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Author Topic: Unique, Odd, or Interesting Signs aka The good, the bad, and the ugly  (Read 1602330 times)

machias

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Re: Unique, Odd, or Interesting Signs aka The good, the bad, and the ugly
« Reply #7925 on: February 01, 2023, 06:17:34 PM »

I think it's interesting that the older distance sign has state route marker digits in Series D, while the newer one has them in Series F.  Isn't it supposed to be the other way round?


It is suppose to be the other way around. I donít know what happened with the original sign, but quite a few signs in that area from that era (1988 or 1989) had series D numerals on the wider shields and it always looked weird.

The newer sign is from the very end of the use of Series F.  Although NYSDOT R2 can still be a little uneven with the numerals in shields, Iíve noticed both Series D and Series E in the later installations (though I havenít been in the area in quite a while).
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ethanhopkin14

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Re: Unique, Odd, or Interesting Signs aka The good, the bad, and the ugly
« Reply #7926 on: February 02, 2023, 09:20:18 AM »

Interstate 205's milage and exit numbers don't reset when entering Washington (northbound) or Oregon (southbound).

The 3dis that reset mile markers at state lines are the exception, not the rule.
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ethanhopkin14

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Re: Unique, Odd, or Interesting Signs aka The good, the bad, and the ugly
« Reply #7927 on: February 02, 2023, 09:40:25 AM »

I saw this one last week.  A red, white and blue business loop shield.
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frankenroad

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Re: Unique, Odd, or Interesting Signs aka The good, the bad, and the ugly
« Reply #7928 on: February 02, 2023, 03:22:37 PM »

Interstate 205's milage and exit numbers don't reset when entering Washington (northbound) or Oregon (southbound).

The 3dis that reset mile markers at state lines are the exception, not the rule.

The only one I know of is I-470 in OH/WV.  I think it's confusing for motorists.  It's only about 10 miles long, so the sequence of exits (going east) is 3,6,1,2.
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elsmere241

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Re: Unique, Odd, or Interesting Signs aka The good, the bad, and the ugly
« Reply #7929 on: February 02, 2023, 03:44:37 PM »

I-295 in Delaware, New Jersey, and Pennsylvania does as well (though exits aren't numbered in DE).
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roadman65

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Re: Unique, Odd, or Interesting Signs aka The good, the bad, and the ugly
« Reply #7930 on: February 02, 2023, 04:04:42 PM »

Interstate 205's milage and exit numbers don't reset when entering Washington (northbound) or Oregon (southbound).

The 3dis that reset mile markers at state lines are the exception, not the rule.

The only one I know of is I-470 in OH/WV.  I think it's confusing for motorists.  It's only about 10 miles long, so the sequence of exits (going east) is 3,6,1,2.

Do what Washington does on I-205, where the numbers are continued from Oregon having one set in the Portland- Vancouver area.

Massachusetts does not do the same sadly on I-295. One exit in that state it has and could easily sign that one as a continuation of Rhode Islandís numbering
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ethanhopkin14

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Re: Unique, Odd, or Interesting Signs aka The good, the bad, and the ugly
« Reply #7931 on: February 03, 2023, 10:32:19 AM »

Interstate 205's milage and exit numbers don't reset when entering Washington (northbound) or Oregon (southbound).

The 3dis that reset mile markers at state lines are the exception, not the rule.

The only one I know of is I-470 in OH/WV.  I think it's confusing for motorists.  It's only about 10 miles long, so the sequence of exits (going east) is 3,6,1,2.

Interstate 270 around St. Louis.
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Re: Unique, Odd, or Interesting Signs aka The good, the bad, and the ugly
« Reply #7932 on: February 04, 2023, 05:13:55 PM »

I saw this one last week.  A red, white and blue business loop shield.

Pretty sure there used to be one of those (also erroneously) in Sacramento from I-5 S to the Cap City/Business 80 Freeway, but I can't seem to find it on Google Maps. It's been replaced since, naturally.
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Mapmikey

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Re: Unique, Odd, or Interesting Signs aka The good, the bad, and the ugly
« Reply #7933 on: February 04, 2023, 09:09:16 PM »

I saw this one last week.  A red, white and blue business loop shield.

Pretty sure there used to be one of those (also erroneously) in Sacramento from I-5 S to the Cap City/Business 80 Freeway, but I can't seem to find it on Google Maps. It's been replaced since, naturally.

Springfield OH has them
https://goo.gl/maps/dfRaKzZ96VEhNsHW7
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wanderer2575

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Re: Unique, Odd, or Interesting Signs aka The good, the bad, and the ugly
« Reply #7934 on: February 05, 2023, 11:40:07 AM »

A couple unique (to me) signs on my road trip to Bay City a couple days ago.

