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.