Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Confusing Bypass Road Signs

I was at MassHighway’s public hearing last week.  This meeting was held to get comments on the planned reconstruction of Bridge St., now at 25% design.

The problem is with the new sign above the bridge heading south.  Salem News:

Bridge Street owners worry that every Salem-bound driver unfamiliar with the area — including tourists — will get confused and follow the Salem sign, even if their intended destination is the Bridge Street area, the Common or the waterfront. Meanwhile, the Swampscott sign could cause drivers to think they're actually leaving Salem, they said.

At a meeting Thursday night, they urged MassHighway, which oversees the bypass road project, to post clearer signs, directing drivers onto Bridge Street if they're destined for Salem Willows, the waterfront or Shetland Park.


But MassHighway has refused, saying that two signs sending drivers to Salem could make matters worse.

"We do not want drivers being confused," said Steve McLaughlin, the MassHighway project manager.

Who decides what destinations are listed on highway (“guide”) signs?  According to the Federal Highway Administration:

A: The selection of destinations shown on [a] guide sign is determined by each State and not by the FHWA or the MUTCD [Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, the US standard for traffic signs, marks and signals.] There are two types of destinations: 1) major control cities and 2) supplemental destinations. Recommendations for major control cities are submitted to the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO) and approved by AASHTO's Highway Subcommittee on Traffic Engineering. Supplemental destinations are cities other than control cities, or traffic generators. Each State develops selection policies for supplemental destinations. The policy is based on criteria such as interchange spacing, distance of the city or traffic generator from the interchange, population, and annual attendance of a traffic generator. AASHTO has issued guidelines for the selection of control cities and for supplemental guide signs.

Continuing from the News:

A MassHighway spokesman said yesterday that including other landmarks isn't feasible because of size restrictions on the signs.

"You can only make signs so large, and they can only include so much stuff," said spokesman Klark Jessen.

The sign says "Swampscott" because it's the next community beyond Salem, he said.

Apparently, MassHighway will go by those guidelines and that is that.

I’m reminded of the sign near Copley Sq. to the Pike westbound, marked "New York".  As if you'd see the towers of Manhattan coming out of the tunnel near Kenmore Square.  Likewise, I don't expect to see Phillips Beach around the corner from the bridge.

Rinus Oosthoek, executive director of the Salem Chamber of Commerce, on video:

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Well the Motorcycles seem to be having problems too because they keep going in circles! Yes it's now the Bridge Street ByPass Race way!
If you don't live next to the By-Pass road let me give you a hint of our now incessant noise pollution. As the 10 or more motorcycles raced full blast down the road and then again and again, as a cheering group next to the Carlton School, holding plastics cups of (?) cheered them on, we helplessly watched. Why? Because no-one is patrolling the road or enforcing the laws. As tax paying citizens we should not put up with this. Help protect our neighborhoods, call your Councilor, Rep, Senator, the Mayor, lets do whats right for us not some special interest uninformed outsiders!
Mass Highway needs to get some real engineers and road designers, whoever came up with this plan should be sentenced to life on the ByPass road.