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South Dakota's inconsistent signage

Started by M86, October 29, 2019, 12:41:05 AM

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SD has some really inconsistent signage. Style, placement, control cities.

Control cities at non-system interchanges are never used East River and most of West River. It's all smaller towns on guide signs.
In Rapid City, Gillette (Wyoming) and Sioux Falls are used here and there.

Even North Dakota has better signage when it comes to font styles of FHWA (and Clearview that they really embraced, but that's dead now). It's consistent. And Minnesota is in a league of itself when it comes to signage.


QuoteAnd Minnesota is in a league of itself when it comes to signage.

One could argue that Minnesota was the key player in what became the MTCD.


Oklahoma is still making highway signs ugly as ever, even after going from the use of Series Gothic to Clearview and back to Series Gothic again.

The choice of typeface used makes little difference in why badly designed traffic signs look bad. Most of the problems are a combination of compositional errors by the "designer" himself and limitations or demands dictated by the higher ups.

I think the biggest problem is too many big green panels are made too small for the message they're carrying. Some "decider" decides he wants to save a bit of money and arbitrarily dictates a smaller, cheaper panel size -all just because. I see this problem all the time in the commercial sign industry. If the sign panel is too small the designer will have no choice but to crowd all of the elements on the panel if he can't make the elements smaller. I even see the letter spacing altered to much tighter kerning on some of these panels. That's not appropriate. Given the fact computers and software is used to design all this stuff these days I think it's a miracle we haven't seen widespread artifical squeezing and stretching of sign elements to make them fit into a cramped space. Lord knows this problem is an epidemic in commercial signage.

With as detailed as the MUTCD and SHS manuals can be, they really do need a more descriptive "cook book" of big green sign templates for showing best practices of organizing elements on the sign panels. For instance, lettering should NEVER run right up to the edge/border of the sign panel. The minimum "white space" between letters and the border should be at least equivalent to 1X-2X the cap letter height. A proper designer's cook book for BGS panels could be a tool to override the knee-jerk tendency of "deciders" to dictate sign panels that are just too small.

Both Clearview and Series Gothic have their own baked-in problems. The character set of Series Gothic is about as primitive as it gets with typefaces. The least thing either could have is a native Small Capitals character set -particularly since the FHWA now mandates large cap/small cap treatment for cardinal direction listings. I cannot stand fake small capitals in graphic design.


I agree as well. Being on I-29 in South Dakota a decent amount, the main control cities northbound between Brookings and the ND/SD border are Watertown, Summit, Sisseton, and New Effington, while southbound is Sisseton, Watertown, Brookings.

As for the physical signs in general, the green exit signs on 29 seem to have been replaced within the past year or two. At least I get the impression because the font looks different


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