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Author Topic: Oklahoma DOT interesting contract advertisements  (Read 13120 times)

J N Winkler

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Re: Oklahoma DOT interesting contract advertisements
« Reply #25 on: October 03, 2017, 12:33:38 PM »

I have a few observations of my own, after going through the combined 109 sheets of sign panel detail and sign elevation sheets for these two projects:

*  At least one of the stippled-arrow diagrammatics (at Shields Blvd.) is apparently to be used as an exit direction sign, which is a no-no.

*  Street name descriptions have been greatly simplified, to remove periods in cardinal direction and suffix abbreviations and to eliminate capitalized and underlined superscript for ordinals.  What might have been "S.E. 44TH St." on an older sign is now just "SE 44th St."

*  Interchange sequence signs have 16" UC/12" LC for street names and (apparently) 15" whole number/10" fraction digit for the distances, instead of the more usual 13.3" UC, whole number/10" LC, fraction digit.  They also have 36" for Interstate/US/state route shields instead of 24", and 48" for the OTA vanishing-point turnpike marker.  The existing primary destination legend of "Turnpikes," used on I-35 for the I-44/Kilpatrick Turnpike interchange complex, is eliminated.

*  As regards the turnpikes, while I like the use of the "Toll" banner on both interchange sequence and advance guide signs (in line with current MUTCD requirements), I don't feel the new messages improve motorist comprehension above and beyond the current legends, largely because even at the 48" size the name of the turnpike is much harder to read on the OTA vanishing-point marker than it is when rendered against green background as primary destination legend.  48" and 36" markers side by side also look awkward.  I think a better solution would be to assign state route numbers to all of the OTA facilities that are not already part of the Interstate or US systems, and use numbered shields with "Toll" banners in lieu of the vanishing-point marker.  There should also be a separate policy, coordinated between ODOT and OTA, to ensure that each motorist is not able to access a toll road from untolled infrastructure without being advised of his or her last legal opportunity to avoid paying toll.  At minimum such a policy would entail "Last Free Exit" when the road ahead becomes a turnpike, "No Free Exit Before Toll" when an intersecting road has no way off before the tollbooths, and "Toll On Ramp" (or some appropriate variant) at a turnpike access point off a surface street.

*  I also noticed the lack of consistency between "City Limits" and "CITY LIMITS."

*  Memorial highway designations still appear in white on green.  Current policy calls for white on brown.

*  A few advance guide signs, notably for Exit 143/Covell Road in both directions, have both fraction numerator and denominator on the same baseline (improperly constructed fraction rectangle).

*  "Exit Only" bottom panels are integrated with their corresponding main sign panels, which has historically not been the case in Oklahoma (though I have not been in OKC for a while and so have lost touch with which signs still have separate bottom panels).

*  Perhaps I am failing to appreciate that I benefit from familiarity with the interchange, but I don't think a three-headed stippled-arrow diagrammatic for I-35/Turnpikes makes it easier to understand.

*  Error shield alert!  A US 69/US 69 Business split (McAlester/Muskogee) is signed using SR 69 shields.
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rte66man

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Re: Oklahoma DOT interesting contract advertisements
« Reply #26 on: October 03, 2017, 03:34:50 PM »

I am resurrecting this thread to call attention to the October 2017 letting, which contains what I believe are Oklahoma DOT's first two pure signing contracts in some time.  The larger of the two is job piece number 32625(04), covering most of I-35 in metro OKC, the entirety of I-235, and various lengths of I-44, I-240, I-40 and--if the title sheet map can be believed--the Kilpatrick Turnpike.  The sign panel detail sheets alone run to 71 pages.


Not surprising as ODOT does all the signage for OTA.
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rte66man

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Re: Oklahoma DOT interesting contract advertisements
« Reply #27 on: October 03, 2017, 03:41:58 PM »

I have a few observations of my own, after going through the combined 109 sheets of sign panel detail and sign elevation sheets for these two projects:

I think a better solution would be to assign state route numbers to all of the OTA facilities that are not already part of the Interstate or US systems, and use numbered shields with "Toll" banners in lieu of the vanishing-point marker.

