Changing Highway Exit Numbers in Eastern CT: Been There, Done That

There was a time when the best-known highway exit on the road to UConn was Exit 100 from Interstate 86.  Then everything changed.  It will be déjà vu all over again for Eastern Connecticut drivers during the next couple of years, as another set of prominent exits receive new numbers, courtesy of the state Department of Transportation (DOT).  The city of Norwich and the Mohegan Sun casino will be at the center of the changes.

DOT recently announced that it is planning to change Interstate 395 exit numbers as part of two projects totaling $9 million that will update road signs in accordance with U.S. government mandates for highway exits to match mile markers.

Under this plan, as reported in the Norwich Bulletin, thirty exit numbers along the interstate from New London County to the Massachusetts state line will change by the fall of 2015. Among the revisions are the northbound and southbound exits for Route 82/Downtown Norwich (Salem Turnpike) in Norwich, being changed to exit 11 from their current exit 80.  The well-known ex86 84it to Mohegan Sun, currently exit 79, would also receive a new exit number.

Construction is expected to begin in April 2014. The former exit numbers will remain on the new signs for at least two years, the DOT said last week.  Concerns about the costs to businesses to revise advertising, printed directions, and related materials have been raised.  We’ve been down this road before in Connecticut, as long-time residents will remember.

Nearly 30 years ago,  in 1984,  a more dramatic change re-wrote the exit landscape east of the Capital City, on what was then I-86 heading east from East Hartford.  The change eliminated I-86, changing the roadway’s designation to I-84, and requiring a renumbering of exits between East Hartford and the Massachusetts border, including the well-known exit 100, which led to Route 195 and UConn.  Today, it’s known as Exit 68 off I-84, the exit of champions.

In fact, I-84's intended east end has been changed twice, from the Mass Pike (I-90, Sturbridge) to Providence and back, according to the Connecticut Roads website. In late 1968, the Federal Highway Administration approved a new Interstate connection from Hartford to Providence, to be part of a rerouted I-84. The existing section of I-84 from Manchester to I-90 was redesignated I-86 (see map).

In 1970 and 1971, Connecticut built two isolated sections of the eastern I-84, in Manchester and Willimantic. Both were signed I-84. However, in 1982 Rhode Island canceled its portion of the highway, citing concerns over exitsthe Scituate reservoir, Providence's main fresh water supply. In August 1983, Connecticut canceled its portion, and the I-84 to I-86 numbering was rolled back.

The section of I-84 in Manchester became I-384, and the Willimantic section became part of US 6. This was made official on Dec. 12, 1984. The state is still trying to get an 11-mile freeway built between those two sections, from Bolton to Willimantic.

Also in the works for the coming years:  DOT has said the Route 2A exit numbers for Mohegan Sun Boulevard, the main road leading in and out of Mohegan Sun casino, will be changed.  Both the eastbound and westbound numbers will be changed to 6 from the current number 2, according to the DOT.

How Numbers Sound Can Create Misperceptions of Value, Study Finds

Harvard Business Review is featuring three-year old research by UConn marketing professor Robin A. Coulter that found people unconsciously associate certain letter sounds, such as the "s" and "i" in "sixty-six," with smallness and the "t" and "oo" of "twenty-two" with largeness, and these associations interfere with the accuracy of their quantitative perceptions.  Next time you hear an advertisement on tv or radio featuring a sale price, the findings would be good to keep in mind.

The  2010 study by Keith S. Coulter and Robin A. Coulter, “Small Sounds, Big Deals: Phonetic Symbolism Effects in Pricing” is receiving renewed attention as part of Harvard Business Review’s “Daily Stat,” an email newsletter sent to subscribers.  It was featured as the lead item on May 15, 2013.

The study findings, publishedLaw-of-Large-Numbers in the Journal of Consumer Research, pointed out that when sale prices are said in English, an $11.00 to $7.88 (28.4%) discount is perceived as greater than a $10.00 to $7.01 (29.9%) discount; however, when these same prices are said in Chinese, the latter discount is correctly perceived as greater.  So, the sounds of the language matter.

