This item is inexplicable, so let's restrain confusion by not trying to explain it. Just the facts, ma'am!

My colleague Paul W. Valentine, in the normal course of reporting duties for this newspaper, drives regularly between Washington and Baltimore. A few months ago he wrote a light-hearted piece reporting that three signs alongside I-95 showed distances that were wildly inconsistent as well as inaccurate.

A few weeks ago, Paul now reports, the Maryland State Highway Administration quietly changed one of the three signs, changing the distance from it to Baltimore from 15 to 21 miles.

But the sign is 16.7 miles from the Baltimore city hall, from which distances supposedly are measured.

It appears, Paul surmises, that the road people changed the mileage to make the measurements between it and the two other signs on the road more consistent with each other, not with the distance to the destination.

For the record: The first sign on I-95 north of the beltway says 28 miles to Baltimore (actual distance, 23.2 miles); the second sign now says 21 miles (actual distance, 16.7 miles), and the third sign says 14 miles (actual distance, 10 miles).