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Author Topic: A rant on Tennessee city signage  (Read 1337 times)

US 89

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A rant on Tennessee city signage
« on: November 10, 2020, 05:04:32 PM »

It is probably common knowledge to many people on this forum that route signage in Tennessee cities sucks. US route signage in particular, if present at all, is usually somewhere on a spectrum from misleading to flat out wrong. Below is my rant on the poor signage practices I noticed when I was in Chattanooga this past weekend.

We'll start by coming into town on Broad Street:



Despite what that sign tells you, this is also US 41 south and US 64 east. Wouldn't be too hard to fix, but this is just the tip of the iceberg. Let's head north and get on the US 27 freeway northbound. This is just after crossing the Tennessee River:



That sign suggests that US 127 northbound will begin at the Signal Mountain Rd interchange on US 27. If you take that exit, you get more signage suggesting the same:



And if you make that right, it isn't long before you see a BEGIN US 127 sign:



If you flip around there and come back towards 27, there is no End sign, but there are no more signs for 127 once you hit the US 27 interchange, so you might assume that is where US 127 ends. It's also where this rather gross-looking US 27 sign is posted.



But here's the thing: that interchange is not where US 127 ends. AASHTO and Tennessee's own documentation consider US 127 to extend quite a bit farther south. On paper, 127 extends through the interchange, makes a right on Dayton Blvd, passes through the Stringer Mountain Tunnel, continues southeast on Cherokee Blvd, and turns south over the river to enter downtown on Market Street. But none of that is signed.

Following Market south into downtown, in about a mile is an intersection with Martin Luther King Jr. Drive. That is supposedly the south end of US 127. But the only signage of any kind there is an I-24 trailblazer, which is sort of odd since it's referring to an interchange with US 27/I-124, which is what you use to eventually get to 24.



Interestingly, according to one DOT map I found, US 72 may begin to the right here and then turn south on Broad Street, but most sources seem to suggest 72 begins farther south on Broad Street, at the intersection with Main.

What seems to be more certain is that this intersection also represents the western endpoint of US 76 (yes, 127 and 76 end at the same place), and 76 eastbound begins straight ahead here. But if you go straight here, there is no signage of any kind until you get to Main Street, and what is there is just plain wrong...



...so...this may have been correct in the past, but US 27 has not come anywhere near here for at least the last 30ish years. As far as I can tell, it has been routed on the freeway west of downtown since I-124 signage was removed, and that looks like it happened around 1990. This definitely looks newer than that.

The actual situation here? We're on US 76 east. Main carries US 41. Supposedly, US 76 turns left here to overlap 41 through the eastern part of Chattanooga. And if you make that turn, that is exactly what you'll see:



A couple miles east of there, we get to an intersection with Dodds Avenue, where US 41 south and US 76 east turn right:



But what's that signage in the back? North 41 and west 76 turn left? Wouldn't those be behind us? Let's see what happens if we make that left:



And that is correct. Dodds carries US 11 and US 64, which the eastbound approach completely failed to mention, through the intersection with Main. 41 and 76 do in fact turn right: those signs in the background are just wrong. They would be correct if they were rotated 90 degrees to face northbound traffic, and based on old GSV, that used to be the case. But sometime between 2014 and 2019, the signs got rotated to face eastbound traffic.

(A minor side note: I really don't understand why US 41 goes where it does in Chattanooga. Why does it jump north to Main when it would be much more direct to have it continue concurrent with 11/64 along 23rd and 20th Streets? This doesn't look like an issue of state maintenance since TN has underlying route numbers for everything anyway. Main is SR 8, 23rd/20th is SR 2.)

At any rate, if you head north on Dodds for several blocks, you'll see this well-placed sign:



If you can manage to see behind the bus stop sign, you'll see that US 64 turns right ahead. But what about US 11? Aren't we on that, too?



Don't worry, it's still there. The 11 sign just fell off the last marker.

Let's head south and come into town on Westside Drive, which is US 41 northbound and US 76 westbound. Approaching the light at Dodds Avenue, we get this:



To Tennessee's credit, that is not wrong...but it completely ignores that US 11 south/64 west come down from the right on Dodds and continue straight ahead onto 23rd Street. At least if you go straight, you'll get a reassurance marker confirming that:



And in fact, US 11/64 is actually signed quite well along 23rd Street and through the turns onto Washington St and 20th St.

At Williams Street, there is a reassurance marker for 11/64, along with trailblazer signage for I-24 and US 27. There technically should be a TO with the US 27 marker, but this is such a minor issue compared to some of the other stuff around here.



It's sort of weird that they posted a reassurance there, because the light in the background a couple blocks further down the road is Broad Street. There is absolutely zero signage on the westbound approach to this intersection, but if you studied enough detailed maps in advance, you'd know that Broad carries US 41 and 72, and you need to turn left there to continue south on US 11/west on US 64.

If you make that left turn, aside from a couple I-24 trailblazers, you won't see any route shields until you get to a railroad underpass a mile and a half to the south:



Hmm, so we need to continue straight for US 64 and 72 here. But what about US 11 and 41? Aren't we still on those, too?



Yep, they're still there, but this time with right arrows. That is more accurate, as all four routes bear right here and follow the highway along the base of Lookout Mountain.

This type of thing is not just confined to Chattanooga, either. I haven't spent enough time in other Tennessee cities to really pay attention to this type of thing, but from the limited time I spent in Memphis it appears they suffer from many of the same issues.