Post-mounted two-lane pull through on the I-475 connector tramp to M-54 in Flint:


Truth in advertising on a side road from M-54/M-83 east of Birch Run:
« Last Edit: February 05, 2023, 11:46:55 AM by wanderer2575 »
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Bobby5280

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Re: Unique, Odd, or Interesting Signs aka The good, the bad, and the ugly
« Reply #7935 on: February 05, 2023, 12:40:59 PM »

I think Clearview Highway is okay for highway signs. But the artificially squeezed lettering on that "Deteriorating Road" sign really sucks. They might as well have set the type in Arial if they were going to squeeze it like that. Then it could match any of the stupid looking commercial signs all over the landscape with squeezed and stretched Arial crap type.
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Big John

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Re: Unique, Odd, or Interesting Signs aka The good, the bad, and the ugly
« Reply #7936 on: February 05, 2023, 01:10:59 PM »

^^ MUTCD has a "ROUGH ROAD" sign for that.
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Rothman

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Re: Unique, Odd, or Interesting Signs aka The good, the bad, and the ugly
« Reply #7937 on: February 05, 2023, 01:30:22 PM »

I think Clearview Highway is okay for highway signs. But the artificially squeezed lettering on that "Deteriorating Road" sign really sucks. They might as well have set the type in Arial if they were going to squeeze it like that. Then it could match any of the stupid looking commercial signs all over the landscape with squeezed and stretched Arial crap type.
Reminds me of "Congested Area" signs.  Oh well.
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Please note: All comments here represent my own personal opinion and do not reflect the official position(s) of NYSDOT.

Bobby5280

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Re: Unique, Odd, or Interesting Signs aka The good, the bad, and the ugly
« Reply #7938 on: February 05, 2023, 05:15:19 PM »

"ROUGH ROAD" would definitely function far better on that diamond shaped sign.

I've said this before in other discussion threads, but I think the FHWA and AASHTO should go back to the drawing board to develop more modern digital typefaces for highway signs. The Series Gothic fonts are laughably primitive compared to the current standards bar for new commercially sold typefaces. Clearview Highway is a little better, but still misses the mark when it comes to certain character set features people expect to see in professional level type families they buy.

Any new, commercially sold "work horse" type family introduced these days will be expected to have many individual styles, with each font file carrying a pretty wide character set. More type family packages are including OpenType Variable fonts. The Latin alphabet is expected to have its character set cover the Americas and much of Europe. The font file might include Greek and Cyrillic alphabets. Alternate characters and ligatures (glyphs with two or three letters joined together) are increasingly popular. I like fonts that include true native small capitals. Real small capitals look vastly superior to phony simulated small capitals -like what we see on the cardinal directions of many new highway signs. It's interesting that Clearview Highway has no native small caps character set. But the similar Clearview One type family does. A variable font with just a weight axis can gracefully fake a large cap-small cap treatment even if the typeface doesn't have a native small caps character set.

The thing that really pisses me off when I see commercial signs littered with artificially squeezed and stretched type (often set in default Arial) is the designers had far better alternatives available and didn't give a damn about using those tools that were available. OpenType Variable fonts have been around for several years now. Some are available for free via sites like Google Fonts. A decent number of these variable fonts have variable axes for weight and width. A variable typeface with multiple axes can fit text objects far more gracefully into a confined space than a limited "static" font such as Arial. Unfortunately Arial is near the top of the font menu, making it faster to select for any lazy fake designer. And Arial is often the default typeface in many applications. So the hacks just go with Arial in auto-pilot fashion and force-cram it into any given space. They're taking a visual shit on the commercial landscape and giving anti-signs people more and more ammunition to launch a Draconian level anti-signs ordinance.

I've been working in the sign industry for quite a while. I believe I have a sort of civic responsibility to at least do a decent job with the things I design. I'm probably as harsh a sign critic as anyone -particularly since I can look at a badly designed sign and quickly take apart what the hack did to get there. If I "phone it in" on some project chances are that finished sign will be standing there on the landscape for years on end reminding me every time I drive past it that I didn't do a good job. I think I would rather be proud of my work than ashamed of it. The sad thing is there is a legion of people working in the sign industry that just do not give the first f*** about how the finished product looks. So I expect the number of sweeping anti-signs ordinances to continue to grow across the country.
« Last Edit: February 05, 2023, 05:40:40 PM by Bobby5280 »
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Scott5114

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Re: Unique, Odd, or Interesting Signs aka The good, the bad, and the ugly
« Reply #7939 on: February 05, 2023, 06:35:21 PM »

I'm not really sure where the random Clearview hate is coming from, considering that the "DETERIORATING ROAD" sign is actually FHWA Series D compressed to B width.

