BGSes in California

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Jim Ellwanger

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Dec 4, 2000, 3:00:00 AM12/4/00
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In article <20001204223729...@ng-fa1.aol.com>,
sagi...@aol.com (SagiGemi) wrote:

> Just adding all the new BGSs takes a lot of time. If they added exit
> number tabs to all the freeway exits in California, they would be
> there forever and ever and ever... that is why the CA freeways have
> no exit numbers (except on US 101 and I-5 near the East L.A.
> Interchange, and on the 110 from the 101 to Figueroa St.)

Huh? There's no reason why by-milepost exit number tabs couldn't be
there forever and ever and ever, unless the U.S. gets invaded by Canada
and forced to change to metric.

Of course, some of us hope that adding exit signs to California BGSs
would be combined with a pledge by Caltrans to put BGSs on some sort of
replacement schedule the way they are in every other state, so they
wouldn't have to be there forever and ever and ever.

--
Jim Ellwanger <trai...@mindspring.com>
<http://trainman1.home.mindspring.com/> is goo gooey.
"Big risk, big reward...in the Twilight Zone."

Kevin Burnett

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Dec 4, 2000, 7:39:37 PM12/4/00
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I've seen that Caltrans has started replacing some of the BGSes around with
new ones that appear to conform more to the ones used in other states.

Is there some sort of plan behind this? Wouldn't it make sense for them
to start adding, say, exit numbers when they replace the signs?

--
Kevin Burnett http://www.catnip.org/


Ben Kiene

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Dec 4, 2000, 10:34:05 PM12/4/00
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Kevin Burnett wrote:

> I've seen that Caltrans has started replacing some of the BGSes around with
> new ones that appear to conform more to the ones used in other states.
>
> Is there some sort of plan behind this? Wouldn't it make sense for them
> to start adding, say, exit numbers when they replace the signs?
>

Good. California BGSes are butt ugly, IMO. "Just stick a shield wherever it
barely fits" must have been the standard there along with "Centering words
isn't necessary." Exit numbers would be nice too. Are they finally using
reflective sheeting instead of button copy? I noticed a few BGSes in Oregon
that used a combination of reflective sheeting for the background and button
copy for the lettering and outline, which doesn't seem like a bad idea.

Ben Kiene

SagiGemi

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Dec 4, 2000, 10:37:29 PM12/4/00
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Just adding all the new BGSs takes a lot of time. If they added exit number
tabs to all the freeway exits in California, they would be there forever and
ever and ever... that is why the CA freeways have no exit numbers (except on US
101 and I-5 near the East L.A. Interchange, and on the 110 from the 101 to
Figueroa St.)

Travis Zeal
Mesa,AZ
Sagi...@aol.com
(Sun in Sagittarius,Moon in Gemini)


Kevin Burnett

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Dec 5, 2000, 1:00:20 AM12/5/00
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On 05 Dec 2000 03:37:29 GMT, SagiGemi <sagi...@aol.com> wrote:
>Just adding all the new BGSs takes a lot of time. If they added exit number
>tabs to all the freeway exits in California, they would be there forever and
>ever and ever... that is why the CA freeways have no exit numbers (except on US
>101 and I-5 near the East L.A. Interchange, and on the 110 from the 101 to
>Figueroa St.)

I meant adding the exit numbers to the new BGSs as the old signs are
replaced.

I was under the impression that the reason why the exit numbers weren't
put up all over the state was because Caltrans wasn't given the money for it.

Putting them on the new signs as they are put up would be an insignificant
amount of money.

Kevin Burnett

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Dec 5, 2000, 1:05:34 AM12/5/00
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The new signs are a lighter shade of green, have reflective sheeting, and
contain no button-copy. They are, IMHO, much easier to read than the old
ones.

Some of the old, button-copy signs in the Bay Area are really ugly, with
horrible stains and rust marks where water as flowed around the button-copy.

I also noticed that in Santa Clara county, at least, the VTA have decided
to replace all of the old signs with the new variety.

John David Galt

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Dec 5, 2000, 3:00:00 AM12/5/00
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Kevin Burnett wrote:

>> I've seen that Caltrans has started replacing some of the BGSes around with
>> new ones that appear to conform more to the ones used in other states.

You're probably referring to the reflectorized signs, which have been
discussed here when the change began about a year ago.

>> Is there some sort of plan behind this? Wouldn't it make sense for them
>> to start adding, say, exit numbers when they replace the signs?

They're being put up as old signs need replacing, not all at once, so
trying to add exit numbers in the process would create more confusion
than it solves.

Ben Kiene wrote:

> Good. California BGSes are butt ugly, IMO. "Just stick a shield wherever it
> barely fits" must have been the standard there along with "Centering words
> isn't necessary."

California BGSes are pretty good when first put up. The big problem
as I see it is that once the sign is up, if a road is renamed or
renumbered, CalTrans will insist on "patching" the existing sign and
NOT changing its size or position. So for example, if "Grove St." is
changing to "Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.", you wind up with goofy
signs where only that street name is in extremely tiny type (even on
signs that list the mileage to the next three exits). And if two new
lanes are added to the right of the one that an "Exit 1/4 mile" arrow
used to point to, the sign stays in its existing, now confusing,
location but with the arrow covered up.

I wonder if CalTrans even keeps a list of its BGSes? They ought to,
so they'd be able to detect and correct these goofs as part of the
road changes or street-name changes that lead to them.

But why should they care? They're a tax-funded monopoly.

Brandon M. Gorte

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Dec 5, 2000, 3:00:00 AM12/5/00
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Ben Kiene <bki...@home.com> wrote:
: Kevin Burnett wrote:

Button copy on reflective sheeting is pretty much widespread in the
Chicago area. IDOT uses it for their new overhead signs (which, BTW, are
lit at night from below). The Tollway does much the same for the BGSs.

