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Author Topic: Grandfathered non-standard signage  (Read 20775 times)

briantroutman

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Grandfathered non-standard signage
« on: January 02, 2014, 08:50:03 PM »

The thread on the Connecticut Turnpike got me looking for old photos, and it was odd to see the “italics” on early Connecticut Turnpike signage (like this…)



It seems that most toll roads predating the Interstate System had their own unique standards for signage—the concept of guide signs for high-speed freeways not having been anticipated by the MUTCD yet. I’ve seen photos of black-on-white all-text signage from the ‘40s-era PA Turnpike that bears almost no resemblance to the freeway signing standards that would appear in the MUTCD in 1961.



While these signs have long ago been replaced by signs which comply with the MUTCD (more or less), I have to imagine there was a time in the late ‘50s or early ‘60s when, following a number of newly designated Interstate corridors, you would have encountered a patchwork of different signing schemes inherited from pre-Interstate days. (I’m assuming that compliance with then-current signing standards wasn’t a prerequisite to putting up Interstate shields. Correct me if I'm wrong.) In addition to the above two, what examples of other grandfathered pre-Interstate signing do you have? Anyone have any knowledge as to when these odd signs were replaced?
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Re: Grandfathered non-standard signage
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2014, 09:45:28 PM »

It seems that most toll roads predating the Interstate System had their own unique standards for signage—the concept of guide signs for high-speed freeways not having been anticipated by the MUTCD yet. I’ve seen photos of black-on-white all-text signage from the ‘40s-era PA Turnpike that bears almost no resemblance to the freeway signing standards that would appear in the MUTCD in 1961.

The freeway guide signing standards that appeared in the 1961 MUTCD were heavily patterned after the Interstate guide signing standards that appeared in 1958.  By the latter year many thousands of miles of freeway (including almost 7,000 miles of Interstate) were already open, and every state highway department and turnpike authority responsible for a freeway essentially had its own set of signing standards.

Quote
While these signs have long ago been replaced by signs which comply with the MUTCD (more or less), I have to imagine there was a time in the late ‘50s or early ‘60s when, following a number of newly designated Interstate corridors, you would have encountered a patchwork of different signing schemes inherited from pre-Interstate days. (I’m assuming that compliance with then-current signing standards wasn’t a prerequisite to putting up Interstate shields. Correct me if I'm wrong.)

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority actually kept its own signing standards well after the release of the 2009 MUTCD.  Other states and authorities fell into compliance over time, at varying rates--Caltrans and the Ohio Turnpike Commission were notorious laggards among state DOTs and turnpike authorities respectively.

Quote
In addition to the above two, what examples of other grandfathered pre-Interstate signing do you have? Anyone have any knowledge as to when these odd signs were replaced?

These are very broad questions and are easier to answer by breaking them down state by state and possibly even agency by agency, over multiple threads.  I have historic signing plans for many state DOTs, and some of them pre-date issue of Interstate guide signing standards in 1958.  The Oklahoma Turnpike Authority has original signing plans online for all of the turnpikes it has built.  Traffic Engineering (as the ITE Journal used to be known) ran many advertisements in the 1950's showing pre-Interstate freeway guide signing.  I have a photocopy of the early 1958 California freeway guide signing standards as well as copies of some obsoleted Caltrans guide sign specs (including the original version of the G23 interchange sequence sign with distances shown as miles and tenths).  I have the original signing plans for the New England Thruway.  Yesterday, in a parallel thread on the Northeast board, I posted a link to the plans and supporting materials for a NYSDOT contract to rehabilitate the Major Deegan Expressway, including the original signing plans as well as a 1997 sign replacement.  I have a camera copy of the Traffic Engineering article dealing with development of the signing system for the New York Thruway.  I have the original signing plans for the Kansas Turnpike.  I have copies of FHWA-published reports from the 1960's and 1970's showing pre-Interstate and early Interstate guide signs.  I have a US House subcommittee report on freeway guide signing (the hearings were held in 1967, if memory serves, and the testimony was abundantly accompanied by sign photos).  The list goes on . . .

