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Author Topic: Adventures in Utah signage  (Read 99922 times)

CL

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Adventures in Utah signage
« on: January 22, 2011, 10:08:25 PM »

Here are some photos of newer Utah signs I've taken within the last month, mostly from Davis County.



Only sign in the state that has the yellow left exit tab as provisioned in the 2009 MUTCD.



Brand new state highway shields. Finally, a newer variation that looks good in three-digit width. In the last ten years Utah's been experimenting with several variations of the beehive shield, and unfortunately most are just plain ugly. Also, Utah began placing the year of installation on signs in 2010, in the lower left corner of each sign, much like Wyoming. What is the benefit of doing so?



The "N-BND RAMP" sign is yellow on black... I don't think I've ever seen this before.



The older UDOT standard of using three-digit U.S. shields on BGSs has reappeared in this instance.



And, for good measure, I include the eastern terminus of Utah's newest freeway, Southern Parkway in St. George, opened in 2009 (the picture you see is a portion of roadway that opened this last November). When I went on this road in December, I encountered perhaps ten cars and just as many bicyclists on the seven-mile stretch (and that's to and back). This road is more of a futureproofing type of thing, as right now the only thing this road connects to is the new municipal airport (granted, the airport hadn't opened when I was there in December). There is not an SR-7 shield anywhere on the road, though it is signed as such on BGSs at I-15.


Well, there you have it. A sampling of signage in the Beehive State.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2011, 12:20:50 PM by CL »
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Re: Adventures in Utah signage
« Reply #1 on: January 23, 2011, 01:11:17 AM »

I cannot guarantee that I could parse "N-BND" in enough time to make an accurate decision about it.  Couldn't they just call it "NORTH"?

the three-hives look surprisingly decent.  can you get us a close-up of a shield or two for the gallery?  I had never noticed any when I was last in Utah.
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Re: Adventures in Utah signage
« Reply #2 on: January 23, 2011, 01:44:08 PM »

the three-hives look surprisingly decent.  can you get us a close-up of a shield or two for the gallery?  I had never noticed any when I was last in Utah.

I know, it's a surprise. I've actually been planning for a while to get close-up photos of all the various styles of shields that are present now (from that '61 spec SR-224 shield to the new styles that have shown up). I'll send you an email when I have those.
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Re: Adventures in Utah signage
« Reply #3 on: January 23, 2011, 01:44:17 PM »

I cannot guarantee that I could parse "N-BND" in enough time to make an accurate decision about it.  Couldn't they just call it "NORTH"?

What is it supposed to represent? Does I-15 have ramp meters or something?
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CL

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Re: Adventures in Utah signage
« Reply #4 on: January 23, 2011, 09:21:08 PM »

I cannot guarantee that I could parse "N-BND" in enough time to make an accurate decision about it.  Couldn't they just call it "NORTH"?

What is it supposed to represent? Does I-15 have ramp meters or something?

Oh yeah. The first ramp meters were installed on I-15 in the early '90s.
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Re: Adventures in Utah signage
« Reply #5 on: February 07, 2011, 07:15:20 PM »

Here's some more - I took advantage of some good lighting, finally:



Utah switched over to this outline style for U.S. highways on BGSs. I don't think it looks bad, but why is it so small compared to the I-84 shield?



Here's the only road in the state you'll find Clearview on, Legacy Parkway. This road opened 2008 and is a true example of how environmentalists can alter the way a road is constructed. I'm not against the environment or anything, but some of the things done were unnecessary. However, I do like that there's a restriction on trucks and billboards on the freeway.



More Clearview. It looks good, in my opinion.



Here's a contractor muck-up. Using a two-digit spec shield that Utah hasn't used in ten years to make it three-digit width, and huge numerals. Utah needs to place more control on its contractors. Seriously.
« Last Edit: December 23, 2011, 12:30:14 PM by CL »
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Re: Adventures in Utah signage
« Reply #6 on: February 07, 2011, 08:13:29 PM »

I was so sorely disappointed by the Legacy Parkway.  I had thought "wow, here's some obscure route that I'd never noticed before on my maps - this must date back to the 40s, after all it's called a Parkway... right???  and with no route number, this must be some derelict old city freeway, probably filled with white guide signs and cutouts" WRONG!
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Re: Adventures in Utah signage
« Reply #7 on: February 10, 2011, 10:03:52 PM »

I was so sorely disappointed by the Legacy Parkway.  I had thought "wow, here's some obscure route that I'd never noticed before on my maps - this must date back to the 40s, after all it's called a Parkway... right???  and with no route number, this must be some derelict old city freeway, probably filled with white guide signs and cutouts" WRONG!