Brandon Gorte - bmg...@hotmail.com - Joliet, IL
- bmg...@mtu.edu - MTU, Houghton, MI
http://www.crosswinds.net/~bmgorte/freeway.html
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
"Our lady of blessed acceleration don't fail me now!" - Elwood Blues

James Lin

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Dec 5, 2000, 3:00:00 AM12/5/00
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"Kevin Burnett" <k...@usenet.catnip.org> wrote in message
news:slrn92p1d...@yellow.rahul.net...

> I also noticed that in Santa Clara county, at least, the VTA have decided
> to replace all of the old signs with the new variety.

All of which old signs? I assume not freeway signs, since Caltrans is in
charge of those.

- Jim
--
James Lin
jl...@ugcs.caltech.edu

http://www.ugcs.caltech.edu/~jlin/


John David Galt

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Dec 5, 2000, 3:00:00 AM12/5/00
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James Lin wrote:

>> I also noticed that in Santa Clara county, at least, the VTA have decided
>> to replace all of the old signs with the new variety.

> All of which old signs? I assume not freeway signs, since Caltrans is in
> charge of those.

Yes, freeway signs. CalTrans does the work, but to get signs replaced
unnecessarily, whoever wants it done has to provide the funds. VTA is.

Kevin Burnett

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Dec 5, 2000, 7:58:43 PM12/5/00
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On Tue, 5 Dec 2000 16:39:11 -0800, James Lin <jl...@ugcs.caltech.edu> wrote:
>"Kevin Burnett" <k...@usenet.catnip.org> wrote in message
>news:slrn92p1d...@yellow.rahul.net...
>
>> I also noticed that in Santa Clara county, at least, the VTA have decided
>> to replace all of the old signs with the new variety.
>
>All of which old signs? I assume not freeway signs, since Caltrans is in
>charge of those.

On the county-maintained expressways/roads.

David J. Greenberger

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Dec 6, 2000, 12:55:38 AM12/6/00
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Brandon M. Gorte <bmg...@mtu.edu> writes:

> Button copy on reflective sheeting is pretty much widespread in the
> Chicago area. IDOT uses it for their new overhead signs (which, BTW,
> are lit at night from below). The Tollway does much the same for the
> BGSs.

I wonder why that is. Down here IDOT doesn't use button copy (nor does
it light the signs from below, but that's not necessary here).
--
David J. Greenberger
Department of Computer Science, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
On the Road: http://david.twu.net/roads/

Kevin Burnett

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Dec 6, 2000, 1:52:29 AM12/6/00
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On Tue, 05 Dec 2000 17:14:05 -0800, John David Galt
<j...@diogenes.sacramento.ca.us> wrote:

>James Lin wrote:
>
>>> I also noticed that in Santa Clara county, at least, the VTA have decided
>>> to replace all of the old signs with the new variety.
>
>> All of which old signs? I assume not freeway signs, since Caltrans is in
>> charge of those.
>
>Yes, freeway signs. CalTrans does the work, but to get signs replaced
>unnecessarily, whoever wants it done has to provide the funds. VTA is.

Actually, with my Santa Clara county remarks, I was specifically referring to
the signs on Central (G6), Foothill (G5), Lawrence (G2), Montague (G4) and
San Tomas (G4) expressways. From what I have seen, all of the old button-copy
signs on those roads have been replaced. Dunno about Almaden (G8) and
Capitol (G21) expressways.

James Lin

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Dec 8, 2000, 9:48:02 PM12/8/00
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"Kevin Burnett" <k...@usenet.catnip.org> wrote in message
news:slrn92r3q...@yellow.rahul.net...

> On Tue, 5 Dec 2000 16:39:11 -0800, James Lin <jl...@ugcs.caltech.edu>
wrote:
> >"Kevin Burnett" <k...@usenet.catnip.org> wrote in message
> >news:slrn92p1d...@yellow.rahul.net...
> >
> > > I also noticed that in Santa Clara county, at least, the VTA have
> > > decided to replace all of the old signs with the new variety.
> >
> >All of which old signs?
>
> On the county-maintained expressways/roads.

Ah, that makes sense. Come to think of it, I have seen more reflective signs
on county expressways. But since I don't drive on them as often, I don't
notice as readily.

James Muiter

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Dec 9, 2000, 6:48:02 PM12/9/00
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In article <trainman1-48ECD...@news.mindspring.com>, Jim
Ellwanger <trai...@mindspring.com> wrote:

> .. a pledge by Caltrans to put BGSs on some sort of

> replacement schedule the way they are in every other state, so they

> wouldn't have to be there forever and ever and ever.

To comment on this: The California BGSes may get ugly due to rust
staining, but they're sure durable.

There are plenty of signs on the Bay Area's I-280, for example, that
don't need replacing even 30+ years after being installed.

As a matter of fact, with the way that some of the newer BGS have been
installed, with h u g e l e t t e r s p a c i n g that makes the text
quite u n r e a d a b l e, hanging onto the older ones makes a bit of
sense.

As I understand it, the prime force behind the need to replace signs in
other states is that the reflectorized ones have a lifetime of about
10-15 years before they start to peel apart.

[Calif.'s signs don't have that problem, generally, just rust spotting--
wait till they figure out that the new signs create guaranteed jobs for
sign-changers!]

The change that's strange to me is that these days you see patches
peeling off revealing that all the overhead signs that used to say "EXIT
1/2 MILE" that were changed to say "1/2 MILE". That must have taken a
lot of somebody's time, effort and money just to cover over the word
"EXIT". Strange.

Just a thought. Best,

James

--
James H. Muiter // <mui...@spamcop.net>
Michigan, USA .@.. ..@... ...@....

"Trust me -- If anybody knows about denial, it's not me."

Jim Ellwanger

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Dec 9, 2000, 7:33:19 PM12/9/00
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In article <muiter-A09E46....@news.mindspring.com>, James
Muiter <mui...@spamcop.net> wrote:

> In article <trainman1-48ECD...@news.mindspring.com>, Jim
> Ellwanger <trai...@mindspring.com> wrote:
>
> > .. a pledge by Caltrans to put BGSs on some sort of
> > replacement schedule the way they are in every other state, so they
> > wouldn't have to be there forever and ever and ever.
>
> To comment on this: The California BGSes may get ugly due to rust
> staining, but they're sure durable.

