General Question

elbanditoroso's avatar

Why are highway signs in California in such lousy shape?

Asked by elbanditoroso (24883points) March 19th, 2013

I’m in California this week on business, and have noticed some things about the big green highway signs as I have been driving around the LA-Long Beach-Santa Ana-Riverside area on various highways.

1) Many of the green overhead signs are horribly faded, to the point where the letters and symbols are no longer reflective. Contrast on some of them is practically non-existent.

2) It seems that when there is a change or correction, the highway department might mount a small (2 foot by 2 foot) bright green patch on the sign rather than redoing the sign. Of course, the correction is reflective and easy to read, but the rest of the sign is still illegible.

3) Exit numbers appear to be an afterthought, and they are inconsistent. Every other state numbered their exits from time immemorial. California, it seems, just tacks on exit numbers when they feel like it – not every exit has an exit number, and they are inconsistently noted on the approaches. They are way out of synch with what GPSs are saying.

4) Yellow “this lane must exit’ signs don’t point to the actual lanes – they sort of point to the general direction but aren’t really accurate (at least around Pomona).

5) The dashed white lane lines are almost totally worn out or bleached out. (Yes, they have those metallic reflectors in most places, but not everywhere)

Any other state in the union would be embarrassed to have such lousy signage on highways. (well, except Massachusetts).

Why does California let theirs be so substandard and awful?

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7 Answers

CWOTUS's avatar

It has been over ten years since I’ve driven in California, so I can’t comment on roads I haven’t seen lately. However, you’ve pretty much described the road signs on I-84 in New York. When I see one of those big green signs at night and can’t read any of it, I take a quick glance at the GPS to see what exit I’m near. (Fortunately, New York is seldom a destination for me, but it is nice to know where I am sometimes, and how soon I’ll be in PA or CT where I might be able to read the signs.)

Of course, Connecticut has the super-frustrating habit of adding and cutting off lanes without much notice, tons of “Exit Only” and left side exit lanes, and the winding, up-and-down roads that New England has always been famous for, translated to the Interstate. At least we haven’t cut back the trees for 50 yards on the side of the roadway, as Massachusetts has. Maybe we just ran out of money for that.

YARNLADY's avatar

Signs are the last thing the transportation department worries about. Unfortunately, the taxpayers read about the lavish parties the politicians put on using money set aside for transportation and come to the conclusion that the state does not need any more taxes. Perhaps they are correct. Corruption is so widespread, it’s a wonder anything ever gets done.

sinscriven's avatar

Maybe because more money is dedicated to actual roadwork than signage. It is kind of weird though how we do have the millions to dedicate to completely reshaping the entire 91/215/60 Interchange but not the crappy signs around it.

What I’ve noticed though is that it’s not just a “calfironia” thing, because if you go to the bay area the signage is completely different. They’re clean, and plentiful, and more importantly give more detailed information and easier to understand than those in SoCal.

SoCal’s signs have never had the exit numbering system, and that was supposed to be phased into existing roads over time.

boffin's avatar

Why are highway signs in California in such lousy shape?

The answer to 4 & 5
Cal-Trans has probably added more lanes to accommodate the increase in traffic. Your GPS hasn’t caught up with the changes.

Don’t quote me these are just guesses.

CWOTUS's avatar

I recalled this story which is apropos to the question. (I hadn’t seen the end to the story, though. It’s not a good one.)

mattbrowne's avatar

Because people see paying taxes as an evil thing.

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