And once again, I will keep saying the thing you just will not read, Bobby: FHWA does not and has never produced font files, they just produce glyphs that they distribute in a PDF. Before PDFs existed, you got geometric diagrams that laid out the length and radius of each line segment and arc. Commercial type foundries (and AARoads forum members) are the ones that make the TTF/OTF files. If they're not including fancy OpenType features in them, it's because they feel like there's no market for them.

Given that there's a perceived gap in the market and you can download the PDF just as well as anyone else, why haven't you made an OTF with all the fancy features you want?
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Bobby5280

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Re: Unique, Odd, or Interesting Signs aka The good, the bad, and the ugly
« Reply #7940 on: February 05, 2023, 11:48:15 PM »

Quote from: Scott5114
I'm not really sure where the random Clearview hate is coming from, considering that the "DETERIORATING ROAD" sign is actually FHWA Series D compressed to B width.

At first glance I thought it was squeezed Clearview. But even if it is artificially squeezed Series Gothic it is still a very ugly sign fail.

Quote from: Scott5114
And once again, I will keep saying the thing you just will not read, Bobby: FHWA does not and has never produced font files, they just produce glyphs that they distribute in a PDF.

Well, the FHWA is doing a very half-assed job at mandating a type standard for highway signs. If they want to design the glyphs then they need to pull up their big boy pants and work on the metrics (spacing) as well. Otherwise they're doing a very lame karaoke attempt at designing typefaces.

Drawing the glyphs of a typeface is around one third of the job (which kind of explains why they're not bothering with the heavier lifting portions). The metrics (tracking, kerning, line spacing, etc) is every bit as important as the glyph drawing. And even with the glyph drawing they're phoning it in, doing the extreme bare minimum via the barely basic character sets. The stuff they're outputting would be on average with what you can download from a free fonts site like dafont.com. It's nothing to brag about.

Quote from: Scott5114
Given that there's a perceived gap in the market and you can download the PDF just as well as anyone else, why haven't you made an OTF with all the fancy features you want?

Because I have my own day job and other shit I have to do for a living. And even if I devoted hundreds of hours of my own free time to do a proper OTF job on highway fonts, chances are 99.99% the finished fonts would never be used in the field, making the entire effort a giant waste of time. And even if they were used they would likely be taken without any credit (or pay). Screw that bullshit.

If I was to design my own proper highway signs typeface from scratch, featuring a proper modern character set and maybe even variable versions, I sure wouldn't be giving it away for free. I'd be selling it through MyFonts, Fonts.com, etc. The larger question is: is there really a viable market for such a thing outside of highway sign use? I'm thinking: NO. It's not worth the effort.

Nevertheless, the current highway signs fonts in use are pretty limited. And they really really SUCK out loud when hack fake designers distort the hell out of them to squeeze some ridiculously long legend into a cramped space.
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roadman65

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Re: Unique, Odd, or Interesting Signs aka The good, the bad, and the ugly
« Reply #7941 on: February 06, 2023, 03:15:13 AM »

Not complaining, but itís odd to see the Route shield after the road name.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/54480415@N08/52669159490/in/photostream/
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roadfro

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Re: Unique, Odd, or Interesting Signs aka The good, the bad, and the ugly
« Reply #7942 on: February 06, 2023, 03:57:33 AM »

Not complaining, but itís odd to see the Route shield after the road name.
https://www.flickr.com/photos/54480415@N08/52669159490/in/photostream/

It's not odd to see in California  :pan:
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Scott5114

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Re: Unique, Odd, or Interesting Signs aka The good, the bad, and the ugly
« Reply #7943 on: February 06, 2023, 05:53:39 AM »

Quote from: Scott5114
And once again, I will keep saying the thing you just will not read, Bobby: FHWA does not and has never produced font files, they just produce glyphs that they distribute in a PDF.

Well, the FHWA is doing a very half-assed job at mandating a type standard for highway signs. If they want to design the glyphs then they need to pull up their big boy pants and work on the metrics (spacing) as well. Otherwise they're doing a very lame karaoke attempt at designing typefaces.

You mean these metrics? You can make a font from them; two people on this forum have. The default Series EM kerning table could use some adjustment (I usually rekern by hand to taste) but the metrics do exist.