If it were just the rust staining, it might not be too much of a
problem, but it's also the letters turning gray, the reflectors missing,
the lights burned out or missing, the cramming new street names and
route shields onto old signs, and the acres of greenout.

--
Jim Ellwanger <trai...@mindspring.com>
<http://trainman1.home.mindspring.com/> can't be beat with a stick.
"Who knew a 1989 World Almanac could be such a powerful joke-writing tool?"

Mike Ballard

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Dec 14, 2000, 11:02:56 PM12/14/00
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The new signs are quite ugly too. As an employee of Caltrans I think it
is the worst sign idea yet to come down the pike. The extra costs of
these signs will be immense. See, the ones that Caltrans uses normally
last around 30-40 years if kept up properly. The new signs last
somewhere around 10 years tops before they lose their reflectivity. Then
they are quite useless. So, add extra costs of crews plus new signs
every 10-15 years instead of 30-40 years...

Just because every other state uses them doesn't mean it is a good idea.

--

Mike Ballard
mi...@scvresources.com
Geologist, Cyclist, Highway Historian, Railroad Fan, Road Map Collector.

Santa Clarita, California, United States of America

Virtual Tours of US 6, US 99, and the Ridge Route are at :
http://www.scvresources.com/highways/highway.htm

Visit the Santa Clarita Resources Page at :
http://www.scvresources.com

History, Geology, Highway, and Local Bicycling Information


Ralph Herman

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Dec 14, 2000, 11:53:43 PM12/14/00
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"Mike Ballard" <mi...@scvresources.com> wrote in message
news:3A3997F0...@scvresources.com...

> The new signs are quite ugly too. As an employee of Caltrans I think it
> is the worst sign idea yet to come down the pike. The extra costs of
> these signs will be immense. See, the ones that Caltrans uses normally
> last around 30-40 years if kept up properly. The new signs last
> somewhere around 10 years tops before they lose their reflectivity. Then
> they are quite useless. So, add extra costs of crews plus new signs
> every 10-15 years instead of 30-40 years...
>
> Just because every other state uses them doesn't mean it is a good idea.
>

Every other state is in general compliance of the Fed MUTCD, Caltrans BGSs
are not. Other states BGS can be read in rolling blackouts... a lot of
Caltrans signing cannot. Ohter states (such as TX and FL) have routine sign
upgrades in their budgets, Caltrans does not. It isn't just the
reflectivity Mike, sign standards have changed since the early 1960's...
i.e., lane drop EXIT ONLY arrows typically are not placed over the lane to
be dropped. and I won't even get into exit numbers and mileposts.

Personally, I would see current Fed MUTCD sign standards on my freeways,
rather than poor, outdated signage 40 years old.

And BTW, the 40+ year old overlayed to death BGS are NOT properly
maintained, IMO.

IMO, Caltrans does some things really well (such as structures and roadway
design), but signage is the among the worst in the nation.

Sorry Mike, but IMO your post is typical "head in the sand" Caltrans logic.
IMO Caltrans signing is broken, and it needs fixin'. Take a ride to NV and
AZ to see how it should be done.

Ralph

Mike Ballard

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Dec 15, 2000, 1:06:15 AM12/15/00
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Take a ride on any new section of highway in California and see how it
is done. Not every sign in CA is overlayed or worn out. I've seen many
signs replaced that needed replacing using the button-copy style.
Signing has changed since the 1960's but some of them are still as valid
today as they were then. If a sign is overlayed too much, then it should
be replaced. But to go to that ugly green isn't what I had in mind.
Budgeting sign replacements isn't the issue. It is the extra, unneeded
cost to the taxpayer for replacing them twice as often.

Mike Ballard

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Dec 15, 2000, 1:14:20 AM12/15/00
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The thing that needs to be understood here is the issue with stains on
the signs. The problem there is a Caltrans error indeed. Back in the mid
1980's, almost all of the existing signage (the older porcelain-enamel
signs) were retrofitted with reflectors. They were glued onto existing
signs. These became areas that dirt and grime was attracted to. The glue
also stains the sign as it seeps and wears out. The new signs are
button-copy with a dark green background. These signs are far better to
the retrofitted signs and show up quite well. They also have the
advantage of lasting many years. So, the signs that were retrofitted
should be eventually replaced, or cleaned if that is possible (it is,
I've seen the results and they look like new) with the newer button-copy
signs. Why replace long lasting, easy to read signs with short lived
signs that once worn out, become quite useless?

Roaddog

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Dec 15, 2000, 4:37:11 PM12/15/00
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>Take a ride on any new section of highway in California and see how it
>is done. Not every sign in CA is overlayed or worn out. I've seen many
>signs replaced that needed replacing using the button-copy style.
>Signing has changed since the 1960's but some of them are still as valid
>today as they were then. If a sign is overlayed too much, then it should
>be replaced. But to go to that ugly green isn't what I had in mind.
>Budgeting sign replacements isn't the issue. It is the extra, unneeded
>cost to the taxpayer for replacing them twice as often.
>
I like seeing the old button copy signs, because I think they have more
character then the current fully reflectorized versions. Yes, you can see the
FR signs from a greater distance, but I look more towards antiquity for
aesethics then modernism when regarding signage (this is strictly a road
enthusiast based preference/opinion). This is the same reason why I prefer
Interstate shields with the state name.

This is also the reason why I go out of my way at times to photograph versions
of Button copy and I shields with the state name.

It would be nice to see a list of all states that used button copy, and the
years that they were dropped...