As far as I'm aware, the Kilpatrick and Indian Nation are the only turnpikes that don't have route numbers:

Turner, Will Rogers, HE Bailey - I44
Cherokee, Cimarron - US412
Creek - OK364
Muskogee - OK351

Not sure how to list the Chickasaw as it is no longer maintained by OTA.

I like the idea, but am not sure that OK drivers can make the connection.  While the Turner and Will Rogers have been synonymous with I44 for decades, how many would know you are referring to the Creek if you said OK364?
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Scott5114

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Re: Oklahoma DOT interesting contract advertisements
« Reply #28 on: October 04, 2017, 02:45:01 AM »

*  Street name descriptions have been greatly simplified, to remove periods in cardinal direction and suffix abbreviations and to eliminate capitalized and underlined superscript for ordinals.  What might have been "S.E. 44TH St." on an older sign is now just "SE 44th St."

This change brings Oklahoma signage in line with the common practice in other states. I am somewhat sad to see the underlined ordinal style go because it was an oddly fussy practice that ODOT had routinely used in the button-copy era. However, once direct-applied copy became the order of the day, its usage was far from consistent. Almost all Clearview signs used a plain ordinal, for instance.

It will be interesting to see if this sticks or if the next sign project after this returns to the periods in the cardinal direction and/or the underlined ordinals.

Quote
*  As regards the turnpikes, while I like the use of the "Toll" banner on both interchange sequence and advance guide signs (in line with current MUTCD requirements), I don't feel the new messages improve motorist comprehension above and beyond the current legends, largely because even at the 48" size the name of the turnpike is much harder to read on the OTA vanishing-point marker than it is when rendered against green background as primary destination legend.  48" and 36" markers side by side also look awkward.  I think a better solution would be to assign state route numbers to all of the OTA facilities that are not already part of the Interstate or US systems, and use numbered shields with "Toll" banners in lieu of the vanishing-point marker.  There should also be a separate policy, coordinated between ODOT and OTA, to ensure that each motorist is not able to access a toll road from untolled infrastructure without being advised of his or her last legal opportunity to avoid paying toll.  At minimum such a policy would entail "Last Free Exit" when the road ahead becomes a turnpike, "No Free Exit Before Toll" when an intersecting road has no way off before the tollbooths, and "Toll On Ramp" (or some appropriate variant) at a turnpike access point off a surface street.

Agreed on the route markers—the creation of SH-351 and 364 in Tulsa has made signage a lot less clunky. I'm a little surprised that the Transportation Commission hasn't assigned 3xx numbers to the remaining un-numbered turnpikes (the Kilpatrick, for instance, would fit well with a 374 or 303 designation). The OTA uniform marker is kind of useless for navigation in an area with more than one turnpike. Each turnpike should have some kind of visually distinct shield, so either a different graphic (as I've experimented with in the past) or a route number is the way to go.

Oklahoma could do better with Last Free Exit signs—there are some but they are not as fastidious about it as KTA is—though I disagree on the need for "no free exits" signage on intersecting roads. To me, a "toll" banner (or, as typical in Oklahoma, the all-caps legend "TURNPIKE") implies that there will be no free exits should I choose to join that route.  Last Free Exit signage is necessary when the through movement converts from toll to non-toll, as there is a natural expectation from the motorist that a non-toll route will continue to be so.

(On this subject, I've always considered MoDOT's phrasing of their Last Free Exit sign on I-44 to be pretty amusing. "Last Exit Before Oklahoma Toll Road"—it carries an implied message of "Hey, don't look at us, we wouldn't toll you...")

Quote
*  Perhaps I am failing to appreciate that I benefit from familiarity with the interchange, but I don't think a three-headed stippled-arrow diagrammatic for I-35/Turnpikes makes it easier to understand.