</rant>
« Last Edit: November 10, 2020, 05:21:41 PM by US 89 »
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Brian556

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Re: A rant on Tennessee city signage
« Reply #1 on: November 10, 2020, 08:36:27 PM »

I have family that lives west of Chattanooga, so I know all about that. The error at Broad & Cummings is ridiculous. Also, that location needs black/ yellow arrow signs for the sharp turn.

Also, SB US 27 at I-24, US 27 south is omitted from the overheads, making it look like it ends there.

Also, WB Cummings Hwy at Birmingham Hwy (at the community of Tiftonia, which for unknown reasons, does not appear on maps), there is a JCT US 11 sign. US 11 turn left there. You cannot junction a highway that you are already on. This same mistake was recently repeated in Jasper when US 41 was rerouted. The mistake is on WB Main at SR 28. There is also no reassurance sign beyond this intersection.

So, yeah, Tennessee's signage is absolute rubbish
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Mapmikey

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Re: A rant on Tennessee city signage
« Reply #2 on: November 10, 2020, 08:56:58 PM »

US 72-76-127 all end at MLK Blvd at Market.  There is a lonely TN 8 shield at that intersection.

You absolutely can junction a highway you are already on.  You are approaching the US 11 south junction.  What you're describing was common signing practice in Virginia in the 1950s-60s

But yes...Tennessee city route signage is putrid...
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oscar

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Re: A rant on Tennessee city signage
« Reply #3 on: November 10, 2020, 09:27:16 PM »

But yes...Tennessee city route signage is putrid...

As putrid as Virginia city route signage (especially in Richmond)?

City route signage sucks in some other states, too. Tennessee is far from the only offender.
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froggie

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Re: A rant on Tennessee city signage
« Reply #4 on: November 10, 2020, 10:00:29 PM »

^ I'd argue more putrid than Virginia cities.
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Mapmikey

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Re: A rant on Tennessee city signage
« Reply #5 on: November 11, 2020, 07:37:45 AM »

IMO the only Virginia cities that are on (below) par with Tennessee cities are Poquoson, Norfolk and Virginia Beach.  Richmond and Petersburg are slowly heading down this same path.

Some larger Virginia cities are excellent: Hampton, Newport News, Williamsburg come to mind.

Most Virginia cities are passable on signage and insufficient signage is mostly limited to routes that are not through routes.

The only larger Tennessee city I would say is ok is Knoxville, though I don't have much experience in other parts of the state.
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hbelkins

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Re: A rant on Tennessee city signage
« Reply #6 on: November 11, 2020, 07:56:17 PM »

I've noticed all those oddities with Chattanooga. There is really no reason for either US 72 or US 76 to continue along their concurrencies into downtown.

And it's odd that in one place, US 11 north and US 41 south are concurrent, and in another spot, US 11 north and US 41 north are concurrent.

Memphis and Nashville are just as bad. Knoxville used to be, but I think it may have gotten a little better.
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Avalanchez71

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Re: A rant on Tennessee city signage
« Reply #7 on: November 12, 2020, 10:28:37 AM »

I think there is still a US 27 sign on Market St. or at least there was one there long after it wasn't US 27.
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hbelkins

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Re: A rant on Tennessee city signage
« Reply #8 on: November 12, 2020, 07:19:50 PM »

I think there is still a US 27 sign on Market St. or at least there was one there long after it wasn't US 27.

You mean this one?

2013 Chattanooga meet trip - 247 by H.B. Elkins, on Flickr

Lots of Chattanooga pics here...

https://www.flickr.com/photos/hbelkins/albums/72157634603731673/page3
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Avalanchez71

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Re: A rant on Tennessee city signage
« Reply #9 on: November 13, 2020, 03:36:16 PM »

I've noticed all those oddities with Chattanooga. There is really no reason for either US 72 or US 76 to continue along their concurrencies into downtown.

And it's odd that in one place, US 11 north and US 41 south are concurrent, and in another spot, US 11 north and US 41 north are concurrent.

Memphis and Nashville are just as bad. Knoxville used to be, but I think it may have gotten a little better.
I think a bunch of changes were made around 2010 or 2011 when Chattanooga wanted to go to two way traffic in lieu of one way pairs.
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US 89

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Re: A rant on Tennessee city signage
« Reply #10 on: November 13, 2020, 04:48:20 PM »

I think there is still a US 27 sign on Market St. or at least there was one there long after it wasn't US 27.

You mean this one?

snipped

Or maybe the one I posted above, on southbound Market at Main...?



...so...this may have been correct in the past, but US 27 has not come anywhere near here for at least the last 30ish years. As far as I can tell, it has been routed on the freeway west of downtown since I-124 signage was removed, and that looks like it happened around 1990. This definitely looks newer than that.

Brian556

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Re: A rant on Tennessee city signage
« Reply #11 on: November 15, 2020, 08:00:40 PM »

I've noticed all those oddities with Chattanooga. There is really no reason for either US 72 or US 76 to continue along their concurrencies into downtown.

And it's odd that in one place, US 11 north and US 41 south are concurrent, and in another spot, US 11 north and US 41 north are concurrent.

Memphis and Nashville are just as bad. Knoxville used to be, but I think it may have gotten a little better.
I think a bunch of changes were made around 2010 or 2011 when Chattanooga wanted to go to two way traffic in lieu of one way pairs.

I think that change happened way before 2011. Somewhere around 1989 maybe
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