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Author Topic: ODOT Strikes Again  (Read 6496 times)

Bobby5280

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Re: ODOT Strikes Again
« Reply #25 on: June 09, 2018, 09:48:50 PM »

Quote from: sparker
In regards to the state highway "hatchet" signage, it certainly looks like ODOT simply stocks the raw unnumbered sign and applies the route numbers via adhesive "appliques"; how much care was put into this process (it shouldn't be too difficult for the district shops to cobble up some jigs!) is reflected in the differences in placement, kerning, etc.  In the case of the 165/351 shields on the US 62 approach BGS, it looks like they got lazy on the 165 shield and simply lined up the numbers along the bottom edge; 351 was better centered (vertically) in that regard, but the kerning between the digits is a bit off.  I suppose it depends upon the shop and how the staff is feeling on any particular day!

I've been doing design work at a commercial sign company for almost 25 years. I see zero excuse for these guys getting it wrong on so many of these signs. Modern software and sign making equipment makes it easier than ever to produce professional looking signs. But it still takes people with talent, attention to details and at least some pride in their work to get it done right.

A bunch of this stuff is merely getting cut out of roll vinyl on a vinyl cutting/plotting machine. It's not like decades in the past where the letters were cut out of aluminum, painted and encrusted with reflective buttons. If I compose a vinyl graphics design in the computer and send it to one of our Graphtec plotters I'm going to cut the entire design on one piece of material. That certainly goes for something like door graphics. You cut the lettering on the vinyl cutter and then you manually "weed" away all the negative material, leaving the letters still on the paper or plastic "carrier" backing material. Then you apply release tape over the weeded lettering. Sometimes pencil lines are drawn on top of the release tape to make it easier for installers to measure from the baselines of the lettering to make sure the graphics go on straight and in the right position. The release tape lifts the vinyl letters off its carrier and then it is applied to the final surface with a plastic squeegee.

Sometimes there is a good amount of vinyl material waste when cutting graphics. That can be a problem if you're cutting vinyl for something big. It might pay to "nest" objects in the design closely together in a vinyl cutting job to save material when they're being run out on the plotter. You cut those objects apart after they're covered with release tape and then position and apply them individually to the sign face, window, vehicle or whatever according to the details in the original layout.

What I think ODOT is doing is they're trying to economize on cut vinyl, be it the white "engineer's grade" vinyl they're using for a bunch of the lettering on green signs or any other color or type of vinyl they use. But they're doing this to an extreme where the sign fabricators are forced to install each letter one at a time. I think they're doing something like running out a sheet of vinyl with hundreds of letter "a" characters and then following that with "b" and "c" and so on. That's the only explanation for how the lettering on these signs can be crooked, badly spaced or even have characters of different sizes in the same word. The method is akin to a cliché of the sociopath making a ransom note out of letters randomly cut from a newspaper. Some fart at ODOT perhaps remembered all the individual stick-on mailbox numbers and letters you could buy at the old Five and Dime stores and thought it would be a good idea for ODOT's sign shop to stock up on sign letters like that!

When it comes to applying vinyl graphics you have to at least apply the lettering in whole words and/or whole lines of copy at the bare minimum. Yeah the space between the letters is going to be wasted material. But the cost of that thrown away vinyl is nothing compared to the time and labor costs of sticking letters to a sign panel one character at a time.

Maybe this crap is one reason why diacritical marks (accents, umlats, etc) are not allowed in US traffic sign lettering. I'd really get a laugh if some manager was making the fabricators cut out and apply letter "i" dots separately from the rest of the letter. But it wouldn't surprise me at all if they were stupid enough to do that.

Quote from: Brian556
On the 165 sign, the shape of OK got elongated vertically. how do you explain that? The route marker design should be standardized with no way to do that

One possibility is a non-DOT sign company producing the work and doing so from non-official artwork. There's a lot of sign makers who honestly just don't give a shit about doing good work. It's just a job and they'll do anything they can to hammer out some crap as fast and cheap as possible. If they don't have the authentic vector-based artwork for a particular job they might just auto-trace something from a bad JPEG image or just hammer out some crap that looks close enough and go with that.

By the way, I really don't like the current design of the Oklahoma state highway marker. It sucks. The size of the state shape, the varying line stroke widths they apply and the way the state shape conflicts with numerals on so many routes is proof enough it's a terrible design.