I can't remember whether the diagrammatic is northbound or southbound, but I can see an argument for a diagrammatic either way. Going northbound, it draws attention to the fact that I-44 is exiting the mainline. Going southbound, it helps clarify any confusion from the left-exit Sooner Road ramp being involved in the interchange complex.
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J N Winkler

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Re: Oklahoma DOT interesting contract advertisements
« Reply #29 on: October 04, 2017, 10:52:21 AM »

Agreed on the route markers—the creation of SH-351 and 364 in Tulsa has made signage a lot less clunky. I'm a little surprised that the Transportation Commission hasn't assigned 3xx numbers to the remaining un-numbered turnpikes (the Kilpatrick, for instance, would fit well with a 374 or 303 designation). The OTA uniform marker is kind of useless for navigation in an area with more than one turnpike. Each turnpike should have some kind of visually distinct shield, so either a different graphic (as I've experimented with in the past) or a route number is the way to go.

Either of those would work for the Kilpatrick Turnpike, though I confess I was toying with the idea of a SH 344 designation since it functions as a partial outer bypass of I-44.  Any number that is chosen will have to take account of the proposed Eastern Oklahoma County Turnpike (I-40/I-44 connector), for which OTA has draft plans out that use "E OK COUNTY" as the non-generic legend in the vanishing-point marker.

Oklahoma could do better with Last Free Exit signs—there are some but they are not as fastidious about it as KTA is—though I disagree on the need for "no free exits" signage on intersecting roads. To me, a "toll" banner (or, as typical in Oklahoma, the all-caps legend "TURNPIKE") implies that there will be no free exits should I choose to join that route.  Last Free Exit signage is necessary when the through movement converts from non-toll to toll, as there is a natural expectation from the motorist that a non-toll route will continue to be so.

The purpose of "No Free Exit Before Toll"/"Toll On Ramp" signing on intersecting/interchanging roads is to address the possible motorist expectation on barrier toll roads that some exits will be free before a ramp toll or mainline toll plaza is encountered.  The "Toll" banner by itself, to me, means that the road is toll-supported but not necessarily that it is impossible to use it for some length without paying toll.  I acknowledge that a strict policy of signing the last free opportunity to exit can cause complications, e.g. on barrier toll roads where the last exit before a sequence of exits with ramp tolls followed by a mainline toll plaza is a tiny ramp that can easily be overloaded by shunpiker traffic, or with toll structures where exiting early penalizes motorists since ramp tolls following a mainline toll plaza reduce, rather than add, to the amount charged at the mainline plaza.  (AIUI, the latter is not an issue with the Kilpatrick Turnpike, but it potentially is with the first-generation interurban OTA turnpikes, where the discounts for early exit are applied automatically for ETC customers and are given manually to cash customers who announce they are exiting immediately after paying toll at a mainline toll plaza--"Tell toll collector if exiting at US 177" or similar.)

Another consideration is that "Last Free Exit" signing really needs to be black on yellow background.  Besides Kansas, this is also the norm in Texas, but the signing Oklahoma provides (e.g. on westbound US 412 when the Sand Springs Expressway gives way to the Cimarron Turnpike) is usually white on green.

(On this subject, I've always considered MoDOT's phrasing of their Last Free Exit sign on I-44 to be pretty amusing. "Last Exit Before Oklahoma Toll Road"—it carries an implied message of "Hey, don't look at us, we wouldn't toll you...")

There is a message of "We will not be held accountable for the craziness our neighbors get up to" that is also conveyed by "Last Rest Area In Missouri" signing.

Not sure how to list the Chickasaw as it is no longer maintained by OTA.

I was under the impression that while the northern part was given to ODOT for maintenance, the southern part is still owned by OTA and still has tolls.

I like the idea, but am not sure that OK drivers can make the connection.  While the Turner and Will Rogers have been synonymous with I44 for decades, how many would know you are referring to the Creek if you said OK364?

I can see this being an issue if, e.g., a person had car trouble on the Creek Turnpike, and was appealing for help to a local friend (someone who always knew it as the Creek Turnpike and tuned out the SH-364 branding) by calling him or her on a cell and saying, "Hi, I'm broken down on SH 364 . . ."  But I also see this fading over time as signing is updated, paper maps without route numbers slowly leave active use, and the benefits of better map relatability with online mapping services become locked in.