Alex
---
aln...@grafxvisual.com
oxenj...@aol.com
---
http://www.aaroads.com

John David Galt

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Dec 15, 2000, 6:34:13 PM12/15/00
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Mike Ballard wrote:

> The new signs are quite ugly too. As an employee of Caltrans I think it
> is the worst sign idea yet to come down the pike. The extra costs of
> these signs will be immense. See, the ones that Caltrans uses normally
> last around 30-40 years if kept up properly. The new signs last
> somewhere around 10 years tops before they lose their reflectivity. Then
> they are quite useless. So, add extra costs of crews plus new signs
> every 10-15 years instead of 30-40 years...

Good point.

I've also begun seeing smaller versions of these new reflective signs on
rural roads such as CA-12 (usually to announce upcoming cross streets).
From a distance, they look exactly like the light green "Freeway Entrance"
signs that California has always used; thus making those no longer unique
in appearance. I think that's a very bad idea.

Ralph Herman

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Dec 15, 2000, 9:40:27 PM12/15/00
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"Mike Ballard" <mi...@scvresources.com> wrote in message
news:3A39B6BC...@scvresources.com...

> The thing that needs to be understood here is the issue with stains on
> the signs. The problem there is a Caltrans error indeed. Back in the mid
> 1980's, almost all of the existing signage (the older porcelain-enamel
> signs) were retrofitted with reflectors. They were glued onto existing
> signs. These became areas that dirt and grime was attracted to. The glue
> also stains the sign as it seeps and wears out. The new signs are
> button-copy with a dark green background. These signs are far better to
> the retrofitted signs and show up quite well. They also have the
> advantage of lasting many years. So, the signs that were retrofitted
> should be eventually replaced, or cleaned if that is possible (it is,
> I've seen the results and they look like new) with the newer button-copy
> signs. Why replace long lasting, easy to read signs with short lived
> signs that once worn out, become quite useless?
>

Why does EVERY OTHER state DOT follow the Fed MUTCD guidelines, Mike????

Ralph


Ralph Herman

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Dec 15, 2000, 10:05:39 PM12/15/00
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"John David Galt" <j...@diogenes.sacramento.ca.us> wrote in message
news:3A3AAA75...@diogenes.sacramento.ca.us...

That "very bad idea" has been used in the rest of the USA for more than 30
years... "Freeway Entrance" signs do not even exist in the Fed MUTCD.
Caltrans should join the rest of the USA and standardize their signage.

Ralph


random thoughts and ideas

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Dec 15, 2000, 10:19:23 PM12/15/00
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>Caltrans should join the rest of the USA and standardize their signage.
>

That's not happening anytime soon, for all the bickering over this.

California has always been independent-minded when it came to highways -
remember those black signs in the early 1950s? I'm not sure that attitude will
change, unless the feds find a way to force them to change, and I don't
entirely disagree with them, except for say exit numbers.


Chris
=============
Anything is better than nothing.

Mike Ballard

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Dec 16, 2000, 2:52:02 AM12/16/00
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So, CA should get rid of FREEWAY ENTRANCE signs? Those are a good idea.

Do you really want to tell the taxpayer that we are going to spend three
times the money on signs when we don't have to? Replacing long-lasting
signs with short-lived signs just doesn't make sense at all. Like I
said, just because the Feds think it is a good idea, doesn't make it so.

Brandon M. Gorte

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Dec 16, 2000, 11:30:49 AM12/16/00
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Roaddog <oxenj...@aol.comspur20> wrote:

[snip]

: This is also the reason why I go out of my way at times to photograph versions


: of Button copy and I shields with the state name.

: It would be nice to see a list of all states that used button copy, and the
: years that they were dropped...

Here's some states that use button copy.

Illinois - IDOT: Started using about 10 years ago on overhead signage in
the Chicago area.

Illinois - ISTHA: Used a lot of button copy on most green and blue signage
until recently. Still uses button copy for the most part on BGSs and
BBSs.

Both IDOT and ISTHA now use reflective backgrounds with button copy
letters and borders.

Indiana: Used button copy until recently on BGSs.

Wisconsin: Used button copy until several years ago. Now replacing with
fully reflective.

Michigan: I've never seen button copy in Michigan.

Ralph Herman

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Dec 16, 2000, 12:17:50 PM12/16/00
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"Mike Ballard" <mi...@scvresources.com> wrote in message
news:3A3B1F21...@scvresources.com...

> So, CA should get rid of FREEWAY ENTRANCE signs? Those are a good idea.
>
> Do you really want to tell the taxpayer that we are going to spend three
> times the money on signs when we don't have to? Replacing long-lasting
> signs with short-lived signs just doesn't make sense at all. Like I
> said, just because the Feds think it is a good idea, doesn't make it so.
>
> --
YES ... if it improves highway safety. That is why the reflective Fed MUTCD
standards were adopted, and non reflectorized backgrounds were eliminated.
Once again Mike, why has EVERY other state DOT readily adopted the Fed MUTCD
sign standards? They cost those states the same money!!!

Secondly, most of the pre-1980 BGS overhead sign placements on urban
freeways are not Fed MUTCD compliant... The cantilevered sign structures
at lane drops need to be replaced. Other state DOTs have modified their
sign placements, why hasn't Caltrans???

Ralph


D Outen

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Dec 16, 2000, 3:25:17 PM12/16/00
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"Brandon M. Gorte" <bmg...@mtu.edu> wrote in message
news:t3n65p1...@corp.supernews.com...

>
> Michigan: I've never seen button copy in Michigan.

There were a couple on I-69 near Durand. They were doing a sign project
around there last summer and I don't recall whether or not they bit the
dust. One part of the project was placing the I-69 trailblazers on
wood posts at an elevation such that they can't be reached without
standing on something. Obviously theft has been a problem.

Dave

Roaddog

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Dec 16, 2000, 7:37:06 PM12/16/00
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>Here's some states that use button copy.
>
>Illinois - IDOT: Started using about 10 years ago on overhead signage in
>the Chicago area.
>
>Illinois - ISTHA: Used a lot of button copy on most green and blue signage
>until recently. Still uses button copy for the most part on BGSs and
>BBSs.
>
>Both IDOT and ISTHA now use reflective backgrounds with button copy
>letters and borders.
>
>Indiana: Used button copy until recently on BGSs.
>
>Wisconsin: Used button copy until several years ago. Now replacing with
>fully reflective.
>
>Michigan: I've never seen button copy in Michigan.
>
Thanks for that insite.
From what I have seen:
Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, South Carolina, Georgia,
Alabama, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas have all used button copy.