Years ago I put together this design:



I'm not meaning to toot my own horn too loudly, but this design is a damned sight better. It can work in 2 digit and 3 digit mode with zero problem. There are no space conflicts. And to top it off, the "Oklahoma" letters use the same Eurostile typeface Oklahoma is using on its current state flag. I didn't eyeball this design together either. The elements are set at specific sizes consistent with other highway sign markers. It's basically ready to use if ODOT was ever inclined to do so.
« Last Edit: June 09, 2018, 09:57:41 PM by Bobby5280 »
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rte66man

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Re: ODOT Strikes Again
« Reply #26 on: June 10, 2018, 08:48:42 AM »

Bobby, I'm going to see if I can find out what system ODOT uses for manufacturing signs.  They used to have each Division do i, but I seem to recall some are now done centrally while the remainder are contracted out.
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J N Winkler

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Re: ODOT Strikes Again
« Reply #27 on: June 10, 2018, 10:08:32 AM »

What I think ODOT is doing is they're trying to economize on cut vinyl, be it the white "engineer's grade" vinyl they're using for a bunch of the lettering on green signs or any other color or type of vinyl they use. But they're doing this to an extreme where the sign fabricators are forced to install each letter one at a time. I think they're doing something like running out a sheet of vinyl with hundreds of letter "a" characters and then following that with "b" and "c" and so on. That's the only explanation for how the lettering on these signs can be crooked, badly spaced or even have characters of different sizes in the same word. The method is akin to a cliché of the sociopath making a ransom note out of letters randomly cut from a newspaper. Some fart at ODOT perhaps remembered all the individual stick-on mailbox numbers and letters you could buy at the old Five and Dime stores and thought it would be a good idea for ODOT's sign shop to stock up on sign letters like that!

I'd be surprised if even Oklahoma DOT was using anything less bright than encapsulated-lens (high-intensity) sheeting these days.

The company that makes SignCAD used to sell, and probably still sells, a sign manufacturing package called SignCAM.  It has a subroutine that relies on the mathematics of close packing to construct a cutting pattern that allows letters, shields, and other elements that comprise foreground elements of a sign to be cut out of white sheeting with minimum waste.  Letters are cut individually, at varying orientation.  This represents a cost compromise since microprismatic sheeting has rotational sensitivity (meaning that a given letter may reflect less effectively than the letters before or after it, depending on the angle at which it was cut) but is very expensive on an unit area basis.

I would be very surprised if Oklahoma DOT was using a "parts bin" approach for lettering because newer signs all seem to have direct-applied copy.  This method makes more sense for demountable copy with its own substrate.

Bobby, I'm going to see if I can find out what system ODOT uses for manufacturing signs.  They used to have each Division do it, but I seem to recall some are now done centrally while the remainder are contracted out.

I wonder if sign shop tours are possible.  I have little information for Oklahoma, but up here in Kansas KDOT has opted to pare down its in-house sign fabrication capability in favor of issuing procurement contracts for small sign replacements (generally on a district-area basis with each contract having multiple permutations of district and area).
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bugo

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Re: ODOT Strikes Again
« Reply #28 on: June 10, 2018, 10:30:15 PM »

How does this one compare?


When was that picture taken? Is it on the EB/SB turnpike just short of I-40? I haven't been through there in a few months but I don't remember seeing that sign then.
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sparker

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Re: ODOT Strikes Again
« Reply #29 on: June 11, 2018, 03:11:12 AM »

How does this one compare?


Certainly not the worst example of a state highway sign (bugo's probably right about the actual location); although the kerning's a bit of a "wide load" (likely done so that a number wasn't on the left vertical part of the state outline); it's a bit disconcerting to see the "3" outside the outline but the "5" and "1" impinging upon it.  Whatever stick-on numbers they're using, it's likely that there's something of a thin white "buffer" around the numbers so that the state outline doesn't run directly into the integers themselves.  But at least it's quite readable; gets the job done. 
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skluth

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Re: ODOT Strikes Again
« Reply #30 on: June 11, 2018, 10:00:07 AM »


I'm not meaning to toot my own horn too loudly, but this design is a damned sight better. It can work in 2 digit and 3 digit mode with zero problem. There are no space conflicts. And to top it off, the "Oklahoma" letters use the same Eurostile typeface Oklahoma is using on its current state flag. I didn't eyeball this design together either. The elements are set at specific sizes consistent with other highway sign markers. It's basically ready to use if ODOT was ever inclined to do so.