Quote from: Scott5114
Given that there's a perceived gap in the market and you can download the PDF just as well as anyone else, why haven't you made an OTF with all the fancy features you want?

Because I have my own day job and other shit I have to do for a living. And even if I devoted hundreds of hours of my own free time to do a proper OTF job on highway fonts, chances are 99.99% the finished fonts would never be used in the field, making the entire effort a giant waste of time. And even if they were used they would likely be taken without any credit (or pay). Screw that bullshit.

If I was to design my own proper highway signs typeface from scratch, featuring a proper modern character set and maybe even variable versions, I sure wouldn't be giving it away for free. I'd be selling it through MyFonts, Fonts.com, etc. The larger question is: is there really a viable market for such a thing outside of highway sign use? I'm thinking: NO. It's not worth the effort.

Nevertheless, the current highway signs fonts in use are pretty limited. And they really really SUCK out loud when hack fake designers distort the hell out of them to squeeze some ridiculously long legend into a cramped space.

Sounds like it would be a big time and financial drain without much benefit. Doesn't that kind of explain why the OTFs with all the bells and whistles you want don't exist?

FHWA is not a type foundry. They aren't trying to be. Their goal is to just make all of the signs in the country have the same glyphs on them so they have a baseline for legibility. That's it.

There's a really good reason there isn't an OTF blessed by FHWA. If they put together an OTF themselves, it would deprive all of the type foundries of being able to sell their implementations of the FHWA Series fonts. I don't think that's a really important concern myself, but if I was FHWA I sure wouldn't want to deal with all the whiny capitalists bitching about it. And if they blessed a specific foundry's existing implementation of the fonts, that would open them up to profiteering by raising the price to astronomical levels, the same way Meeker and Associates did with Clearview. With the way FHWA does it now, you can either buy one of the many competing pre-existing commercial versions of the font, or if you find the prices are not reasonable, you can roll your own. This is probably the best-case scenario politically.

You know as well as I do you can have an font that has literally every feature the OTF specification supports crammed into it and some shit-for-brains mouse jockey will stretch it out. That's not a software problem, that's a management problem. It already says in the MUTCD that's not compliant. So how is it happening? Someone in management isn't holding the designers accountable and letting the signs go out the door like that. That's all it boils down to.
« Last Edit: February 06, 2023, 05:57:58 AM by Scott5114 »
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formulanone

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Re: Unique, Odd, or Interesting Signs aka The good, the bad, and the ugly
« Reply #7944 on: February 06, 2023, 06:34:11 AM »

I think we're really going to need a Unicode FWHA font with many more glyphs in the future, because demand will increase for them as an increasing amount of signage goes multi-lingual for a variety of reasons. Even if it's just for names of bridges and memorial parks, there's going to be an accuracy that is not just culturally significant but also financially accurate if performed correctly the first time.

Why this hasn't happened yet is a head scratcher, but organizational preparation is now a idea, rather than a practice, if a concept can't meet both sides of an accounting ledger. I get that creating 5000+ CJK glyphs is going to be a monumental task, let alone thousands more obscure or even disused symbols which may never see the light of day, but it has to start somewhere...
« Last Edit: February 06, 2023, 06:39:58 AM by formulanone »
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Scott5114

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Re: Unique, Odd, or Interesting Signs aka The good, the bad, and the ugly
« Reply #7945 on: February 06, 2023, 07:06:01 AM »

Except:
Quote from: 2009 MUTCD, Section 2A.13
Word messages should not contain periods, apostrophes, question marks, ampersands, or other punctuation or characters that are not letters, numerals, or hyphens unless necessary to avoid confusion.

It's questionable (and culturally sensitive) if diacritics like accents and tildes count as "punctuation" or as integral parts of "letters". But the vast majority of Unicode code points are unquestionably not letters, numerals, or hyphens. Thus it would be kind of a waste of money to pay someone to draw all those glyphs (square root symbol? astrological signs? present-weather symbols?) up if best engineering practice prohibits using them. That engineering judgement would have to change to justify the expense, and I don't see why it would.

We may get to the point that it becomes necessary to include non-Latin characters on official traffic control devices. But I don't think that time is now. The vast majority of non-English-speaking people in this country speak a language that is written with the Latin alphabet, primarily Spanish. You can shim Spanish support into the MUTCD just by explicitly allowing accents and tildes and adding a grand total of 12 glyphs to the alphabet (Ń, …, Õ, ”, ŕ, —, and the lowercase of the same).

