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Thread: Roadside letters

  1. #1

    Default Roadside letters

    Is it me or do pretty much all the road signs on the highways need new lettering in Oklahoma City. Every street sign going westbound on I-40 after i-44 needs new lettering eastbound airport road at i-44 needs new lettering where else?

  2. #2

    Default Re: Roadside letters

    Itís an epidemic.

  3. Default Re: Roadside letters

    These two stretches of road were done around the same time by the same contractor and were installed in the mid-2000s. The reflective sheeting they were using must have been faulty or something. Other signs of similar vintage haven't fared as badly.

    Oklahoma road signage is widely regarded as some of the worst in the country. (Among sign enthusiasts, particularly bad signs are called "ODOT Specials" even when they're not from Oklahoma.) Even when it's in good condition, quality control is often lacking. Text is often off-center and the spacing and margins are often uneven or lopsided. Sometimes all of the letters in a word aren't the same size.






    In my opinion, it reflects badly on the state, since signs such as these are going to be looked at much more closely by non-locals than locals do.

  4. Default Re: Roadside letters

    Yes, reflectivity of lettering at night is bad in quite a few places. Just write ODOT and let them know, the more they hear, the more they will pay attention to it.

  5. #5
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    Default Re: Roadside letters

    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrator View Post
    Yes, reflectivity of lettering at night is bad in quite a few places. Just write ODOT and let them know, the more they hear, the more they will pay attention to it.
    Now that is funny.

  6. #6

    Default Re: Roadside letters

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott5114 View Post
    These two stretches of road were done around the same time by the same contractor and were installed in the mid-2000s. The reflective sheeting they were using must have been faulty or something. Other signs of similar vintage haven't fared as badly.

    Oklahoma road signage is widely regarded as some of the worst in the country. (Among sign enthusiasts, particularly bad signs are called "ODOT Specials" even when they're not from Oklahoma.) Even when it's in good condition, quality control is often lacking. Text is often off-center and the spacing and margins are often uneven or lopsided. Sometimes all of the letters in a word aren't the same size.






    In my opinion, it reflects badly on the state, since signs such as these are going to be looked at much more closely by non-locals than locals do.
    Scott, any idea why our signs are so bad? Just the usual ODOT attention to detail?

  7. #7

    Default Re: Roadside letters

    Every sign on the stretch of I-40 between I-44 and the Canadian River need replaced, they're nearly unreadable.

  8. #8

    Default Re: Roadside letters

    Well while they have paint out, LOL, Why don't they paint the lane markings/side markings etc on the roads?????? NOT LOL

  9. Default Re: Roadside letters

    Is ODOT even making these themselves now? I thought they used to have a group that did this internally, but the lack of quality makes me think that it got outsourced and we're getting what we paid for. My guess is they had those letters, so it was cheaper to use them than to buy others. So it could very easily just be a simple matter of cost savings...again getting what we paid for.

  10. Default Re: Roadside letters

    Quote Originally Posted by bombermwc View Post
    Is ODOT even making these themselves now? I thought they used to have a group that did this internally, but the lack of quality makes me think that it got outsourced and we're getting what we paid for. My guess is they had those letters, so it was cheaper to use them than to buy others. So it could very easily just be a simple matter of cost savings...again getting what we paid for.
    Yes they used to have a sign shop up on Memorial and I-35, but I think now that they've privatized metro maintenance with CPI (I think is the company) they may do the signs also. As for the signs across the state outside OKC and Tulsa, each division has a sign shop that makes the signs.

    I was going to comment that I've always noticed some weird signs driving around the state but never realized it was as big of a problem as it really is. You don't notice this kind of crap on Texas roadways.

  11. #11

    Default Re: Roadside letters

    I honestly enjoy the terrible formatting on a lot of these signs. It’s a quirk of the state. If I have some time, I’ll post some of my favorites that I’ve seen around OKC.

  12. Default Re: Roadside letters

    Quote Originally Posted by Swake View Post
    Now that is funny.
    Why? That has been my experience with other things. Most of the time when I write about concerns they get taken care of--now this is for things like roadside litter and potholes, and this one is a lot bigger, more expensive concern, but if enough people complain frequently, it tends to move up the list.

  13. #13

    Default Re: Roadside letters

    I do not know the whole process of how directional highway signs are made, but judging by the pictures above, it appears the equivalent of making a poster for your kids school project when it's due Monday morning, but it's Sunday night and you ran out of enough letters of the same style/size, so you just use what you have left, because Hobby Lobby is closed.