As an aside, Google Maps currently shows the Broken Arrow South Loop without the SH 364 number even though there is pull-through signing at the US 169 interchange that indicates it is part of SH 364.
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Scott5114

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Re: Oklahoma DOT interesting contract advertisements
« Reply #30 on: October 04, 2017, 04:14:15 PM »

Agreed on the route markers—the creation of SH-351 and 364 in Tulsa has made signage a lot less clunky. I'm a little surprised that the Transportation Commission hasn't assigned 3xx numbers to the remaining un-numbered turnpikes (the Kilpatrick, for instance, would fit well with a 374 or 303 designation). The OTA uniform marker is kind of useless for navigation in an area with more than one turnpike. Each turnpike should have some kind of visually distinct shield, so either a different graphic (as I've experimented with in the past) or a route number is the way to go.

Either of those would work for the Kilpatrick Turnpike, though I confess I was toying with the idea of a SH 344 designation since it functions as a partial outer bypass of I-44.  Any number that is chosen will have to take account of the proposed Eastern Oklahoma County Turnpike (I-40/I-44 connector), for which OTA has draft plans out that use "E OK COUNTY" as the non-generic legend in the vanishing-point marker.

I chose those potential numbers as the precedent followed with 364 and 351 is appending a "3" to one of the non-interstate numbers the route intersects. I figure if 344 were to be used as a route number, the natural choice would be for the Creek.

Oklahoma could do better with Last Free Exit signs—there are some but they are not as fastidious about it as KTA is—though I disagree on the need for "no free exits" signage on intersecting roads. To me, a "toll" banner (or, as typical in Oklahoma, the all-caps legend "TURNPIKE") implies that there will be no free exits should I choose to join that route.  Last Free Exit signage is necessary when the through movement converts from non-toll to toll, as there is a natural expectation from the motorist that a non-toll route will continue to be so.

The purpose of "No Free Exit Before Toll"/"Toll On Ramp" signing on intersecting/interchanging roads is to address the possible motorist expectation on barrier toll roads that some exits will be free before a ramp toll or mainline toll plaza is encountered.  The "Toll" banner by itself, to me, means that the road is toll-supported but not necessarily that it is impossible to use it for some length without paying toll.  I acknowledge that a strict policy of signing the last free opportunity to exit can cause complications, e.g. on barrier toll roads where the last exit before a sequence of exits with ramp tolls followed by a mainline toll plaza is a tiny ramp that can easily be overloaded by shunpiker traffic, or with toll structures where exiting early penalizes motorists since ramp tolls following a mainline toll plaza reduce, rather than add, to the amount charged at the mainline plaza.  (AIUI, the latter is not an issue with the Kilpatrick Turnpike, but it potentially is with the first-generation interurban OTA turnpikes, where the discounts for early exit are applied automatically for ETC customers and are given manually to cash customers who announce they are exiting immediately after paying toll at a mainline toll plaza--"Tell toll collector if exiting at US 177" or similar.)

I think this makes assumptions that the driver knows details of the unnecessarily fussy Oklahoma tolling system at a level that is probably fine to abstract away. I would imagine that most drivers, when seeing a road marked "Toll", would instinctively assume that any travel on such road will immediately incur a toll liability. This is fine—if they find a free exit after joining the road, it is a pleasant surprise.

Not sure how to list the Chickasaw as it is no longer maintained by OTA.

I was under the impression that while the northern part was given to ODOT for maintenance, the southern part is still owned by OTA and still has tolls.

Other way around, actually—the southernmost segment (southwest of US-177) is owned by OkDOT and signed as SH-7 Spur. Northeast of US-177, the road is still the Chickasaw Turnpike and tolls are still assessed.

If a numerical designation were desired here, the SH-7 Spur designation could simply be extended over the OTA portion of the route. If there was a need for a separate designation for the OTA-maintained portion of the road, SH-301 is pretty much the only viable option.
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bugo

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Re: Oklahoma DOT interesting contract advertisements
« Reply #31 on: October 19, 2017, 08:51:36 PM »

As an aside, Google Maps currently shows the Broken Arrow South Loop without the SH 364 number even though there is pull-through signing at the US 169 interchange that indicates it is part of SH 364.

"Broken Arrow South Loop" is not an alternate name for the Creek Turnpike as far as I know. I think it was called that when it was still in the planning stage. Still, the maps should only show Creek Turnpike/OK 364.