States like New York and New Jersey have some newer fully reflectorized signage
with button copy numbering.

Georgia, Alabama, Maryland, Pennsylvania , and now South Carolina have been
going full tilt with replacing button copy signage within the last 10 years.

New Jersey still has many button copy signs, but these have also been going by
the wayside in recent years.

I have never seen a button sign in Delaware, and believe that it was never
used.

Florida must have dropped button copy many many years ago, as the only signs I
have seen remaining with it are bridge identication signs for 9th Ave on I-10,
and one (can't remember) on I-110. The exit tab for I-110's southern terminus,
much to my surprise, was still in button copy.

David J. Greenberger

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Dec 16, 2000, 10:12:49 PM12/16/00
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"Ralph Herman" <rlah...@flashcom.net> writes:

> That "very bad idea" has been used in the rest of the USA for more
> than 30 years... "Freeway Entrance" signs do not even exist in the Fed
> MUTCD. Caltrans should join the rest of the USA and standardize their
> signage.

Long Island has similar signs:
http://david.twu.net/roads/photo/ny/misc/m/ent-lhM.jpg

David J. Greenberger

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Dec 16, 2000, 10:12:50 PM12/16/00
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calv...@aol.comsjsharks (random thoughts and ideas) writes:

> California has always been independent-minded when it came to highways
> - remember those black signs in the early 1950s? I'm not sure that
> attitude will change, unless the feds find a way to force them to
> change, and I don't entirely disagree with them, except for say exit
> numbers.

NYSDOT is independent-minded with road design but not with signage. I
like it that way.

Ralph Herman

unread,
Dec 16, 2000, 11:22:41 PM12/16/00
to

"David J. Greenberger" <m...@david.twu.net> wrote in message
news:wkwvcz9...@twu.net...

Not the same sign design or (more importantly) deployment.... see

http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/traffops/signtech/signdel/signchart/guide.htm for
the G92 sign and

http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/traffops/signtech/signdel/trafman.htm for policy
statements with links to illustrations.

I have no problem with the "Freeway Entrance" signs per se, it is how
Caltrans deploys them. Nevada, Washington State (to name a few) also use
the Caltrans sign design, and their deployment is much more in line with Fed
MUTCD, The NYSDOT "ENTRANCE" panel on the marker assembly at the beginning
of the ramp is also within MUTCD guidelines IMO.

Ralph

Kevin Burnett

unread,
Dec 17, 2000, 2:20:18 AM12/17/00
to
On Fri, 15 Dec 2000 18:40:27 -0800, Ralph Herman <rlah...@flashcom.net>
wrote:

Because in California we know better :-).

Kevin Burnett

unread,
Dec 17, 2000, 2:27:44 AM12/17/00
to
On Fri, 15 Dec 2000 19:05:39 -0800, Ralph Herman <rlah...@flashcom.net>
wrote:
>

So? Just what is so bad about them? I think they're a good idea.

>Caltrans should join the rest of the USA and standardize their signage.

I'd certainly like to see Caltrans use exit numbers. The one problem I have
with so much of the current BGSignage is that a lot of it looks plain ugly.
Horrible rust and water stains running down from the button-copy letters/
shields and the like really annoy me. The other main annoyances from my
vantage point are when letters and shields fall of the current signs and
some of the really horrible-looking green-out used some places.

Kevin Burnett

unread,
Dec 17, 2000, 2:31:32 AM12/17/00
to
On Sat, 16 Dec 2000 09:17:50 -0800, Ralph Herman <rlah...@flashcom.net> wrote:
>
>"Mike Ballard" <mi...@scvresources.com> wrote in message
>news:3A3B1F21...@scvresources.com...
>> So, CA should get rid of FREEWAY ENTRANCE signs? Those are a good idea.
>>
>> Do you really want to tell the taxpayer that we are going to spend three
>> times the money on signs when we don't have to? Replacing long-lasting
>> signs with short-lived signs just doesn't make sense at all. Like I
>> said, just because the Feds think it is a good idea, doesn't make it so.
>>
>> --
>YES ... if it improves highway safety. That is why the reflective Fed MUTCD
>standards were adopted, and non reflectorized backgrounds were eliminated.

I don't know one way or the other about that, not having researched it, but
I know, from my own experience, that the 'new' reflectorized (is that word?)
signs are much easier to read.

>Once again Mike, why has EVERY other state DOT readily adopted the Fed MUTCD
>sign standards? They cost those states the same money!!!
>
>Secondly, most of the pre-1980 BGS overhead sign placements on urban
>freeways are not Fed MUTCD compliant... The cantilevered sign structures
>at lane drops need to be replaced. Other state DOTs have modified their
>sign placements, why hasn't Caltrans???

Do you live in California? Just wondering.

ARMOURER ERIC

unread,
Dec 17, 2000, 10:08:32 AM12/17/00
to
Mike is right, those old BGS's are good for 30 or so years. BUT most are now
35-40 years old I live in CA and I'm still embarassed by theri condition. BTW,
why does CA put most of their route shields on the Rt side of the BGS's
inquiring minds want to know.

Eric

random thoughts and ideas

unread,
Dec 17, 2000, 1:05:48 PM12/17/00
to
>I'd certainly like to see Caltrans use exit numbers.

Really, I think they've given up on that (see their aborted attempt in LA).
Not a good idea.

>The one problem I have
>with so much of the current BGSignage is that a lot of it looks plain ugly.

Well, this is the price you pay when you poorly maintain a sign...or use
greenout everywhere.