    I imagine the different sizes/cases are a result of left over reflective letters from past projects, and to save money, you just continue to use what you have, because it is already paid for?

  14. Default Re: Roadside letters

    Quote Originally Posted by scottk View Post
    I do not know the whole process of how directional highway signs are made, but judging by the pictures above, it appears the equivalent of making a poster for your kids school project when it's due Monday morning, but it's Sunday night and you ran out of enough letters of the same style/size, so you just use what you have left, because Hobby Lobby is closed.

    I imagine the different sizes/cases are a result of left over reflective letters from past projects, and to save money, you just continue to use what you have, because it is already paid for?
    The process is that basically you get a big roll of reflective sheeting, then the letters are cut out of that by a plotter. Normally the sign design is fed directly to the plotter, and then the cut-out letters are applied to the sign face as a unit. It's basically no different than the process for how vinyl graphics are applied to the windows of cars or commercial buildings. Just scaled up massively (a capital letter on a sign like this is sixteen inches tall).

    It's entirely possible they are actually pre-cutting letters and sticking them on one at a time, but it would be a horrifically inefficient and error-prone way of doing it.

  15. Default Re: Roadside letters

    Quote Originally Posted by bombermwc View Post
    Is ODOT even making these themselves now? I thought they used to have a group that did this internally, but the lack of quality makes me think that it got outsourced and we're getting what we paid for. My guess is they had those letters, so it was cheaper to use them than to buy others. So it could very easily just be a simple matter of cost savings...again getting what we paid for.
    Generally, large projects comprising multiple signs over a stretch of road are outsourced. ODOT can do them internally but they normally only do so for one-offs, like when a sign is destroyed by a crash or tornado, or when the content of one sign needs to change.

  16. Default Re: Roadside letters

    Quote Originally Posted by HangryHippo View Post
    Scott, any idea why our signs are so bad? Just the usual ODOT attention to detail?
    I wish I knew, but without knowing someone on the inside I can only guess as to the reasons. As stated, the majority of the freeway signs are outsourced. The procedure here is basically that ODOT puts a sign contract up for bid and provides the blueprints for what they want on their website. Anyone can download these, which I do from time to time. A few projects have careless errors on the blueprints (things like mixing up state and US shields or misspellings will usually happen at this stage). However, the contractors often don't actually fabricate the signs according to the blueprint, and that's when a lot of these errors will be introduced.

    Now, neither of those are unique to Oklahoma. Mistakes happen. But what seems to happen in every other state (except New Mexico, somehow they're worse than us) is that if the contractor doesn't fabricate the sign according to the spec sheet the DOT will refuse to accept delivery and make them do it over at the contractor's expense. (I have personally witnessed this happening on [non-ODOT-maintained] Main Street in Norman, actually; an off-center sign was posted for about a week or so, then it disappeared and the old sign was reinstalled for a few weeks, then a new, properly centered one was installed.) For whatever reason ODOT will just accept whatever the contractor gives them and there's no pushback at all.

    This extends far beyond just the obvious mistakes anyone would notice, by the way. All three of the signs I posted that include arrows are using the wrong type of arrow according to federal standard, despite the correct one being used on the plan sheets. The contractor unilaterally changed the design without anyone at ODOT saying anything about it, apparently. I can understand that this is a minor technical blemish, but at the same time the federal government puts a lot of money into testing to ensure that the standards communicate the information as effectively as possible, so when they are not followed, we all lose out.

  17. Default Re: Roadside letters

    Quote Originally Posted by Celebrator View Post
    Why? That has been my experience with other things. Most of the time when I write about concerns they get taken care of--now this is for things like roadside litter and potholes, and this one is a lot bigger, more expensive concern, but if enough people complain frequently, it tends to move up the list.
    I don't know about anyone else, but any time I have emailed ODOT I don't even get a reply, not even so much as a form letter. (Now granted, I'm sarcastic enough about them online that they might have my face on a dartboard in their breakroom, but...)

  18. Default Re: Roadside letters

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott5114 View Post
    I don't know about anyone else, but any time I have emailed ODOT I don't even get a reply, not even so much as a form letter. (Now granted, I'm sarcastic enough about them online that they might have my face on a dartboard in their breakroom, but...)
    Right, I don't ALWAYS get a response, but often get a visible result. Sometimes I get neither. On another note, I have found the City to act on Action Center requests more quickly.