I like your design much more than the official one. It's simple things like this that I think would be best left to a public vote, akin to the vote New Zealand recently had for their flag. Officials are morons when it comes to design. Better to pick from a number of submissions and let the public vote on the best one. I'd definitely vote for your design over the current one.
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US71

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Re: ODOT Strikes Again
« Reply #31 on: June 11, 2018, 10:26:57 AM »

How does this one compare?


When was that picture taken? Is it on the EB/SB turnpike just short of I-40? I haven't been through there in a few months but I don't remember seeing that sign then.

This would be EB 40, I think. The placement is odd, IMO. The END sign should be further back
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Bobby5280

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Re: ODOT Strikes Again
« Reply #32 on: June 11, 2018, 06:16:21 PM »

Quote from: J N Winkler
I'd be surprised if even Oklahoma DOT was using anything less bright than encapsulated-lens (high-intensity) sheeting these days.

Around Lawton a bunch of the big green signs on I-44 and Rogers Lane (green signs not so big) looks to me like it's nothing more than common grade plain white reflective vinyl. The stuff has a life span of maybe 2-5 years. I've seen some of these letters crack and peel off the green backgrounds in a short amount of time. They are using the type III high intensity sheeting for the green backgrounds.

Quote from: J N Winkler
The company that makes SignCAD used to sell, and probably still sells, a sign manufacturing package called SignCAM.  It has a subroutine that relies on the mathematics of close packing to construct a cutting pattern that allows letters, shields, and other elements that comprise foreground elements of a sign to be cut out of white sheeting with minimum waste.

A number of sign making applications for computerized routing tables (such as EnRoute) have auto-nesting functions where they can fit as many letters or other graphics objects onto something like a 48" X 96" sheet of .125" aluminum or colored Acrylic. Once those letters are cut out some other kind of aid will be needed to place the letters on the sign surface accurately. Most often a large paper pattern is run out of the vinyl plotter/cutter and used as a registration tool. Unfortunately you can't use that method easily with vinyl lettering. Some other tricks would be needed to let the installer know the baseline and correct rotation/orientation of each individual character. That's a big pain in the ass.

Quote from: J N Winkler
I would be very surprised if Oklahoma DOT was using a "parts bin" approach for lettering because newer signs all seem to have direct-applied copy.  This method makes more sense for demountable copy with its own substrate.

Applying whole words and/or whole lines of copy in one pass via a big piece of release tape is a far more efficient method. Layouts can be fine tuned to very exact detail within the computer. I don't know about the various Series Gothic fonts, but Clearview Highway had all the proper spacing tables, kerning pairs, etc built into its font files. It shouldn't be necessary to go measuring spaces between letters after they are cut, release taped and ready to apply to the sign panel.

Quote from: skluth
I like your design much more than the official one. It's simple things like this that I think would be best left to a public vote, akin to the vote New Zealand recently had for their flag. Officials are morons when it comes to design. Better to pick from a number of submissions and let the public vote on the best one. I'd definitely vote for your design over the current one.

IMHO, graphic design decisions ought to be left to people who possess enough talent and expertise to get the work done right. It's not appropriate to leave the decisions in the hands of elected officials or the general public. Graphic design, and sign design in particular, is about a whole lot more than just making something look nice. Taste is a very subjective thing. Other issues like legibility, appropriate use of type, color, white space, etc is less subjective.
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rte66man

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Re: ODOT Strikes Again
« Reply #33 on: June 13, 2018, 09:07:59 PM »

How does this one compare?


When was that picture taken? Is it on the EB/SB turnpike just short of I-40? I haven't been through there in a few months but I don't remember seeing that sign then.

Eastbound I40 just after you pass under the EB OK351 overpass.  It was taken about 3 years ago.
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bugo

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Re: ODOT Strikes Again
« Reply #34 on: June 14, 2018, 02:03:44 PM »

Eastbound I40 just after you pass under the EB OK351 overpass.  It was taken about 3 years ago.

The angle is odd. That's why I didn't recognize it. I know where it is. I'll see if it's still there later today.
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txstateends

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Re: ODOT Strikes Again
« Reply #35 on: June 14, 2018, 08:56:38 PM »


By the way, I really don't like the current design of the Oklahoma state highway marker. It sucks.