This topic has actually interested me for a very long time, but the material I have only scratches the surface of what is available.  The two pictures in the OP scratch the scratch.  (It is news to me that the Connecticut Turnpike used italics, but the Pennsylvania Turnpike picture has been around for a while, and I have long suspected--but not been able to prove--that the PTC funded T.W. Forbes' early research into guide sign comprehension in the late 1930's/early 1940's when he was at the Yale Bureau of Street Traffic.)
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Re: Grandfathered non-standard signage
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2014, 11:51:47 PM »

NJ Turnpike





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Re: Grandfathered non-standard signage
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2014, 11:54:39 PM »

Similar bumpy exit tab, US 75 Houston, 1956:

from http://www.texasfreeway.com/Houston/historic/photos/houston_historic_photos.shtml

I'd shit a brick if someone found a photos of 1940s exit number signage on the NYC parkways.
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Re: Grandfathered non-standard signage
« Reply #4 on: January 03, 2014, 08:35:30 AM »

The Palisades Interstate Parkway, still, has their signs, though modern and up to today's design types, much different from other roads and in their own world on the NJ side of the border.

Exits 2, 3, & 4 use a "RT 9 W" over a shield at the bottom of the main control points at Exit 2 and Exits 3 and 4 use just a simple "RT 9 W" on the guides.

Great pictures though!  I remember many signs on the CT Turnpike were around in even the late 70's.  Plus I remember some of those signs Steve featured.  Not at those particular exits, though, but at other interchanges were up until the 1980's.  The Penn Turnpike used signs even after that and button copied em when the NJT went reflective.  That is why I was asking why the NJTA never modernized the Exit 6 signs during major sign upgrades in the NJT or NJ thread.  Exit 6 from the south was always used ground mounted signs up until the current road widening project even with the US 130 addition which went in modern format, but still all ground.
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Re: Grandfathered non-standard signage
« Reply #5 on: January 03, 2014, 08:51:05 AM »

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority actually kept its own signing standards well after the release of the 2009 MUTCD.

And most of the signage on the turnpike is still non-standard.
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Re: Grandfathered non-standard signage
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2014, 09:46:58 AM »

Here's an early distance-based exit tab from Michigan along I-94 from another thread here:

The original freeway exit number tabs were not rectangles (I-94 in Michigan):



This is still Exit 39.
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Re: Grandfathered non-standard signage
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2014, 09:54:27 AM »



Hey, I know this exit. We used the restrooms at the McDonalds in Coloma around 2:45 pm yesterday. Didn't eat there though. :P
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Re: Grandfathered non-standard signage
« Reply #8 on: January 03, 2014, 10:19:58 AM »

The New Jersey Turnpike Authority actually kept its own signing standards well after the release of the 2009 MUTCD.

And most of the signage on the turnpike is still non-standard.
Yeah the Exit number within the borders of the sign itself, the distance to the exit on top and yes the Turnpike's own "FOR" instead of using a supplemental sign with exit number of exit beneath.  I still, though, wonder why the NJTA went MUTCD on the Exit 11 SB supplemental sign with "The Amboys- Shore Points USE Exit 11" instead of "EXIT 11 FOR The Amboys- Shore Points" as they would normally do.
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Re: Grandfathered non-standard signage
« Reply #9 on: January 03, 2014, 01:52:13 PM »

Here are some photos from various issues of Traffic Engineering between 1951 and 1954 inclusive--some are from advertisements, while others accompany article copy.  They are grouped by state.

California

*  Santa Ana Freeway (?)