At least it doesn't say "Liberty Parkway".
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Bobby5280

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Re: Oklahoma DOT interesting contract advertisements
« Reply #32 on: October 20, 2017, 10:31:24 AM »

Quote from: J N Winkler
*  Street name descriptions have been greatly simplified, to remove periods in cardinal direction and suffix abbreviations and to eliminate capitalized and underlined superscript for ordinals.  What might have been "S.E. 44TH St." on an older sign is now just "SE 44th St."
Quote from: Scott5114
This change brings Oklahoma signage in line with the common practice in other states. I am somewhat sad to see the underlined ordinal style go because it was an oddly fussy practice that ODOT had routinely used in the button-copy era. However, once direct-applied copy became the order of the day, its usage was far from consistent. Almost all Clearview signs used a plain ordinal, for instance.

This highlights the limitations of current highway sign fonts. Some OpenType fonts with elaborate character sets include special ordinal glyphs with "ND," "RD," "ST," and "TH" in underlined superscript. The characters are specifically designed to fit with the other glyphs in the typeface, unlike how they're rendered here. Native small capitals are the same kind of thing. They need to be specifically designed into the typeface to look correct.

Clearview Highway had a significantly larger character set than Series Gothic. It had a complete set of accented characters for European or Latin languages (even though American highway signs discourage or ban the use of accented characters). It had a complete set of superior and inferior numbers for fractions (even though the fractions go taller than the capital "M" height). Clearview Highway is still very primitive compared to thousands of OpenType fonts in use.

Quote from: Scott5114
I chose those potential numbers as the precedent followed with 364 and 351 is appending a "3" to one of the non-interstate numbers the route intersects. I figure if 344 were to be used as a route number, the natural choice would be for the Creek.

If the turnpikes can only carry a three digit state highway number beginning in "3" I would prefer them to not carry a number synonymous with an Interstate highway. If the Creek Turnpike was named OK-344 it would sort of imply the route to be a potential Interstate spur route rather than an even numbered Interstate loop route.
« Last Edit: October 20, 2017, 10:36:39 AM by Bobby5280 »
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Scott5114

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Re: Oklahoma DOT interesting contract advertisements
« Reply #33 on: October 21, 2017, 04:30:35 AM »

Quote from: J N Winkler
*  Street name descriptions have been greatly simplified, to remove periods in cardinal direction and suffix abbreviations and to eliminate capitalized and underlined superscript for ordinals.  What might have been "S.E. 44TH St." on an older sign is now just "SE 44th St."
Quote from: Scott5114
This change brings Oklahoma signage in line with the common practice in other states. I am somewhat sad to see the underlined ordinal style go because it was an oddly fussy practice that ODOT had routinely used in the button-copy era. However, once direct-applied copy became the order of the day, its usage was far from consistent. Almost all Clearview signs used a plain ordinal, for instance.

This highlights the limitations of current highway sign fonts. Some OpenType fonts with elaborate character sets include special ordinal glyphs with "ND," "RD," "ST," and "TH" in underlined superscript. The characters are specifically designed to fit with the other glyphs in the typeface, unlike how they're rendered here. Native small capitals are the same kind of thing. They need to be specifically designed into the typeface to look correct.

Clearview Highway had a significantly larger character set than Series Gothic. It had a complete set of accented characters for European or Latin languages (even though American highway signs discourage or ban the use of accented characters). It had a complete set of superior and inferior numbers for fractions (even though the fractions go taller than the capital "M" height). Clearview Highway is still very primitive compared to thousands of OpenType fonts in use.

Of course, even if such things were included in any particular Highway Gothic implementation there is no guarantee that 1) that would be the specific implementation OkDOT would use 2) that they would use the extra features to begin with.

As an aside, I am not sure if Unicode actually specifies any codepoints for ordinal glyphs. There are codepoints for superscripted and subscripted single digits (which I believe was used to allow things like exponentiation without having to rely on some form of superscript markup), but no such thing for letters.

Quote
Quote from: Scott5114
I chose those potential numbers as the precedent followed with 364 and 351 is appending a "3" to one of the non-interstate numbers the route intersects. I figure if 344 were to be used as a route number, the natural choice would be for the Creek.

