Sunday, January 25, 2009

All in a day's work for a street-sign maker

Ten questions for City of Aurora, Illinois, worker Javier Tovar, who creates many of the street signs and displays around town.,2_5_AU21_STREETSIGN_S1.article

To all of the other stingy street departments who refuse to give away or sell their scrap street signs, take a lesson from Aurora. Tovar says: "Every once in a while someone, a resident or one of the workers for the city, will go, 'Hey, I noticed you made a new sign, what are you going to do with the old sign?' If they catch us in time, we'll hand them over."

Tuesday, December 30, 2008

How it's made: Road signs

The Discovery Channel's "How it's Made" featured a segment on how road signs are manufactured, following a French company as it produces a stop sign. The introduction to the segment touches on the history of directional signage, including the government regulation of sign design, before exploring the silk screening of the fabric and cutting and curing of the steel.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

I'm surprised it took this long

The Federal Highway Administration is in the final stages of the review process for the next update to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, due out in 2009. (The last update on the traffic control "bible" was 2003, and amendments have been made over the course of last few years.)

A couple of common signs will be removed from the manual (including the legend-based "Stop Ahead" and "Yield Alead" signs, in favor of those that are symbol-based) and several new signs will be making their way to America's highways. One addition is the "No Through Traffic" sign... I am pretty sure this is not the official name for it, and I've always wondered why we never had a sign like this a long time ago. It pretty much looks like a "No Straight" sign - a sibling to the No Left Turn, No Right Turn and No U-Turn sign.

A great example of use for this sign: You come to a 4-way intersection and the street directly in front of you is one-way traffic that flows in the opposite direction you are traveling, which today would be marked with Do Not Enter or One Way/Do Not Enter signs.

Thursday, August 21, 2008

Teach your children well

As seen in the Post-Tribune (Northwest Indiana) this summer: a 37-year-old mom was stopped by Portage, Indiana, police and was found with two large traffic barricades in her van. To make matters worse, she had her juvenile daughter and the girl's friend in the van with her, all at about 3:30 in the morning. Said the mom: "I took the barricades as a joke, I guess it was pretty stupid." She said she was going to put them back, just before she was arrested for theft and her vehicle impounded.

Mom and daughter reside in LaCrosse, a small sleepy town south of Portage. If she was going to steal something, she should have gone for the embossed Chicago Motor Club "Play Ground" sign that is still posted there. Durr.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

To hell with traffic signs

This CNN story from back in September 2007 tells of a German community testing a new concept: one where cyclists, vehicles and pedestrian traffic share the same space. The sidewalks have been reduced in height to street-level, and traffic signs have been removed to ease congestion. The problem, they say, is that there are too many road signs. The solution: take them all down.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Relic Hunting in Joliet, Illinois

Here's a photo a friend of mine shot of me while I was taking a picture of an old stop sign we found in Joliet. After we put the final touches on Roadside Relic on a Friday in February, we spent all day Saturday shooting relics in the area. We got a lot of good stuff that weekend, and I'll soon be posting a lot of new photos at

The letters in "STOP" and borders were embossed, and the sign even had the horizontal lines above and below "STOP." That makes me think that this was, at one time, a yellow stop sign. It's non-reflective and is tucked underneath a train bridge near downtown.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A Yellow Stop Sign Find

I was cruising around Fort Wayne on Sunday taking pictures for Roadside Relic when this yellow stop sign caught my eye. If it wasn't for the embossed letters on the back of the sign, I would have totally missed it. So I did a U-turn on Coliseum Blvd. S. and pulled into the parking lot of the old International Harvester complex. The sign is rusty, bent up and needs some care, but it is a really cool relic. This "Stop - Thru Highway" sign at one time guarded traffic from the streetcars that ran down the middle of Coliseum (known back then by another street name). Hopefully, this sign will be around for many more years, and I am surprised that it has made it this long.