*  North Sacramento Freeway



*  Santa Ana Freeway



*  1949 sign lettering test (was a Traffic Engineering cover illustration)



Connecticut

*  Merritt Parkway signing (from an advertisement for Reflexlite letters, which used sheeting to accomplish whole-letter retroreflectorization)



*  Example of overhead signing with lane assignment (then a novel concept) at the Charter Oak Bridge near Hartford



*  Wilbur Cross Parkway



Illinois

*  Typical example of advance guide sign on the Cook County expressway system (I think this one was at Torrance Avenue on the Kingery Expressway)



*  Typical example of exit direction sign on the Cook County expressway system (legend is hard to read even in the original, so I'm uncertain as to location)



*  Merging sign treatment on the Cook County expressway system (the engineers were inordinately proud of this)



Maine

*  Typical advance guide sign (from a Scotchlite advertisement)



Massachusetts

*  Another early example of an overhead guide sign used for lane assignment



New Jersey

*  Early gore sign on the Garden State Parkway



New York

*  Typical 1950's Thruway advance guide sign (from same Scotchlite advertisement as Maine Turnpike sign)



*  Thruway test signs (from 1954 report on Thruway sign test)







*  UN test signs (in 1951, NYSDOT's predecessor agency carried out a test of "UN signs," as the current Vienna Convention signs were then known)





Oklahoma

*  Typical gore sign on the Turner Turnpike



*  Typical signs on the Turner Turnpike (all from a Scotchlite advertisement touting the use of retroreflective sheeting on the entire signface, hence in full color)









Texas

*  Early exit direction sign on the Gulf Freeway (as IH 45 was then known)



Virginia

*  Shirley Highway ramp diverge sign (from an advertisement) (the approach of signing the same destination by two different routes began to be deprecated several years later)



There are some common themes among early freeway guide signs:

*  Route designations in text only on toll roads (shields were used on the free routes in California and Illinois)

*  All sign legend, including primary destination legend, in uppercase only (the Thruway may have been the first to copy mixed-case legend as used by the California Division of Highways)
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Re: Grandfathered non-standard signage
« Reply #10 on: January 03, 2014, 02:06:42 PM »

Here are some photos from various issues of Traffic Engineering between 1951 and 1954 inclusive--some are from advertisements, while others accompany article copy.  They are grouped by state.

Illinois

*  Typical example of advance guide sign on the Cook County expressway system (I think this one was at Torrence Avenue on the Kingery Expressway)



*  Typical example of exit direction sign on the Cook County expressway system (legend is hard to read even in the original, so I'm uncertain as to location)



The second sign is also for Torrence Avenue.  I believe, if my eyes are good, that the photograph is facing east.  There also appears to be a small US-shield on the sign.  As it is Torrence, it will be US-6.  This interchange was a cloverleaf until the massive rebuild of the Kingery and Borman Expressways.
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Re: Grandfathered non-standard signage
« Reply #11 on: January 03, 2014, 02:12:59 PM »

Thanks for posting those. Great pictures. I love seeing old stuff like that.

For what it's worth, this is what that Virginia spot looks like now: http://goo.gl/maps/v5BkW  I find the "VIA" usage on the old signs interesting. I know of a current sign that uses that word to indicate an alternate route—it's on eastbound I-66 approaching I-495 and it lists "Washington VIA RTE 50" (referring to US-50)—or at least, the old sign visible on Street View did (http://goo.gl/maps/vy3Vd). There's still a "VIA" sign there, but I think the new one put up last year uses a shield instead (frankly there's usually so much traffic changing lanes every which way through there that I don't pay very much attention to the signs). Either way, it's arguably a valid exception to the deprecation of signing an alternate route because of the HOV-2 restriction that applies to I-66 during the morning rush hour.

The other sign I found interesting is the Oklahoma sign with the virtually-horizontal arrow. Nowadays Maryland seems to make frequent use of horizontal arrows both on BGSs and on gore signs (sample: http://goo.gl/maps/0dNCk), but off the top of my head I don't really recall seeing that sort of thing nearly as often in many other states (one exception is where northbound US-29 traverses a one-lane ramp when it leaves the Charlottesville bypass to turn north towards Culpeper and Northern Virginia: http://goo.gl/maps/Rz633). I remember when I was a kid Delaware had a gore sign somewhere on I-95 that had an arrow angled much closer to flat than normal because the ramp left at a sharper angle than normal. Always struck me as an interesting idea to underscore to drivers if a particular ramp might be a particularly sharp curve.
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Re: Grandfathered non-standard signage
« Reply #12 on: January 03, 2014, 05:24:23 PM »

Here are some photos from various issues of Traffic Engineering between 1951 and 1954 inclusive--some are from advertisements, while others accompany article copy.  They are grouped by state.