David J. Greenberger

unread,
Dec 17, 2000, 2:51:31 PM12/17/00
to
"Ralph Herman" <rlah...@flashcom.net> writes:

> "David J. Greenberger" <m...@david.twu.net> wrote in message
> news:wkwvcz9...@twu.net...
> > "Ralph Herman" <rlah...@flashcom.net> writes:
> >
> > > That "very bad idea" has been used in the rest of the USA for more
> > > than 30 years... "Freeway Entrance" signs do not even exist in the Fed
> > > MUTCD. Caltrans should join the rest of the USA and standardize their
> > > signage.
> >
> > Long Island has similar signs:
> > http://david.twu.net/roads/photo/ny/misc/m/ent-lhM.jpg
>

> Not the same sign design or (more importantly) deployment.... see
>
> http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/traffops/signtech/signdel/signchart/guide.htm for
> the G92 sign and
>
> http://www.dot.ca.gov/hq/traffops/signtech/signdel/trafman.htm for policy
> statements with links to illustrations.

Agreed -- Long Island is just the only place I've seen any signs even
vaguely resembling California's.

Totem pole package? Interesting.

David J. Greenberger

unread,
Dec 17, 2000, 2:51:32 PM12/17/00
to
oxenj...@aol.comspur20 (Roaddog) writes:

> Thanks for that insite.
> From what I have seen:
> Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, South Carolina,
> Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas have all used
> button copy.
>
> States like New York and New Jersey have some newer fully
> reflectorized signage with button copy numbering.

Most New York signage is now fully reflectorized with no button copy.

I'm surprised nobody's mentioned Ohio.

David J. Greenberger

unread,
Dec 17, 2000, 2:51:31 PM12/17/00
to
"David J. Greenberger" <m...@david.twu.net> writes:

> calv...@aol.comsjsharks (random thoughts and ideas) writes:
>
> > California has always been independent-minded when it came to highways
> > - remember those black signs in the early 1950s? I'm not sure that
> > attitude will change, unless the feds find a way to force them to
> > change, and I don't entirely disagree with them, except for say exit
> > numbers.
>
> NYSDOT is independent-minded with road design but not with signage. I
> like it that way.

I lied. New York is the only state I've been to that has truly rounded
corners on BGSs. I like it that way, too.

Richard C. Moeur

unread,
Dec 17, 2000, 6:34:10 PM12/17/00
to
I bring news that may not make many of you happy...
The Button Copy Era is now officially finished.

As of 1998, only three states still used button copy
for highway signs - Arizona, California, and Ohio.

By the middle of 2000, there was only one - Arizona.

Now, even ADOT has decided to cease specifying button
copy for freeway signs, being the last state DOT
to do so.

Why?

The reason is simple - as fewer states called for button
copy, it became more and more expensive to purchase,
and fewer companies stayed in the business of fabricating
button copy. This was exacerbated by the fact that the
metal forming machines used by the sign companies were
old and time and labor intensive to run. Also, maintaining
supplies of replacement button copy was expensive in
terms of purchasing, warehouse space, etc.

Compare this to the current method of making sign copy -
slap the material on the router table, step back,
and watch the computer cut perfect legends & borders
in any size you want.

Most of the old-line manufacturers of button copy
are out of the business - Interstate, Zumar, etc.
To my knowledge, only one company still has the
capability to make new button copy - Safeway Signs,
in Adelanto, California.

My I-17 Maricopa TI to Thomas Road sign update
project in Phoenix, which is nearly complete, will
probably be the last major sign project in the
United States to use button copy. In fact, supplies
of button copy have become so scarce that the sign
manufacturer has had to look all over the US just
to find enough copy to finish this one project
(including raiding Ohio's leftover supply).

All other ADOT projects from now on will use either
direct-applied or demountable prismatic reflective copy.

So, let us now say a fond farewell and job well done to
button copy. Once, it was the supreme form of highway
legend, but now has become a victim of advances in
reflective materials, computerization, and simple
economics.

--
Richard C. Moeur, P.E., WC7RCM, E.C.I., whatever...
Practicing Traffic Engineer (I'll get it right someday...)
Phoenix, Arizona, USA
"Life is just one W1-5 after another, until the W14-1"
The opinions expressed are not necessarily those of
the Arizona Department of Transportation. Really.
WWW: http://members.aol.com/rcmoeur/
E-Mail: rcm...@aol.com, NOT rcm...@earthlink.net. Tnx!

J.P. and Earl

unread,
Dec 17, 2000, 7:37:38 PM12/17/00
to

"David J. Greenberger" <m...@david.twu.net> wrote in message
news:wkr9378...@twu.net...

> oxenj...@aol.comspur20 (Roaddog) writes:
>
> > Thanks for that insite.
> > From what I have seen:
> > Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, South Carolina,
> > Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas have all used
> > button copy.
> >
> > States like New York and New Jersey have some newer fully
> > reflectorized signage with button copy numbering.
>
> Most New York signage is now fully reflectorized with no button copy.


I think the only interstate in Upstate N.Y. with mostly button copy signage
is I-84. I think if NYSDOT was still maintaining I-84, the signage would
have been replaced by now, but the Thruway Authority doesn't do "massive"
sign rehabilitations, instead they seem to replace signs haphazardly, and
eventually get all the signs replaced.

J.P. Wing

J.P. and Earl

unread,
Dec 17, 2000, 7:48:58 PM12/17/00
to

"David J. Greenberger" <m...@david.twu.net> wrote in message
news:wkwvcz8...@twu.net...

> "David J. Greenberger" <m...@david.twu.net> writes:
>
> > calv...@aol.comsjsharks (random thoughts and ideas) writes:
> >
> > > California has always been independent-minded when it came to highways
> > > - remember those black signs in the early 1950s? I'm not sure that
> > > attitude will change, unless the feds find a way to force them to
> > > change, and I don't entirely disagree with them, except for say exit
> > > numbers.
> >
> > NYSDOT is independent-minded with road design but not with signage. I
> > like it that way.
>
> I lied. New York is the only state I've been to that has truly rounded
> corners on BGSs. I like it that way, too.

