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Author Topic: Questionable Freeway Lane Drop Signage  (Read 452 times)

stridentweasel

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Questionable Freeway Lane Drop Signage
« on: March 20, 2019, 11:48:20 PM »

The MUTCD requires overhead signs with "EXIT ONLY" panels for all lane drops on freeways and expressways (Section 2E.24).  So why do some freeway lane drops go for significant periods of time without this kind of overhead signage?

A local example that comes to mind is southbound US 69 in Overland Park, Kansas, in advance of the 135th Street exit.  For a long time, the lane drop was not even signed at all, but the city and/or the state finally did something to address it.  They used post-mounted signs with a black-on-yellow "RIGHT LANE ONLY" panel for the 135th Street exit guide signs.  One of these was even replaced recently with a nearly identical sign, and a new one was added.  The exit direction sign lacked any lane drop indication until recently, when the "RIGHT LANE ONLY" panel was added to that one, too.  This is an example of the style of signage I am referring to: https://goo.gl/maps/f4XBtMdHgmu

I've also noticed two major areas in Texas where the #3 and/or #4 lanes were dropped without the MUTCD-prescribed type of signage: EB I-10 around TX Loop 375 on the east side of El Paso, and NB US 75 around McKinney.

Is there a good reason for doing this (aside from saving money on signs)?  Are these DOTs experimenting with new types of lane drop signage for later addition to the MUTCD?  What do other people think about freeway lane drops that lack the MUTCD-prescribed signage?
« Last Edit: March 20, 2019, 11:51:43 PM by stridentweasel »
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1995hoo

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Re: Questionable Freeway Lane Drop Signage
« Reply #1 on: March 21, 2019, 08:58:58 AM »

The District of Columbia has no sign whatsoever on inbound I-395 telling you the right lane is exit-only at 12 Street, unless you count the diagrammatic sign (I don’t because I think that’s too subtle for most drivers). Bugs the crap out of me because so many people in the right (exit) lane want to stay on the highway and will obstruct exiting traffic, both by stopping in the exit-only lane and by barreling straight across the option lane as it exits. Certainly some of them are local drivers who know the road and want to cut ahead of traffic, but plenty are tourists who don’t know the road. There’s really no valid reason for it not to be better-signed.

Here’s the diagrammatic sign a quarter-mile in advance: https://goo.gl/maps/rytCfW1KGYs

Here’s the last sign before the exit: https://goo.gl/maps/yBT52RY65a62 (If you back up slightly, you’ll see the Jeep that’s in front of the white pickup in the lane to the left bailed out just after passing this sign assembly.)
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stridentweasel

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Re: Questionable Freeway Lane Drop Signage
« Reply #2 on: March 21, 2019, 09:52:38 AM »

The District of Columbia has no sign whatsoever on inbound I-395 telling you the right lane is exit-only at 12 Street, unless you count the diagrammatic sign (I don’t because I think that’s too subtle for most drivers). Bugs the crap out of me because so many people in the right (exit) lane want to stay on the highway and will obstruct exiting traffic, both by stopping in the exit-only lane and by barreling straight across the option lane as it exits. Certainly some of them are local drivers who know the road and want to cut ahead of traffic, but plenty are tourists who don’t know the road. There’s really no valid reason for it not to be better-signed.

Here’s the diagrammatic sign a quarter-mile in advance: https://goo.gl/maps/rytCfW1KGYs

Here’s the last sign before the exit: https://goo.gl/maps/yBT52RY65a62 (If you back up slightly, you’ll see the Jeep that’s in front of the white pickup in the lane to the left bailed out just after passing this sign assembly.)

That's not good, but I gotta say, at least the diagram accurately depicts the lanes.  Unfortunately, that isn't true about all diagrammatic signs (which is part of the reason I don't like them).  When I drove the truck through Nashville, TN, I frequently encountered one that was blatantly inaccurate in its depiction of the lanes, and I sometimes ended up in situations where I wished I had changed lanes earlier.  If I remember correctly, it was somewhere on southbound I-65, but I can't remember which of the exits/splits it was for.  Tennessee usually does a better job at signage than that.
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roadfro

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Re: Questionable Freeway Lane Drop Signage
« Reply #3 on: March 23, 2019, 02:59:28 PM »

The MUTCD requires overhead signs with "EXIT ONLY" panels for all lane drops on freeways and expressways (Section 2E.24).  So why do some freeway lane drops go for significant periods of time without this kind of overhead signage?

