Look Out for Detour Signs on Highway

By: Nick Langille – The Spectator

Accidents on the interstate can be hard to avoid. They cause pile-ups and road congestion, which slows down the flow of traffic. This often leads to inconvenience for drivers and motorists to complete their daily route. To solve this problem, the Maine DOT (Department of Transportation) came up with a solution.

They recognized the need for detouring people from crowded highways to continue the flow of traffic. So, the Maine DOT came up with the idea of emergency route signs. These signs are placed around closed sections of I-95. From Pittsfield to Lincoln, signs can be found along the interstate. Each sign says Emergency Route followed by a letter or double letter. The letters are chosen by the MDOT and each intersection is unique. For example, the intersection on I-95 heading south to Newport is labeled with an “F”, while the long road leading into Hampden reads “NN”. Going northbound, they start with A route, B route, C route, etc. At the moment, there’s no reason for choosing the letter(s) of each sign.

Photo Courtesy of the Maine DOT

Photo Courtesy of the Maine DOT

However, it’s important to follow the signs because each one has an arrow that’s pointing in a different direction. Drivers are encouraged to follow the arrow, so they avoid waiting a possible 3-4 hours to reach their destination. By taking the exit after a sign, it will reroute them via a less busy intersection or highway.


According to the MDOT:

These signs are for times when the freeway (I-95) is closed due to an emergency (crash, etc.).  When this is complete there will be folding pink signs (emergency designated color) at each exit ramp.  The signs will be unfolded if the freeway is closed & traffic will be directed to take the Emergency Route “__” to the next on-ramp.  This provides the traveling public a way to continue to their destination, while preventing traffic from stacking on the freeway for long periods of time.”

Maine’s State Police and DOT are in charge of placing these signs on I-95. These signs will be facing down until they need to be flipped up due to traffic issues. They will stay there on sections of intersections and roads mandated by the state of Maine.

Regional Manager for Region 4 of the Maine Department of Transportation Steven Thebarge notices the benefits of deploying emergency route signs on highways.

It’s an organized way to move traffic in the most efficient manner and it provides them an option to get on [with] their day and inconvenience them in the least way possible,” Thebarge said.

For those individuals who are not familiar with the area, these signs can give them resourceful information to find their location.

EMERGENCY I95 Dtr Maps 4-1-19 (1)

Thebarge suggests drivers pay attention to the message signs as well. They can warn them of an accident up ahead or provide an alternative to reach their destination. Feel free to call the MDOT at 207-624-3000 with any further questions. With the growing number of motor vehicle fatalities, expect to see more emergency route signs on Maine highways in the future.

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