I believe Virginia, NC and Florida have rounded corners too... though I
would like to think that N.Y. was unique in that respect. :)

J.P. Wing


Roaddog

unread,
Dec 17, 2000, 8:26:06 PM12/17/00
to
>So, let us now say a fond farewell and job well done to
>button copy. Once, it was the supreme form of highway
>legend, but now has become a victim of advances in
>reflective materials, computerization, and simple
>economics.

Makes sense given the costs involved. Fully Reflectorized sheeting signs will
reamin the norm, until the next innovation comes out (whenever that will be)...

I'll still photograph whatever button copy sign I come across...

Rob

unread,
Dec 17, 2000, 9:11:00 PM12/17/00
to
On Sun, 17 Dec 2000 19:51:32 GMT, "David J. Greenberger"
<m...@david.twu.net> wrote:

>oxenj...@aol.comspur20 (Roaddog) writes:
>
>> Thanks for that insite.
>> From what I have seen:
>> Vermont, New York, Pennsylvania, Maryland, New Jersey, South Carolina,
>> Georgia, Alabama, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas have all used
>> button copy.
>>
>> States like New York and New Jersey have some newer fully
>> reflectorized signage with button copy numbering.
>
>Most New York signage is now fully reflectorized with no button copy.

Unless they have been replaced in the last few months, there are some
old button copy signs (in very poor condition) along 17/86 around
Elmira.

Mark Roberts

unread,
Dec 17, 2000, 9:37:14 PM12/17/00
to
David J. Greenberger <m...@david.twu.net> had written:

|
| Most New York signage is now fully reflectorized with no button copy.
|
| I'm surprised nobody's mentioned Ohio.

Likewise, the omission of Missouri is surprising. Missouri had new
button copy as late as 1998 (intermixed with fully reflectorized
signs).


--
Mark Roberts | "Oh, I've been on TV too long."
Oakland, Cal. | -- KRON-TV anchor Suzanne Shaw, 6 pm, 11-29-2000 during
| her last newscast on KRON just before a break....

Matthew D. Jones

unread,
Dec 17, 2000, 9:54:06 PM12/17/00
to
In Massachusetts, the standard for new Mass. Highway BGS is reflectorized,
except that the interstate shields on BGS are button copy (but not state and
U.S. Shields). There has been a fairly through replacement of BGS signs on
the interstate system from 1992-1999 and most are up to the current
standard.

I don't recall button copy being used extensively on Mass. BGS except in
"first generation" expressway/freeway signage (lettering all caps) from the
50s and 60s. However, the Mass Pike used button copy until a resigning
within the last decade or so.

Mark Roberts <mark...@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:slrn93qu2q....@shell.tsoft.com...

Ralph Herman

unread,
Dec 17, 2000, 10:14:06 PM12/17/00
to

"Kevin Burnett" <k...@usenet.catnip.org> wrote in message
news:slrn93oqt...@yellow.rahul.net...
Unfortunately yes.

Ralph


SPUI

unread,
Dec 17, 2000, 10:31:59 PM12/17/00
to

"Matthew D. Jones" <mjon...@mediaone.net> wrote in message
news:i%e%5.8382$1M.21...@typhoon.ne.mediaone.net...

> In Massachusetts, the standard for new Mass. Highway BGS is reflectorized,
> except that the interstate shields on BGS are button copy (but not state
and
> U.S. Shields). There has been a fairly through replacement of BGS signs on
> the interstate system from 1992-1999 and most are up to the current
> standard.
>
> I don't recall button copy being used extensively on Mass. BGS except in
> "first generation" expressway/freeway signage (lettering all caps) from
the
> 50s and 60s. However, the Mass Pike used button copy until a resigning
> within the last decade or so.

A couple examples of old button copy BGSes at the I-90/I-93 interchange are
at http://www.aaroads.com/iterminus/i-90/index.html .


Mike Ballard

unread,
Dec 18, 2000, 12:18:40 AM12/18/00
to
If you don't like the state, then MOVE! Or get something done about it.
Unfortunately yes is a poor answer.

Mike Ballard

unread,
Dec 18, 2000, 12:20:57 AM12/18/00
to
Caltrans still uses button copy. It isn't over yet. Many new signs still
have the signature CA color and style.

Mike Ballard

unread,
Dec 18, 2000, 12:23:28 AM12/18/00
to
The reason Caltrans uses greenout/overlay is that is is far cheaper to
do. Those BGS's cost somewhere around 100k+. Overlaying a sign instead
of replacing it every time is a far better option. If a sign is to have
a great deal of changes, then replacing should be done. Too many
overlays create problems of their own.

Mike Ballard

unread,
Dec 18, 2000, 12:26:43 AM12/18/00
to
Caltrans deploys FREEWAY ENTRANCE at the entrance. They are large and
obvious. They are also reflective. Your problem is?

David J. Greenberger

unread,
Dec 18, 2000, 1:16:35 AM12/18/00
to
Rob <fpc...@hotmail.com> writes:

AFAIK they're still there, but much of the Binghamton-area signage was
replaced a few months ago.

Alan Hamilton

unread,
Dec 18, 2000, 6:58:43 AM12/18/00
to
On Sun, 17 Dec 2000 23:34:10 GMT, "Richard C. Moeur"
<rcm...@earthlink.net> wrote:

>All other ADOT projects from now on will use either
>direct-applied or demountable prismatic reflective copy.
>
>So, let us now say a fond farewell and job well done to
>button copy. Once, it was the supreme form of highway
>legend, but now has become a victim of advances in
>reflective materials, computerization, and simple
>economics.

In addition to standard fonts and interstate shields, at one time ADOT
used custom button copy in a few cases, like for the Arizona Tourist
Information signs (http://www.arizonaroads.com/us70/824-4.jpg).