If the turnpikes can only carry a three digit state highway number beginning in "3" I would prefer them to not carry a number synonymous with an Interstate highway. If the Creek Turnpike was named OK-344 it would sort of imply the route to be a potential Interstate spur route rather than an even numbered Interstate loop route.

There is nothing saying that turnpikes have to carry 3xx letters, but this is the implied numbering scheme that 351 and 364 set out. The only other 3xx number is 325, which is at the tip of the Oklahoma panhandle, and is numbered as such to continue...NM-456. Whoops.

I believe at some point someone dug up a law that legally included the Creek Turnpike in the interstate system for some kind of funding reason, although OTA and the Transportation Commission never pursued an interstate designation for it.
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J N Winkler

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Re: Oklahoma DOT interesting contract advertisements
« Reply #34 on: October 21, 2017, 10:37:19 AM »

I believe at some point someone dug up a law that legally included the Creek Turnpike in the interstate system for some kind of funding reason, although OTA and the Transportation Commission never pursued an interstate designation for it.

Do we know for a fact that the Creek Turnpike is an unsigned Interstate of some kind?  Is it included in Oklahoma's total Interstate mileage in the FHWA Interstate log, for example?
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Bobby5280

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Re: Oklahoma DOT interesting contract advertisements
« Reply #35 on: October 21, 2017, 11:32:37 AM »

I think the whole un-signed Interstate number practice is just silly. That's just my opinion. But if the route is going to be on the books as an Interstate then it should be signed in public that way. If it's not signed then it shouldn't be on the books as an Interstate either. I just don't see any logic in granting an Interstate designation to a certain road but then never installing signs to label it that way.

There's plenty of US highways that have Interstate-quality portions to them, but they're not in the Interstate system. There's even state highways that do the same thing.

If ODOT, big wigs in Tulsa or whoever don't want I-444 to be signed, then it should be removed from the Interstate system. Same goes for I-595 East of DC and those long 2-lane highways in Alaska. If the Creek Turnpike was ever signed as an Interstate I'd be all for moving the I-444 designation to it. It makes a hell of a lot more sense for a route like that to carry the I-444 number rather than the tiny downtown inner loop in Tulsa. Heck, I wouldn't be surprised if some new urbanists started campaigning to remove part or all of that old loop.

Quote from: Scott5114
Of course, even if such things were included in any particular Highway Gothic implementation there is no guarantee that 1) that would be the specific implementation OkDOT would use 2) that they would use the extra features to begin with.

And that brings up the primitive, obsolete nature of their traffic sign making software. It's great if we're still living in 1992. But it's 2017 going on 2018 now and a lot of things have changed in computer type technology. If their software was up to date rather than resembling something that might be just as much at home on a 30+ year old computer running MS-DOS the traffic engineers and sign designers wouldn't have to worry about manually entering in special characters. The scripting in the advanced OpenType fonts could do it for them automatically.

OpenType has many features that traffic sign making applications don't support. Even more broadly used commercial sign making software like FlexiSign Pro and Gerber Omega only provide basic support of OpenType and don't make it easy at all to use extended character sets. Meanwhile mainstream professional-level graphics programs like the latest versions of CorelDRAW, Adobe Illustrator and Adobe InDesign do a much better job. The newest version of Adobe Illustrator CC, just released this past Wednesday, supports new OpenType Variable fonts and SVG OTF Color fonts. The variable font technology is a play off Multiple Master font technology where one font file could change its weight, width or any number of other "axis" designed into it. I think SVG color fonts may have a more limited use.

We have 3 licenses of Flexi in my shop, but I do all my sign design work within Adobe Illustrator and CorelDRAW. And then those art files get ported to Flexi, EnRoute, Onyx or VersaWorks for production work with the type converted to outlines.
« Last Edit: October 21, 2017, 11:34:53 AM by Bobby5280 »
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Scott5114

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Re: Oklahoma DOT interesting contract advertisements
« Reply #36 on: October 22, 2017, 03:00:56 AM »

The problem with this line of thinking is that there is no "official" version of the typeface blessed by FHWA. FHWA simply puts out the vector outlines of the base characters, and it is up to private companies (or even individuals, in the case of the Roadgeek font implementations) to create the actual OTF or TTF font files.