"Number sounds impact price magnitude perceptions only when consumers mentally rehearse a sale price, as they might do when comparing items on a shopping trip," Science Daily reported when their research was initially released. The study’s bottom line: the mere sounds of numbers can non-consciously affect and distort numerical magnitude perceptions.

Dr. Robin Coulter is Department Head and Professor of Marketing at the UConn School of Business. She teaches in the undergraduate, Executive M.B.A. and Ph.D. programs in the areas of consumer behavior, integrated marketing communications, and marketing management. Dr. Coulter’s research interests include cross-cultural consumer behavior, branding, advertising effects and effectiveness, pricing, and services marketing.  She has published in a variety of marketing and social science journals, and participated last month in the Geno Auriemma UConn Leadership Conference.

Keith Coulter is Associate Professor of Marketing at Clark University.  He is a UConn graduate, and was a visiting Assistant Professor at Eastern Connecticut State University in the ‘90’s

The study authors found that “small sounds can create the impression of big deals” and that number-sound effects were more likely to occur when a frame of reference (a regular price) was provided, Science Daily reported, noting that the sounds of numbers at times created false impressions of value. For example, participants perceived a $10 item marked down to $7.66 to be a greater discount than a $10 item discounted to $7.22.

Early Identification of Mental and Behavioral Health Issues Critical, CT Study Finds

A recent report by the Connecticut-based Center for Children’s Advocacy revealed that early warning signs of mental and behavioral health problems are often not identified until middle school years, but could be uncovered much earlier. In any given year, the report noted that “about one out of every five Connecticut children (87,500 to 125,000) struggles with a mental health condition or substance abuse problem. More than half receive no treatment.”

With a grant from the Connecticut Health Foundation, Dr. Andrea Spencer, dean of the School of Education at Pace University and educational consultant to the Center for Children’s Advocacy, examined children’s educational records to identify how early these warning signs appear.  The report, issued in September 2012, documents the direct link between undiagnosed and unaddressed mental health issues with increases in school suspensions, expulsions and entry into the state’s juvenile justice system.  It also noted that:

  • Over 70% of students diagnosed with mental illness and behavioral health problems by middle school exhibited warning signs by second grade.
  • Almost 25% exhibited red flags during pre-Kindergarten years.

Early indicators, according to the report, included developmental and health issues, adverse social factors and exposure to trauma. The report, entitled “Blind Spot,” found that 25 percent of the children studied had documented traumatic experiences in their records  It recommends implementation of a series of initiatives:

  • Improve screening for mental health risk factors
  • Improve referral to early intervention services (mental health and special education)
  • Improve collaboration between service providers
  • Improve community and parent education about risk factors and support available
  • Improve training and accountability for school staff and other providers

“Red flags for mental and behavioral health problems are often clear before the end of second grade,” said Dr. Spencer. “It is imperative that we improve screening and identification so support for these children can be provided before their academic careers are at risk.”

As a result of this report, the Center for Children’s Advocacy - a Connecticut nonprofit that provides legal support for abused and neglected children - introduced a statewide policy initiative to improve the quality and standard of care for children insured through the Connecticut’s Medicaid (HUSKY A) plan.

In addition, the Center noted that the Connecticut Department of Social Services (DSS) has agreed to convene a task force that includes representatives from the Center for Children’s Advocacy, Department of Children and Families, Department of Mental Health & Addiction Services, Office of Policy and Management, Value Options (contracted provider of mental health services under HUSKY/ Medicaid), American Academy of Pediatrics (CT Chapter), Academy of Child & Adolescent Psychiatrists (CT Chapter), Head Start, developmental pediatricians, Birth to Three Program, Department of Education, and the Connecticut Health Development Institute.

The task force is to review current regulations, make recommendations regarding screening and treatment protocols, and provide recommendations on reimbursement rates for pediatric providers, according to a news release issued by the Center.