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.