There is absolutely nothing legally stopping anyone from making a full-featured OTF of the font that makes Clearview look like it was made on a TRS-80. You could do it if you felt like it, and then sell the result. But most likely, it hasn't been done because it's pointless—most of these characters aren't going to be used on a sign anytime soon (why would we need Highway Gothic emojis or astrological symbols, for instance)—so there's no ROI for doing so.
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Bobby5280

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Re: Oklahoma DOT interesting contract advertisements
« Reply #37 on: October 22, 2017, 07:18:35 PM »

Quote from: Scott5114
The problem with this line of thinking is that there is no "official" version of the typeface blessed by FHWA. FHWA simply puts out the vector outlines of the base characters, and it is up to private companies (or even individuals, in the case of the Roadgeek font implementations) to create the actual OTF or TTF font files.

IMHO, there should be official font files endorsed by FHWA. That would take care of the murky language regarding typefaces in the MUTCD. Everyone uses font files to set type in any kind of recognized typeface anymore. The FHWA isn't just publishing vector outlines of base letters. They're also mandating spacing tables (kerning) as well. They might as well just get that built into an official set of highway fonts.

In my work I get pretty specific about what "flavor" of font file is used on any project. The version of Times New Roman bundled in Windows 10 is far different from the one bundled in Windows 2000. Linotype's cut of Helvetica is not the same as Bitstream's Swiss 721 knock-off of Helvetica, or any number of other knock-offs of Helvetica. And Helvetica Neue (also sold by Linotype) has many differences from Helvetica. They're not interchangeable. The distinction becomes really important if a hail stone destroys a trim-capped channel letter face on a building sign and you have to create a new one. The subtle differences from one font file to the next make the difference of whether the replacement letter face will fit or not.

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There is absolutely nothing legally stopping anyone from making a full-featured OTF of the font that makes Clearview look like it was made on a TRS-80. You could do it if you felt like it, and then sell the result. But most likely, it hasn't been done because it's pointless—most of these characters aren't going to be used on a sign anytime soon (why would we need Highway Gothic emojis or astrological symbols, for instance)—so there's no ROI for doing so.

I didn't say anything about making glyphs of emojis or astrological symbols. That kind of implies my complaints of what current highway fonts lack has about as much value of adding silly emojis and astrological symbols. My complaints about the primitive state of highway fonts are 100% valid since traffic engineers are currently resorting to totally bullshit methods to make up for what these crappy highway fonts lack.

FHWA Series Gothic, regardless of version, has no fully fleshed out sets of superior and inferior numbers for fractions. Clearview Highway has a complete number set for fractions as well as several standard fraction glyphs, but the figures and slash were drawn too high, forcing traffic engineers to Jerry-rig their own character sets to fit within the cap height boundaries.

None of the highway fonts has any native small capitals character sets. Large cap & small cap arrangements are used on cardinal direction legends and signs above route markers. The current arrangement is a kludge and a mark of bad design.

There's all sorts of other possibilities that can be included in properly designed and up to date highway fonts, such as the underlined ordinals mentioned earlier.

"Third party" users such as myself could build up new font files using FHWA data. Unfortunately the FHWA data is incomplete. The character sets I described above do not exist. Why should I or anyone else go to all the trouble of drawing up and kerning those characters only to have the FHWA almost certainly shoot them down? Since they are the ones to pass judgment on such matters those guys need to draw up the new characters and spacing tables themselves. And they need to put the screws to the sign software vendors to lift their applications out of freaking 1990's standards.

These highway signs are pretty expensive to build and install. And they stand next to or above our roads for a really long time. With such a high price one would think they could at least utilize some proper implementations of type.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2017, 10:02:00 AM by Bobby5280 »
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Scott5114

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Re: Oklahoma DOT interesting contract advertisements
« Reply #38 on: October 23, 2017, 05:15:37 AM »

I didn't say anything about making glyphs of emojis or astrological symbols. That kind of implies my complaints of what current highway fonts lack has about as much value of adding silly emojis and astrological symbols. My complaints about the primitive state of highway fonts are 100% valid since traffic engineers are currently resorting to totally bullshit methods to make up for what these crappy highway fonts lack.

