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Where is Exit 341?

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Column by Jim Clark

Quick now! On Interstate 75, where is Exit 341? Anybody? That’s what I thought.
Electronic signs have popped up on all major east-west roads near the Interstate in the past couple of weeks, with large letters blinking at you: “Exit 341 closed 02/11/13.” Then it flashes to something about detours.
To me, these signs prove one thing, that there is a major disconnect between government bureaucrats and the common man, residents such as you and me.
If that same sign read: “Belleview exit closed 02/11/13,” you’d know right away what they were talking about. You wouldn’t have to go to a DOT online site, if you can find it, to see which exit is which on the highway.
It probably never even occurred to the person setting up those signs (we don’t know if it’s FDOT or county, but I’m betting on the state) that the average person probably doesn’t have all the exit numbers memorized. Even longtime residents might have trouble, because the numbers were changed to match mileage signs a little while back. So Exit 341 used to be Exit 67.
If the governor and the Legislature want to make the government more responsive to the people, staff it with real people … not bureaucrats who haven’t lived in the real world for ages.
Along the same lines, some state agencies use state road numbers for all highways, whether that’s the way people know them or not.
If I told you to find State Road 93 on a map, you’d probably go away shaking your head. Yet when traffic accident reports come out, they say an accident happened on State Road 93 which, by the way, is Interstate 75.
Folks in Dunnellon, who are used to seeing U.S. Highway 41 run through their town, might be hard-pressed to find State Road 45 on a map. As you might suspect, it’s the same road.
Same goes for Crystal River, where U.S. Highway 19 runs up and down the West Coast of Florida. But our government will tell you that events on that road occur on State Road 55.
Much of this occurs in news releases, and the burden falls on us to clean it up so you can understand it, and we do try. But the other day I was listening to a local newscast, and they told me something happened on a road that I never heard of … until I found the news release and figured out where it was.
So if you want to do some extra studying, go to the Florida Department of Transportation website and memorize the exit numbers and highway designations. That way you’ll be able to carry on an intelligent conversation … with a bureaucrat.

Jim Clark is the editor of the South Marion Citizen.