Connecticut

*  Merritt Parkway signing (from an advertisement for Reflexlite letters, which used sheeting to accomplish whole-letter retroreflectorization)



*  Example of overhead signing with lane assignment (then a novel concept) at the Charter Oak Bridge near Hartford



*  Wilbur Cross Parkway



Maine

*  Typical advance guide sign (from a Scotchlite advertisement)


Reflexite is/was based in New Britain, CT. I believe it may be in Avon, CT now. Their Merritt Parkway (CT 15) sign is quite fugly!  :no:

The Wilbur Cross Parkway sign referencing US 5, CT 15 and CT 9 would have to be in either Meriden or Berlin. CT 9 and US 5/CT 15 (mostly the Berlin Turnpike) intersect in Berlin these days.

The Charter Oak Bridge example looks to be from the East Hartford side. The down ramp towards the right on the Hartford side was closed and later removed when the current bridge was built.

The Maine Turnpike sign from Kennebunk would be today's Exit 25 (formerly M.T. Exit 3) on I-95.
« Last Edit: January 03, 2014, 06:25:21 PM by Steve »
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Re: Grandfathered non-standard signage
« Reply #13 on: January 03, 2014, 06:24:44 PM »


I apologize forthwith for having ever made fun of your long-winded nature. This is the best post this forum has ever had.

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Re: Grandfathered non-standard signage
« Reply #14 on: January 04, 2014, 02:39:38 AM »

Since Doofy seems to have ignored my brickshitting advice, here's one in Providence, probably from about 1950:
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Re: Grandfathered non-standard signage
« Reply #15 on: January 04, 2014, 01:50:38 PM »

Since Doofy seems to have ignored my brickshitting advice, here's one in Providence, probably from about 1950:


I know! I do plan on getting out there.  Just haven't yet, either it rains, which makes sign pics crappy or work.  This is on my list along with the original signage of the Henderson Birdge!
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Re: Grandfathered non-standard signage
« Reply #16 on: January 04, 2014, 03:39:28 PM »

Thanks for posting those. Great pictures. I love seeing old stuff like that.

For what it's worth, this is what that Virginia spot looks like now: http://goo.gl/maps/v5BkW  I find the "VIA" usage on the old signs interesting. I know of a current sign that uses that word to indicate an alternate route—it's on eastbound I-66 approaching I-495 and it lists "Washington VIA RTE 50" (referring to US-50)—or at least, the old sign visible on Street View did (http://goo.gl/maps/vy3Vd). There's still a "VIA" sign there, but I think the new one put up last year uses a shield instead (frankly there's usually so much traffic changing lanes every which way through there that I don't pay very much attention to the signs). Either way, it's arguably a valid exception to the deprecation of signing an alternate route because of the HOV-2 restriction that applies to I-66 during the morning rush hour.

1. I have never seen a sign that referred to Va. 350 as Shirley Freeway before (VDH, VDHT and then VDOT nearly always signed it as Shirley Highway but it's been years since I have seen a BGS panel mentioning it), and I recall being down in that part of southern Fairfax County as a very small roadgeek (~50 years ago) when the family went to the Lazy Susan, located on U.S. 1 south of this location.  Prior to the late 1960's/early 1970's reconstruction, Va. 350 was not a freeway anyway, at least not in Arlington County, because of the at-grade railroad crossing between Shirlington Circle and Va. 120 (South Glebe Road).

2. I agree that U.S. 50 should be posted as an alternate for I-66 because of the HOV restrictions.  But I would prefer that U.S. 29 be posted that way on I-66 at the approach to the Vienna (Va. 243, Exit 62) interchange, since trucks over 8 tons gross may not use U.S. 50 between Fairfax Circle and the T. Roosevelt Bridge, and may not use U.S. 50 at all between the bridge and 18th Street and Constitution Avenue, N.W.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2014, 03:43:26 PM by cpzilliacus »
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Re: Grandfathered non-standard signage
« Reply #17 on: January 04, 2014, 03:47:58 PM »

*  Shirley Highway ramp diverge sign (from an advertisement) (the approach of signing the same destination by two different routes began to be deprecated several years later)


Note also the classic VDH "pyramid" black topped with white below wooden posts, once so common on state-maintained highways across Virginia.
« Last Edit: January 04, 2014, 05:37:49 PM by cpzilliacus »
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Re: Grandfathered non-standard signage
« Reply #18 on: January 04, 2014, 07:35:59 PM »

briantroutman, you sure Ryan Seacrest didn't write the copy of that CT Turnpike welcome sign?