A local example that comes to mind is southbound US 69 in Overland Park, Kansas, in advance of the 135th Street exit.  For a long time, the lane drop was not even signed at all, but the city and/or the state finally did something to address it.  They used post-mounted signs with a black-on-yellow "RIGHT LANE ONLY" panel for the 135th Street exit guide signs.  One of these was even replaced recently with a nearly identical sign, and a new one was added.  The exit direction sign lacked any lane drop indication until recently, when the "RIGHT LANE ONLY" panel was added to that one, too.  This is an example of the style of signage I am referring to: https://goo.gl/maps/f4XBtMdHgmu

The sign linked here is not necessarily clear that the right lane exits, as the "right lane only" legend doesn't necessarily invoke "exit only" (although the black-on-yellow does help). A better message would be "RIGHT LANE EXIT ONLY", as seen in the only similar instance I know of in Nevada: 1/2 mile advance and exit direction sign.

Also bad in your example is that the exit direction sign at the actual exit does not include any warning message whatsoever—there is a merge from the left between the first warning and the actual exit.

Additionally bad in your example is that the wrong lane line markings are used. Instead of the normal broken lane lane, there should be a dotted lane line indicating that the lane drops. This is a standard specified in MUTCD section 3B.04, and in my mind is even more egregious than the substandard signage. (Note: This pavement marking standard was introduced in the 2009 MUTCD, whereas overhead exit only standards go back to at least the 2000 MUTCD.)

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Is there a good reason for doing this (aside from saving money on signs)?  Are these DOTs experimenting with new types of lane drop signage for later addition to the MUTCD?  What do other people think about freeway lane drops that lack the MUTCD-prescribed signage?

I don't think there is a good reason for this practice at all, other than a cost-saving measure. My guess (which I'm about 90% certain is the case in my Nevada example) is that the signs are a "quick fix" solution where a road widening resulted in the introduction of the lane drop, and this was an easy way to mark the situation without installing overhead sign structures. Although really, that's not a good excuse. I'm a big believer in signing (and striping) things appropriately, so that driver expectancy isn't violated.
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stridentweasel

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Re: Questionable Freeway Lane Drop Signage
« Reply #4 on: March 24, 2019, 03:05:14 PM »

The sign linked here is not necessarily clear that the right lane exits, as the "right lane only" legend doesn't necessarily invoke "exit only" (although the black-on-yellow does help). A better message would be "RIGHT LANE EXIT ONLY", as seen in the only similar instance I know of in Nevada: 1/2 mile advance and exit direction sign.

I agree that "RIGHT LANE EXIT ONLY" would be a better warning panel legend.  Missouri sometimes uses that on post-mounted signs.  Of course, it would require making the sign larger, which adds to the cost of the sign.

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Also bad in your example is that the exit direction sign at the actual exit does not include any warning message whatsoever—there is a merge from the left between the first warning and the actual exit.

They recently added the "RIGHT LANE ONLY" panel to the exit direction sign.

Quote
Additionally bad in your example is that the wrong lane line markings are used. Instead of the normal broken lane lane, there should be a dotted lane line indicating that the lane drops. This is a standard specified in MUTCD section 3B.04, and in my mind is even more egregious than the substandard signage. (Note: This pavement marking standard was introduced in the 2009 MUTCD, whereas overhead exit only standards go back to at least the 2000 MUTCD.)

I agree they should have used a dotted line here.  Kansas usually does that for lane drops, so I don't know why it neglected this one.  Texas seems to be better at using dotted lines, even when they fail to use MUTCD-prescribed signage.

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I don't think there is a good reason for this practice at all, other than a cost-saving measure. My guess (which I'm about 90% certain is the case in my Nevada example) is that the signs are a "quick fix" solution where a road widening resulted in the introduction of the lane drop, and this was an easy way to mark the situation without installing overhead sign structures. Although really, that's not a good excuse. I'm a big believer in signing (and striping) things appropriately, so that driver expectancy isn't violated.

I, too, believe in the importance of signage.  From a pragmatic perspective, I can understand using cost-saving measures, but there is an art and balance to it.  If you willfully deviate from the MUTCD, you should make certain that your signs convey the appropriate message clearly and accurately.
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