My preference would be for demountable copy, though economics may go
against it. Considering how many signs in just Phoenix have had their
button copy peeled off, I'd hate to see a blizzard of Caltrans-style
greenout.
--
/
/ * / Alan Hamilton
* * al...@primenet.com

Arizona Roads -- http://www.arizonaroads.com
No ads, popups or watermarks ever

Brandon M. Gorte

unread,
Dec 18, 2000, 11:46:32 AM12/18/00
to
Richard C. Moeur <rcm...@earthlink.net> wrote:
: I bring news that may not make many of you happy...

: The Button Copy Era is now officially finished.

: As of 1998, only three states still used button copy
: for highway signs - Arizona, California, and Ohio.

: By the middle of 2000, there was only one - Arizona.

IDOT (Illinois) uses button copy extensively on new, fully reflective
backgrounds for their overhead signs that are lit at night. The Tollway
also uses some new button copy intermixed with fully reflective.

So no, the button copy era isn't completely over (yet).

Brandon Gorte - bmg...@hotmail.com - Joliet, IL
- bmg...@mtu.edu - MTU, Houghton, MI
http://www.crosswinds.net/~bmgorte/freeway.html
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
"Our lady of blessed acceleration don't fail me now!" - Elwood Blues

Michael Angelo Ravera

unread,
Dec 18, 2000, 1:01:28 PM12/18/00
to
I would like to see CalTrans use their existing exit numbers (015SBD1022
on I-15 or the (in)famous 080SFO0010L) and simply sign them.

Mark Roberts

unread,
Dec 18, 2000, 1:11:31 PM12/18/00
to
Mike Ballard <mi...@scvresources.com> had written:

| If you don't like the state, then MOVE! Or get something done about it.
| Unfortunately yes is a poor answer.

One's mileage may vary, of course, but I'd be inclined to say,
"Fortunately, yes"! Caltrans isn't perfect. No state DOT is. But
California seems to do a relatively good job in being consistent
with highway signs -- and in breaking that consistency when it
seems warranted (as in those HUGE signs for dangerous curves).
And pavement markings in California are among the best in the
United States. On a foggy night in the hills, that's pretty damned
important.

Many BGSes in the Bay Area could be in much better condition.
There's not much doubt about that. California could also do a much
better job posting reassurance and junction markers (for me,
Missouri and Kansas really set the standard in this regard).
But a lot of other things ARE being done right by Caltrans
when it comes to highway signs and markings. Button copy IS
durable: go to downtown Los Angeles or Pasadena, for instance,
and see those side-street markers, in button copy, that clearly
have been there a long time but are still quite usable.
So, aside from some maintenance that ought to happen at some point,
is there really an issue here?

danielk...@my-deja.com

unread,
Dec 18, 2000, 3:00:50 PM12/18/00
to
"Matthew D. Jones" <mjon...@mediaone.net> wrote:
> I don't recall button copy being used extensively on Mass. BGS except
in
> "first generation" expressway/freeway signage (lettering all caps)
from the
> 50s and 60s.

Some of those signs remain on Route 2 between 128 and Alewife, such as
a sign that just says "ARLMONT [arrow]".

-Dan


Sent via Deja.com
http://www.deja.com/

David J. Greenberger

unread,
Dec 18, 2000, 7:36:58 PM12/18/00
to
"Richard C. Moeur" <rcm...@earthlink.net> writes:

> As of 1998, only three states still used button copy for highway signs
> - Arizona, California, and Ohio.
>
> By the middle of 2000, there was only one - Arizona.

Really? I could have sworn the new signs in Ohio use button copy.
Ohioans, am I wrong?

Ralph Herman

unread,
Dec 18, 2000, 11:01:25 PM12/18/00
to

"Mark Roberts" <mark...@yahoo.com> wrote in message
news:slrn93skqi....@shell.tsoft.com...

> Mike Ballard <mi...@scvresources.com> had written:
> | If you don't like the state, then MOVE! Or get something done about it.
> | Unfortunately yes is a poor answer.
>
> One's mileage may vary, of course, but I'd be inclined to say,
> "Fortunately, yes"! Caltrans isn't perfect. No state DOT is. But
> California seems to do a relatively good job in being consistent
> with highway signs -- and in breaking that consistency when it
> seems warranted (as in those HUGE signs for dangerous curves).
> And pavement markings in California are among the best in the
> United States. On a foggy night in the hills, that's pretty damned
> important.

IIRC, The Fed MUTCD notes oversized signs are permitted where engineering
studies warrant.

If you are refering to the 'cats eyes' road surface reflectors, yes. If you
are refering to the paint, no. Many other DOTs use paint with glass beads
in the thermoplastic strips and paint which reflect much more than the
theromplastic paint Caltrans uses. IIRC, in NYC the NYCDOT contracts out
theromplastic striping (don't remember the contractor), but the striping,
when new, is very easily recognized.


>
> Many BGSes in the Bay Area could be in much better condition.
> There's not much doubt about that.

So why don't they???

California could also do a much
> better job posting reassurance and junction markers (for me,
> Missouri and Kansas really set the standard in this regard).

IMO, except for the freeways, route marker assembly postings are among f the
worst int he USA


> But a lot of other things ARE being done right by Caltrans
> when it comes to highway signs and markings. Button copy IS
> durable: go to downtown Los Angeles or Pasadena, for instance,
> and see those side-street markers, in button copy, that clearly
> have been there a long time but are still quite usable.

But hard to read in low light... and BTW, many of the side street SGSs in
Pasadena and Downtown LA are not Caltrans installations. and many of the
overhead freeway BGS in the areas you mentioned are non-reflective... no
problem, except when the sign illumination fails.

> So, aside from some maintenance that ought to happen at some point,
> is there really an issue here?

Yes, there is, IMO.

Ralph


Kevin Burnett

unread,
Dec 18, 2000, 11:33:25 PM12/18/00
to
On Mon, 18 Dec 2000 18:01:28 GMT, Michael Angelo Ravera
<michael...@wcom.com> wrote:
>I would like to see CalTrans use their existing exit numbers (015SBD1022
>on I-15 or the (in)famous 080SFO0010L) and simply sign them.

What are these numbers? Are t