Well, it is Salt Lake... you'd be hard-pressed to find anything before 1985 here. Either an old sign is taken down or covered over by a newer sign. In the case of old road alignments in the area, those have been blocked off to traffic. Take, for example, old US-40 just west of Summit Park (right along the Summit/Salt Lake County line), and old US-30S east of Ogden, which has some spectacular looking old bridges and a tunnel.
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Re: Adventures in Utah signage
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2011, 01:43:42 AM »


Well, it is Salt Lake... you'd be hard-pressed to find anything before 1985 here. Either an old sign is taken down or covered over by a newer sign. In the case of old road alignments in the area, those have been blocked off to traffic. Take, for example, old US-40 just west of Summit Park (right along the Summit/Salt Lake County line), and old US-30S east of Ogden, which has some spectacular looking old bridges and a tunnel.

I had no idea such a 30S alignment existed! 

I do know you can still drive old US-40 from exit 48 off I-80 all the way to Wendover.  So it looks like the whole 'block the road off' thing is just a Salt Lake City area thing?  Or maybe the railroad needs the access for maintenance trucks, and that's why 40 is open.  But then again there's plenty of old US 6/50, 91, etc, well out in the sticks.  Even 30S going in to Idaho, complete with 1960s Idaho welcome sign!
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Re: Adventures in Utah signage
« Reply #9 on: February 11, 2011, 11:46:20 PM »


I had no idea such a 30S alignment existed! 


Don't quote me on that, as I'm not 100% sure if it's the old road alignment or perhaps an old railroad (though I'm leaning toward the former). The tunnel and bridges certainly look old enough to be from the 1920s or '30s though.

And as for the closing off of road alignments, certainly that's just a Salt Lake thing (another example is an abandoned concrete alignment of the Lincoln Highway between Tooele and Salt Lake City north of SR-201), with the exception of old US-40 west of the airport being used as a frontage road. But yeah, outside the city you can easily access old alignments, when they haven't been paved over by freeway.
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Re: Adventures in Utah signage
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2011, 07:23:25 AM »

Where is this supposed old US-30S alignment? The only tunnel I see east of Ogden is a rail tunnel north of I-84, between exits 87 and 92.
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Re: Adventures in Utah signage
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2011, 12:30:29 PM »

Where is this supposed old US-30S alignment? The only tunnel I see east of Ogden is a rail tunnel north of I-84, between exits 87 and 92.

That must be it. :/ I thought that wasn't a railroad as there was another visible railroad from the freeway parallel to it. Is it possible that a railroad was built over the old road alignment?
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Re: Adventures in Utah signage
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2011, 02:51:31 PM »

The tunnel alignment was built in 1926 as a second main track: http://utahrails.net/articles/weber-echo.php http://utahrails.net/up/up-in-ut-1900-1996.php
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Re: Adventures in Utah signage
« Reply #13 on: March 01, 2011, 10:31:59 PM »

Finally, some historical photos I got a hold of:



A whole sign devoted to explaining the basic function of a freeway? Wow! (This sign was removed by 1976, as seen here)



Neither US-50 nor US-91 reach Spanish Fork anymore, though the latter received a much worse fate.


(Images all used by permission, Utah State Historical Society, all rights reserved.)

This one's my favorite. Jake, if you see this, I'll email you a copy of this photo for the shield gallery once I get a digitized scan of it.
« Last Edit: April 20, 2011, 09:49:00 PM by CL »
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Re: Adventures in Utah signage
« Reply #14 on: March 01, 2011, 10:35:15 PM »

would love to see high-resolution photos of all three; especially the first one with the freeway warning on the left and the four shields on the right!
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Re: Adventures in Utah signage
« Reply #15 on: March 01, 2011, 11:06:26 PM »

The thing is that low-resolution photocopies (which have several small photos to an 8.5" x 11" page) cost 10 cents per page, whereas high-resolution scans cost 10 dollars per page. Asinine, I know, but that's the State Archives for you.
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Re: Adventures in Utah signage
« Reply #16 on: March 01, 2011, 11:11:41 PM »

ugh.  well, let's find a picture that we're willing to spend 10 dollars for. 

