they call the ramp to 107?
Exit 5 in Fall River, accessing Trunk 2. Highways 102 and 118 merge up ahead in a flyover, but there’s no direct access from northbound 102 to southbound 118 or northbound 118 to southbound 102. For those purposes, you have to get off here. Sometimes we still come all the way out here anyway, as the short jog is sometimes better than driving down Windmill Road in Burnside, especially if we plan to take Highway 107 to get somewhere out the eastern shore.
I don’t seriously object to necessitating the little off-freeway jog here because if the 107 were extended, the need would pretty much be eliminated.
Here, way far away from Exit 5, we have 5A, for Aerotech Drive. Despite what Google Maps suggests, I don’t think it’s actually part of Highway 212. It may well be in Goffs, though.
It gets almost sensible for a while, starting from here. Exit 6 is for the airport (Bell Boulevard?). If I wanted to be fancy I’d say “Halifax Stanfield” and imply that we have more than one airport.
Exit 7, Trunk 2, Enfield
Exit 8, Highway 214 (Elmsdale Road), Elmsdale
Exit 9, Trunk 14 and Highway 224 (224 begins as an old alignment of Highway 102!), Milford Station
Exit 10, Highway 215. Long, long ago, this was actually Highway 15. If you dig around at the Nova Scotia Archives, you can find some old maps with the numbers that existed prior to the present 100-series / trunk / collector classification. (For my money, there’s so little meaningful difference between trunks and collectors that I think the classification could stand to be re-visited.)
Exit 11, Main Street, Stewiacke
Here’s a “reassurance” marker coming up on Exit 12. This makes me wonder “Why?” Why would anyone not believe that continuing on Highway 102 is the default? Worse, the indicator arrow is ambiguous – both the off-ramp and the continuing highway are roughly “straight”! The place for a marker like this is after the interchange, when you’re not facing any choices. (And then take out the arrow.)
Exit 12, Highway 289 (Pleasant Valley Road), Brookfield
Coming into the Truro area, we have exit numbering shenanigans again... (Exit 13A, Tower Road, Millbrook First Nation)
... followed logically by Exit 13, accessing McClures Mills Road, Truro.
Exit 14, Highways 2 and 236 (Robie Street), Lower Truro
Exit 14A, Highways 2 and 4 (Onslow Road), Onslow – 2 is multiplexed with 102 between Exits 14 and 14A. Note that there are only ramps on the south side, probably because of the proximity of...
Exit 15W, for Highway 104 West. Or at least the sign. This is where you’ll go if you’re in the left lane. I note that there’s nothing saying “Bridge to PEI”, which is funny because...
Exit 15E, for Highway 104 East, indicates the ferry to PEI. But there are a few problems here. As or after the 104 was twinned through here, the interchange was slightly reconfigured so that this turnoff would be gentler. OK, alright so far. But that also means that you need to turn off sooner. And it’s clear from this picture that they didn’t move this dowdy old wooden sign – and as far as I know, they still haven’t. They stuck a revised “ramp speed” indicator on it and that was it.
It gets worse. In the wintertime, where do you think the “Ferry Not Operating” sign goes? That’s right – it goes on this sign, underneath the arrow. But by the time you’re close enough to read it, it’s almost too late to get into the left lane to head for New Brunswick and take the bridge.
I'm passionate about this subject, so I've gone on at length. If I can only leave you with one takeaway, let it be that sequential exit numbering (at least on roads more than a few kilometres in length) is a bad idea. A much better alternative is to number the exits according to the kilometre posts. British Columbia, Alberta, Manitoba, Ontario, Québec, and New Brunswick are already doing this. The only significant holdouts are 1) Nova Scotia and 2) Newfoundland and Labrador (surprising, as their implementation of exit numbering occurred fairly recently).
Numbering according to kilometre posts has at least two big advantages:
1. Expandability – If you should ever build a new interchange, there’s no need to worry about an appropriate number to assign. You also avoid most A-B-C-D messes and can save the letters for compass directions at the same interchange and certain other situations.
2. Understandability – If you just drove past Exit 14 and your destination is off Exit 28, you know that you have 14 kilometres to go until your exit is reached. Better yet, with the kilometre posts that we have, you can easily track the distance while you’re between distant exits.
I admit at least one disadvantage: it’s going to mess you up if you’re accustomed to counting the junctions as you go by them (does anyone do this?), but even then that system is already broken by our haphazard implementation of sequential exit numbering.
Please Nova Scotia, let’s do something, before we face a tragedy like an Exit 5½.
Finally, if Nova Scotia’s Highway 102 isn’t enough to convince you of the folly of sequence-based numbering, let’s take a quick <ahem> gander at Newfoundland and Labrador Route 1:
Off the boat in Port aux Basques, you come to a sign that looks like an exit gore – you know, it has the word “EXIT” in it – but it’s really just pointing the way to Highway 470. But anyone who doesn’t know Newfoundland roads (including many of the people driving their RVs off the MV Sleepy Trucker) is going to think that’s an exit number. Anyway, this has nothing to do with sequence except that you should pretend this is signed “Exit 1”.
Now, 144 kilometres later, outside Stephenville, we come to Exit 2. Yes, they have sequential numbering on a 900+km road. I’m sorry, Newfoundland, that we in Nova Scotia were such a bad influence in this case. Sorry.