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"Third party" users such as myself could build up new font files using FHWA data. Unfortunately the FHWA data is incomplete. The character sets I described above do not exist. Why should I or anyone else go to all the trouble of drawing up and kerning those characters only to have the FHWA almost certainly shoot them down? Since they are the ones to pass judgment on such matters those guys need to draw up the new characters and spacing tables themselves.

Not necessarily—have you ever seen this version of FHWA Series C?


I'm sure that you'll notice that the lowercase letters are completely different than vanilla FHWA Series. That's because these lowercase letters were drawn up years and years before official lowercase letters were designed for FHWA Series other than E. Sign agencies wanted lowercase letters, even if there weren't any "real" ones, and a type foundry met the demand.

These lowercase letters stayed in service for decades, here and there, until FHWA finally got around to designing their own lowercase characters. Most type foundries have switched over to selling the official glyphs. You can still find the old ones on new signs every once in a while.
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Bobby5280

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Re: Oklahoma DOT interesting contract advertisements
« Reply #39 on: October 23, 2017, 12:25:34 PM »

Quote from: Scott5114
I'm sure that you'll notice that the lowercase letters are completely different than vanilla FHWA Series. That's because these lowercase letters were drawn up years and years before official lowercase letters were designed for FHWA Series other than E. Sign agencies wanted lowercase letters, even if there weren't any "real" ones, and a type foundry met the demand.

A home-brewed approach is not the proper way to go about improving & expanding the character set of a type family used on highway signs nationwide. An entity like FHWA could have banned the use of those fonts at any time since they were not officially approved. At least the parties who went to the work of drawing up those lowercase letter sets actually had specific customers in mind wanting the glyphs created.

It's not clear any state agency is demanding the creation of the missing character sets I describe. So if I or any other third party went to all the trouble of expanding Series Gothic with all those extra glyphs it would all be done on spec -no pay, no guarantee at all of use and a very likely chance the endeavor would be a stupid, huge waste of time.

When FHWA finally got around to expanding the character sets of Series Gothic's lighter and more narrow weights they drew up their own glyphs rather than using any of the exising third-party versions. The fact those non-official fonts are still being used on some traffic signs is a clear example how the FHWA's current approach to type on highway signs does not work. Since there is no officially approved set of Series Gothic font files people can resort to using any flavor of "highway gothic" they find.

Clearview Highway was controversial, but at least had an official, legit set of font files. The downside was those files weren't "open source," free to use. They were expensive, especially if one bought the complete "B" and "W" sets.

Any expansion of Series Gothic needs to be done through official channels rather than letting a font fanboy spin his wheels with efforts that would likely go nowhere. The FHWA could do the work in-house or commission another foundry to handle it, with either one spending a lot of time and effort testing the results in the field. Once everything is done the official font files should be made available to the public. The FHWA could afford to do this. Even commercial companies like Google can do it (they have lots of open source fonts available). It's difficult for an individual type designer to develop a freeware font family without there being an angle to get some commercial business from the effort. The field testing from traffic engineers would knock most private, individual type designers out of this kind of project.
« Last Edit: October 23, 2017, 12:30:57 PM by Bobby5280 »
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bugo

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Re: Oklahoma DOT interesting contract advertisements
« Reply #40 on: October 27, 2017, 04:17:46 AM »

I believe at some point someone dug up a law that legally included the Creek Turnpike in the interstate system for some kind of funding reason, although OTA and the Transportation Commission never pursued an interstate designation for it.

That was probably me. The Creek Turnpike was designated as part of the Interstate System about 15 years ago but was never given an I-number.
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Scott5114

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Re: Oklahoma DOT interesting contract advertisements
« Reply #41 on: October 28, 2017, 04:57:18 AM »

I believe at some point someone dug up a law that legally included the Creek Turnpike in the interstate system for some kind of funding reason, although OTA and the Transportation Commission never pursued an interstate designation for it.

That was probably me. The Creek Turnpike was designated as part of the Interstate System about 15 years ago but was never given an I-number.

I think it was. You've always been pretty good at finding that kind of stuff.
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