Years ago I put together this design:



I'm not meaning to toot my own horn too loudly, but this design is a damned sight better. It can work in 2 digit and 3 digit mode with zero problem. There are no space conflicts. And to top it off, the "Oklahoma" letters use the same Eurostile typeface Oklahoma is using on its current state flag. I didn't eyeball this design together either. The elements are set at specific sizes consistent with other highway sign markers. It's basically ready to use if ODOT was ever inclined to do so.

Not bad, especially since it doesn't involve colors or special graphics.  I really wish TX would get out of the "boring square" rut.  Maybe a lone-star or some use of the state flag, since the FMs/RMs already use the state shape.
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US71

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Re: ODOT Strikes Again
« Reply #36 on: June 14, 2018, 09:52:45 PM »


By the way, I really don't like the current design of the Oklahoma state highway marker. It sucks.

Years ago I put together this design:



I'm not meaning to toot my own horn too loudly, but this design is a damned sight better. It can work in 2 digit and 3 digit mode with zero problem. There are no space conflicts. And to top it off, the "Oklahoma" letters use the same Eurostile typeface Oklahoma is using on its current state flag. I didn't eyeball this design together either. The elements are set at specific sizes consistent with other highway sign markers. It's basically ready to use if ODOT was ever inclined to do so.

Not bad, especially since it doesn't involve colors or special graphics.  I really wish TX would get out of the "boring square" rut.  Maybe a lone-star or some use of the state flag, since the FMs/RMs already use the state shape.

Years ago, they did use the "Lone Star"

(from wikipedia)
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TXtoNJ

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Re: ODOT Strikes Again
« Reply #37 on: June 15, 2018, 10:48:48 AM »


By the way, I really don't like the current design of the Oklahoma state highway marker. It sucks.

Years ago I put together this design:



I'm not meaning to toot my own horn too loudly, but this design is a damned sight better. It can work in 2 digit and 3 digit mode with zero problem. There are no space conflicts. And to top it off, the "Oklahoma" letters use the same Eurostile typeface Oklahoma is using on its current state flag. I didn't eyeball this design together either. The elements are set at specific sizes consistent with other highway sign markers. It's basically ready to use if ODOT was ever inclined to do so.

Not bad, especially since it doesn't involve colors or special graphics.  I really wish TX would get out of the "boring square" rut.  Maybe a lone-star or some use of the state flag, since the FMs/RMs already use the state shape.

Years ago, they did use the "Lone Star"

(from wikipedia)

Looks good on a computer screen. Legibility problems at speed.
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Brandon

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Re: ODOT Strikes Again
« Reply #38 on: June 15, 2018, 12:48:08 PM »

Years ago, they did use the "Lone Star"

(from wikipedia)

Looks good on a computer screen. Legibility problems at speed.

It could be set up more like the New Mexico zia shield whereby the star points are a bit flatter and closer to the edge providing for a larger number space.
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Bobby5280

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Re: ODOT Strikes Again
« Reply #39 on: June 16, 2018, 03:58:36 AM »

The old Lone Star shield design worked pretty well, just so long as the route number had only a single digit. 2 digits was a tight squeeze. 3 digits was just asking for all sorts of illegible trouble.

I would like to see TX DOT come up with a more imaginable state highway route marker. They could probably stick with the square/rectangular shape. But I think a decorative feature (such as a silhouette of the Alamo in the bottom center, or maybe a bouquet of bluebonnets) would make an otherwise plain state highway marker seem more special.
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rte66man

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Re: ODOT Strikes Again
« Reply #40 on: June 17, 2018, 08:48:28 AM »

from ODOT's website:

http://www.okladot.state.ok.us/traffic/traffic2009/trf_std_2009-120.pdf

Detail sheet on what the sign standards are.
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US71

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Re: ODOT Strikes Again
« Reply #41 on: June 19, 2018, 02:21:07 PM »

Years ago, they did use the "Lone Star"

(from wikipedia)

Looks good on a computer screen. Legibility problems at speed.

It could be set up more like the New Mexico zia shield whereby the star points are a bit flatter and closer to the edge providing for a larger number space.

NM also super sizes their shields for 3d and 4d state routes.
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