  19. Default Re: Roadside letters

    Quote Originally Posted by Scott5114 View Post
    I wish I knew, but without knowing someone on the inside I can only guess as to the reasons. As stated, the majority of the freeway signs are outsourced. The procedure here is basically that ODOT puts a sign contract up for bid and provides the blueprints for what they want on their website. Anyone can download these, which I do from time to time. A few projects have careless errors on the blueprints (things like mixing up state and US shields or misspellings will usually happen at this stage). However, the contractors often don't actually fabricate the signs according to the blueprint, and that's when a lot of these errors will be introduced.

    Now, neither of those are unique to Oklahoma. Mistakes happen. But what seems to happen in every other state (except New Mexico, somehow they're worse than us) is that if the contractor doesn't fabricate the sign according to the spec sheet the DOT will refuse to accept delivery and make them do it over at the contractor's expense. (I have personally witnessed this happening on [non-ODOT-maintained] Main Street in Norman, actually; an off-center sign was posted for about a week or so, then it disappeared and the old sign was reinstalled for a few weeks, then a new, properly centered one was installed.) For whatever reason ODOT will just accept whatever the contractor gives them and there's no pushback at all.

    This extends far beyond just the obvious mistakes anyone would notice, by the way. All three of the signs I posted that include arrows are using the wrong type of arrow according to federal standard, despite the correct one being used on the plan sheets. The contractor unilaterally changed the design without anyone at ODOT saying anything about it, apparently. I can understand that this is a minor technical blemish, but at the same time the federal government puts a lot of money into testing to ensure that the standards communicate the information as effectively as possible, so when they are not followed, we all lose out.
    I wonder if the issue is written in to the wording of the contract? Maybe ODOT doesn't get that level of discretion to reject it? Heck, they dont seem to be able to do that for road work, so why signs? If they could, then 240's work a few years ago would have been rejected as the "new" paving on eastbound 240 is bumpier than the old stuff was. You could see the dirt wasn't leveled before they laid the road down, and the bumps just followed up to the surface. Crappy work, crappy review. But did they even have the option to say "fix it". I know we all love to harp on ODOT, but does anyone know if they actually have the ability to make those controlled reviews and rejections? I can't imaging that there are this many people working in ODOT that are just so unconcerned about the product being put out.

    I would also think that if ODOT has this ability to reject, then contractors would know this and would be more likely to do a better job to prevent the cost of the work being re-done. Seems like there must not be that incentive since it happens regularly.

  20. Default Re: Roadside letters

    I think everyone will be pleased to know that the signs along I-40 west of I-44 are contracted to be replaced over the coming months:
    https://oklahoma.gov/odot/citizen/tr...vel-delay.html

    Here's hoping they're not hideous! I'll see if I can dig up the plan sheets to get a sneak preview.

  21. Default Re: Roadside letters

    Here is the plan sheet for the project, which also covers a portion of I-235 (including replacing that stupid-looking Sheridan sign I posted upthread): https://www.odot.org/contracts/a2022...4-FULLFILE.pdf The good stuff starts on page 22.

    It looks mostly clean to me. There are few very minor glitches here and there like too-narrow margins on one sign and an overly-rounded border on another, and a few where I was like "well, I wouldn't do it that way, but it works", but all in all I'll be happy...if they get made according to the plans.

    The contractor on this is Action Safety. We'll see if they're up to the task.

  22. #22

    Default Re: Roadside letters

    Thanks, Scott!

    Who makes the decision to split a name to two rows vs just one?

  23. Default Re: Roadside letters

    Quote Originally Posted by HangryHippo View Post
    Thanks, Scott!

    Who makes the decision to split a name to two rows vs just one?
    That would be the individual designer, in this case Heather H. Bo, PE, with Kimley Horn. (Props to her, she did a good job with this.)

    There aren't any actual rules regarding line breaks in the manual. Normally, a line break is used to separate two different destinations. However, particularly long destinations made of multiple words (like street names) can be split up on multiple lines if space concerns dictate. You can also combine two destinations on one line if you separate them with a hyphen (this is done on sign #49 of this set).

    Signs that are unusually long and short or tall and narrow are more difficult to install, so you normally want to get a sign to be as square as possible when it's practical to do so. But this should, of course, not affect the clarity of the message.

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