a few years ago I shelled out $12 for this Oregon US 28 shield photo:

http://shields.aaroads.com/show.php?image=OR19260281&search=28
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Re: Adventures in Utah signage
« Reply #17 on: March 01, 2011, 11:21:45 PM »

I already bought two pages (including that one with the US-50 Alternate photo, plus I'm almost positive one there is an image with this spec of shield in it). I have 143 more boxes of photos to go (a lot of the photos are irrelevant and it takes me about twenty or thirty minutes to get through one box), so we shall see. The people at the State Archives will hate me for it, but I'm going through every single box.
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Re: Adventures in Utah signage
« Reply #18 on: March 01, 2011, 11:24:31 PM »

would be cool to find an in-the-wild photo of the oval-beehive-opening '61 spec Utah shield.

the signal-to-noise ratio of state archives tends to be pretty bad.  I remember looking through thousands of photos, mainly aerials, at the Caltrans library, just to find some surface-level shots with freeway black guide signs in them.  the occasional stand-alone shield was a complete bonus!
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Re: Adventures in Utah signage
« Reply #19 on: March 01, 2011, 11:41:52 PM »

The thing is that low-resolution photocopies (which have several small photos to an 8.5" x 11" page) cost 10 cents per page, whereas high-resolution scans cost 10 dollars per page. Asinine, I know, but that's the State Archives for you.

Will they allow you to take your digital camera in and take your own copies?  Pretty much every archives I have worked with allows it (with the lone exception of the Archivo General de la Administración), though flash is always a no-no and it can sometimes be a little tricky to avoid shadows, specular glare, and motion blur with the ambient lighting provided.

Example of a digital camera copy (resampled) of an archival photo (from file MT 39/191 in the UK National Archives, in this case):

http://www.sabre-roads.org.uk/wiki/index.php?title=File:Parabolic-arch-concrete-bridge-carrying-alresford-road-over-winchester-bypass.jpg
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Re: Adventures in Utah signage
« Reply #20 on: March 01, 2011, 11:48:22 PM »

Yes, actually, I forgot about this! I came in for the first time today and they actually told me this was permissible. It's free too. Still not to the quality of a scan, but hopefully I can make it work out. My biggest worries are, as you said, the side effects of taking a photo of a photo. Also, since the pictures usually measure three or four inches on one side, I may have issues with the camera focusing on such a small image.
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Re: Adventures in Utah signage
« Reply #21 on: March 02, 2011, 12:07:24 AM »

the digital camera approach is doable.  as one example, I took this photo of maybe a 3x5 inch crop of an 8x6 photo:



see here for the highest possible resolution.  not bad.

http://shields.aaroads.com/img/CA/CA19520701l1.jpg

just gotta remember to crank up the ISO to compensate for low ambient lighting, and position yourself in such a way to minimize the glare from the direct light sources.  

And take about four or five shots of each photo so you are much more likely to get one that isn't blurry.  I used the Nikon 18-200 VR lens at about 75mm to get my photos at the Caltrans library.
« Last Edit: March 02, 2011, 12:11:21 AM by agentsteel53 »
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Re: Adventures in Utah signage
« Reply #22 on: March 02, 2011, 11:10:54 AM »

I bought my first digital camera (a Kodak LS443 with 4 MP, 3:2 image aspect ratio) in 2003 specifically to take pictures of documents in archives.  When the lens failed on that first camera in 2007, I upgraded (Canon PowerShot A640 with 10 MP, 4:3 image aspect ratio).  In my experience, a digital point-and-shoot camera is adequate for records office work.  With the exception of low lighting conditions, where the much higher purchase price presumably buys more aggressive noise reduction at ISOs of 800 and higher, I would expect a digital SLR to be overspecified for the job.

In regard to resolution, I have found that a 10-MP camera has enough resolution to produce usable photos of 11" x 17" construction plan sheets, provided that the entirety of the plan sheet is in or close to the plane of focus of the camera.  When the resolution is that high, it matters less what the image aspect ratio is.  With the older digital camera I was working with a much lower pixel count, so I deliberately passed over 4:3 cameras and went for a 3:2 camera because I expected to be working primarily with British office foolscap in the UK National Archives (office foolscap has not been used in Britain in close to thirty years, but is similar to American 8 1/2" x 14" legal size).  I understand that the National Archives has now invested in digital scanners and established a service whereby you can scan your own document, the Archives keeps a copy of the scan, and you get access to your scan via email or Web.  For US state archives and the National Archives and Records Administration, I think you still have to bring your own equipment.  NARA has historically allowed not just digital cameras, but also portable scanners.  The Caltrans library (whose photo collections Jake explored) does not allow scanners and charges $10 per copy of an 8" x 10" print done by an outside contractor, but as Jake found, they don't object to digital camera copies taken without flash.