If we get to the point that we really need support for a non-Latin character set, we can probably just use an existing font in the appropriate character set. I'm as big of a font nerd as they come, and I can't tell fonts in CJK languages apart because they don't use the same design principles as Latin characters do. It would be a little easier to tell whether Greek and Cyrillic fonts are mismatched with Latin, but I really don't see us getting an explosion of Greek speakers in this country any time soon, and if we're getting inundated with Russian/Ukrainian speakers we probably have something way more important to be dealing with than road sign fonts.
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Re: Unique, Odd, or Interesting Signs aka The good, the bad, and the ugly
« Reply #7946 on: February 07, 2023, 04:57:28 AM »

The recent widening of an offramp in Richmond from I-95 to VA 161 has led to this:
https://maps.app.goo.gl/1zpooNoZiA1u3dvK7

Instead of NORTH & SOUTH, it's NB & SB. The sign at the gore itself is currently ground mounted but I suspect the new overhead there will say the same thing.
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Re: Unique, Odd, or Interesting Signs aka The good, the bad, and the ugly
« Reply #7947 on: February 07, 2023, 05:18:26 AM »

If we get to the point that we really need support for a non-Latin character set, we can probably just use an existing font in the appropriate character set.

I think support for additional characters (accent marks, etc) are almost a certainty. Even the military has started allowing them on nametapes.

Bobby5280

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Re: Unique, Odd, or Interesting Signs aka The good, the bad, and the ugly
« Reply #7948 on: February 07, 2023, 02:12:35 PM »

Quote from: Scott5114
There's a really good reason there isn't an OTF blessed by FHWA. If they put together an OTF themselves, it would deprive all of the type foundries of being able to sell their implementations of the FHWA Series fonts. I don't think that's a really important concern myself, but if I was FHWA I sure wouldn't want to deal with all the whiny capitalists bitching about it.

I don't think that's really a problem, not when so many flavors of "Highway Gothic" vary noticeably both in terms of glyph design and metrics.

Quote from: Scott5114
And if they blessed a specific foundry's existing implementation of the fonts, that would open them up to profiteering by raising the price to astronomical levels, the same way Meeker and Associates did with Clearview.

They have other alternatives. There is a pretty big market in open source typefaces. If I was calling the shots at the FHWA I would try partnering up with Google to modernize the Series Gothic typeface to make it more properly functional. Google is already well known for its Maps, Earth and Street View applications. Google also does a great deal of work on typefaces. Google Fonts is the biggest outlet of open source variable fonts. It only seems natural to me that Google could be a potential good partner on such an effort. FWIW, Google does have a typeface called "Overpass" that seems like an imitation of Highway Gothic or Interstate. It even has a variable weight axis. It's not a substitute for Series Gothic though. Still, it's interesting they do have such a typeface in their collection already.

Quote from: Scott5114
You know as well as I do you can have an font that has literally every feature the OTF specification supports crammed into it and some shit-for-brains mouse jockey will stretch it out.

That's no justification for keeping a typeface primitive. If the FHWA is going to mandate features such as cardinal directions being in all caps, but with a larger first letter, then the fonts being used need a real native small caps character set. Faked small capitals look unprofessional as hell.

The rules against diacritical marks are outdated and arguably hypocritical. A lowercase "i" or "j" has a dot above the main stroke. Those dots shouldn't have any higher ranking than other accent marks like a grave, acute, tilde, diaresis, etc. 40 years ago when button copy signs were still common the letters had to be positioned on the sign panel one by one. Back then banning diacritical marks from lettering would have made sense. Now all the graphics are getting cut by vinyl plotters or the entire sign face is getting printed in one sweeping pass. The process is far easier and faster now.

Letter spacing for highway typefaces is deliberately loose, so there isn't any need for ligatures such as "fl," "ffl" etc. Likewise there's little need for a bunch of alternate glyphs such as a letter "a" with both double-story and single-story versions.

Variable fonts that have weight and width axes can more gracefully overcome space limitations on a sign blank without the lettering looking stupid as all hell. But, yeah, the mouse jockey actually has to turn on his brain to actually use those features.
« Last Edit: February 07, 2023, 02:17:15 PM by Bobby5280 »
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Re: Unique, Odd, or Interesting Signs aka The good, the bad, and the ugly
« Reply #7949 on: February 07, 2023, 03:06:21 PM »

Just me, or should the sign always reflect the orientation? If the signal is vertical, the sign should show a vertical signal. A horizontal signal should have a horizontal signal on the sign, diagonal signal a diagonal sign, etc...

What if you're in a place like New Mexico, where 1) horizontal signals are everywhere and 2) you usually get both?

Is New Mexico also one of the only places that uses center-mounted 5-aspect signals?
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