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Re: Grandfathered non-standard signage
« Reply #19 on: January 04, 2014, 08:50:50 PM »

I have shat myself insufficiently.  anyone want to share photos of the Henderson Bridge signage?  I never knew such a thing needed to be found.
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Re: Grandfathered non-standard signage
« Reply #20 on: January 04, 2014, 09:47:15 PM »



Does this count? This is at the approach to the Old Vicksburg Bridge in Delta, LA (former US 80, now LA 3218).
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Re: Grandfathered non-standard signage
« Reply #21 on: January 04, 2014, 09:58:10 PM »

IIRC the missing word from that sign is "commercial".  and, it may very well be standard.  it is a regulatory sign, so white with black text is the correct color scheme.  I believe there is no explicit standard for the situation, so therefore the sign is - by definition - not "non-standard".
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Re: Grandfathered non-standard signage
« Reply #22 on: January 04, 2014, 11:38:17 PM »

anyone want to share photos of the Henderson Bridge signage?  I never knew such a thing needed to be found.
All I know of there is normal old button copy.
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Re: Grandfathered non-standard signage
« Reply #23 on: January 05, 2014, 01:46:19 AM »

The Hartford - Springfield overhead with the bridge in the background is US 5 / CT 15 near Brainard Airport, where I-91 would be constructed later. At the time the photo was taken, a trumpet interchange connected CT 15 with the Conland Highway, which followed present-day I-91 and SR 598 to Pulaski Circle near the Capitol building.

The US 5 / CT 15 / CT 9 sign is on present-day CT 99, at the northbound onramp to US 5 / CT 15 northbound. At the time the photo was taken, today's CT 99 was part of CT 9, which then boarded the ramp and merged with the CT 15 freeway.

There's a map of how this looked here: http://www.kurumi.com/roads/ct/br-cob.html
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Re: Grandfathered non-standard signage
« Reply #24 on: January 13, 2014, 12:51:35 PM »

I apologize forthwith for having ever made fun of your long-winded nature. This is the best post this forum has ever had.

Thank you for your kind words.  I should say, though, that my hands are only the last pair on the conveyor belt.  We have to thank the engineers back in the 1940's and 1950's who were aware they were building history, and made sure it was photographically well documented, and also the librarians at what is now Wichita State University, who maintained an institutional subscription to Traffic Engineering even though at the time Kansas did not have an access-control law (one was not passed until 1953) and Wichita did not have a thoroughfare plan calling for freeways (Patterns for Thorofares did not come out until 1955).  The traffic equipment vendors back in the early 1950's weren't placing ad copy for the sake of historians, but even so it took some sang froid to advertise finished products containing steel in the middle of Korean War steel shortages.

In any case, here is one picture I missed:

*  US 101 Hollywood Freeway



And here are links to resources containing more pictures:

*  US House, Committee on Public Works, Special Subcommittee on the Federal-Aid Highway Program, Freeway signing and related geometrics (1968)

*  US House, Committee on Public Works, Special Subcommittee on the Federal-Aid Highway Program, Roadside hazards (1968)

*  Harold Lunenfeld and Gerson Alexander, Signing treatments for interchange lane drops (1976)

These publications collectively have probably around a thousand sign photos, the signs shown dating from about 1950 to about 1970.  Despite its name, the roadside hazards volume is especially rich in sign photos, since infrequent use of breakaway posts had developed into an issue attracting Congressional attention by the late 1960's.
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"It is necessary to spend a hundred lire now to save a thousand lire later."--Piero Puricelli, explaining the need for a first-class road system to Benito Mussolini

 


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