It is useful to have a digital camera which is lightweight and relatively easy to maneuver--aside from the other considerations mentioned, such as lighting and resolution, you need to be able to get as much of a flat original as possible within the plane of focus.  A high frame rate is helpful for taking pictures of multiple documents in rapid succession, but it still pays to use the LCD screen to check focus for each shot (as a general rule of thumb, the more of the original that is in the plane of focus, the higher the count of focusing rectangles in the LCD screen).  For taking pictures of photos, the LCD screen is also essential for checking that there is no specular glare.

11" x 17"/A3 is pretty much the size limit for a single-frame picture without acrobatics.  34" x 22"/A1 is doable but not without holding the camera above shoulder level or standing on chairs.  When the original is larger than 8 1/2" x 11"/A4, it is prudent to take at least one image of the entire surface of the original, and then move in closer for detail shots.  The standard program setting will work for entire-surface shots of large originals, but for smaller areas (including entire surfaces of ordinary-sized originals), the macro function will be necessary.  Recently I took a complete camera copy of the first construction plan for signing on the Kansas Turnpike (which was shown to me as a set of 11" x 17" mirror-image whiteprints), and came away with 358 shots, of which 41 were whole-sheet shots of the original (which had 38 sheets for signing for the signing contract proper plus multiple sheets of typical sections which were presumably included on a "for information only" basis), with the remainder being detail shots.

As a general rule, the macro function will be necessary for ordinary-sized pieces of paper and anything smaller (including, say, 4" x 6" photos).  While there will be some variation from camera to camera, with the macro function on my PowerShot I have found that moving to a normal angle of view (corresponding to 50 mm focal length for a 35-mm camera) will get rid of pincushion or barrel distortion, but won't allow an object of interest to subtend a larger solid angle (and thus take up more pixels in the frame) compared to what can be achieved by moving in closer and using mild wide-angle (corresponding to 35 mm focal length for a 35-mm camera).

For avoiding specular glare on glossy originals, it is helpful to identify the point sources of light in the environment and to try to move the original so that it is equidistant between the two nearest point sources.  This is essentially how copy stands are made for professional duplicating work--two light sources are positioned on either side of the original and set to shine on it obliquely so that it is evenly illuminated but reflections off the surface are not visible through the camera lens.

For standard office strip lighting, I have found that ISO 400 is usually adequate.  I will go up to ISO 800 for exceptionally poor lighting situations, but I generally prefer not to do it because image graininess is much greater at that ISO with my PowerShot.  Archives which rely heavily on natural lighting (through picture windows etc.) can present special problems--you might be able to go as low as ISO 100 during the day and then have to jack up to ISO 800 when the sun sets (as it will during office hours in winter, at a sufficiently high latitude) or cumulonimbus clouds roll in.

It also pays to mind your auto white balance, and set the camera for tungsten if you are working with a blue tabletop or, e.g., one of your light sources is ordinary incandescent while the other is a compact fluorescent.  A consistent yellow cast won't ruin pictures of bitonal or grayscale originals but can get annoying.
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Re: Adventures in Utah signage
« Reply #23 on: March 02, 2011, 08:23:59 PM »

Well, alright. I shall try. I don't think my camera even has an adjustable ISO though, but it has some rudimentary light and "indoor" settings so I'll play with that. I greatly appreciate your advice... I'll report back once I come back from my next visit (next week? their hours are terrible so that's doubtful).
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Re: Adventures in Utah signage
« Reply #24 on: March 06, 2011, 12:43:12 AM »

Will they allow you to take your digital camera in and take your own copies? 

Or a laptop with a USB-powered or FireWire-powered flatbed scanner?

I have a small USB-powered flatbed. It's only 1.1 so it's a bit slow, but it works and it's very thin and easily slips into a backpack for scanning anything 8.5 x 11 or smaller.
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