Thursday, December 2, 2010

Charlotte's New and Improved Street Signs

Around Charlotte's Government complex there is no argument for stupid as Charlotte's City Council rarely has enough backbone to stand up to to anyone much less the Federal Government.

So over the last couple of years the Charlotte Department of Transportation has been busy making new street signs and spending money as fast as they can so that all of Charlotte's street signs will comply with a federal mandate by 2012.

In a document titled The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, the federal government outlines a number of requirements for street signs. They must be upper and lower case (INDEPENDENCE BLVD, bad! Independence Blvd, GOOD); the letters must be at least six inches high; and they must be on reflective material. And as all good federal regulations go the last part of the law doesn't need to be complied with until 2018.

Charlotte's sign shop, like hundreds of other cities across the country buy materials from a select few companies. Those companies are members of The American Traffic Safety Services Association, which lobbied the federal government for these new regulations. Surprised?

A quick survey of signs along Sharon Amity show that the changes are at best hit and miss. But at least the new signs already seem to meet the 2018 reflectivity standard.

The law regardless of intentions means every street sign from coast to coast must be replaced by 2012 the costs are unimaginable.

The rationale for this change is safety, as is often the case to justify anything. Studies have shown, according to the Federal Highway Administration, that people find it easy to read upper and lower case words, therefore the new signs will be easier to read and will cut down on accidents.

Linda Durrett, Charlotte DOT Communications and Public Relations manager, told Charlotte's New Channel 14:

"It's believed it's easier for an aging population to understand and be able to read those signs".

So why the deadline? Couldn't the new signs be installed as the old signs wear out over the next 15 years or so? Nope. The inconsistent styles might confuse elderly motorists. Suddenly the calls to cut government spending make the Tea Party sound like it's making sense.

Let's at least hope they get the spelling right.

Photo from Justin Ruckman of the CltBlog.


Anonymous said...

I think the new signs are very easy to read. But at what cost?

Its crazy to spend money to replace good signs because of a Federal deadline.

And Cedar you are so right CCC are a bunch of ding dongs.

Anonymous said...

Is that sign for Independence for real?

Anonymous said...

In my metropolitan area some street signs comply except for the size of the lettering and are mostly readable 24/7. Some jurisdictions have white signs with black lettering that is readable in the day and difficult to read at night except for the signs that are mostly rust and are impossible to read anytime.

If you travel much across the nation, variety and condition of street signs is such that finding, recognizing, being readable are all maybe/maybe not and that does not even take into account night or rain or fog or other weather related visibility problems or angle of light across the signs. Finding your way away from your home area is often a wild chase to try to read impossible signs.

Readability and uniformity are good. Cost needs be related to the price of the signs on one street vs the tax base of that street. This directive is good.

Anonymous said...

3M Corporation funded at least one study which lobbied for these new regulations...3M Corporation manufactures the reflective material used in new signs.

Anonymous said...

and we the tax payers are paying for the fed's .

Michael said...

How long before an amendment to the reg requiring it also be en espanol?


Anonymous said...

Cedar you know the potted plants as the Meck Deck calls them would never want to rock the boat or upset the Feds.

Robert Gilims said...

Thanks alot for this great post. I'm not much into reading blogs but I found yours via google when searching for how to Hi-Street Safety Fence for children and this is a great, easy solution that I can't wait to do.. I hope today and stop my 2 year old from going out the end of our yard into the alley, Bushes block majority but theres about 6 feet of open space.