Alex Goldmark is a senior producer in the newsroom for New Tech City and Transportation Nation.
(Alex Goldmark, Transportation Nation) The Federal Highway Administration is telling New York to replace a quarter of a million street signs to conform to national standards. It all comes down to readability. The FHA argues that the additional milliseconds it takes to discern what a sign says, keeping eyes off the road, amount to a safety risk.
The current signs are in all caps (above), the new ones will introduce lowercase (below). They will also be in a specially designed font called Clearview.
The ruling actually came down in 2003 with a fifteen year deadline to New York and other communities around the country. It came to light today when the New York Daily News reported that the cost of the street sign copy edit will be $27.5 million. New York replaces 8,000 signs each year anyway for general wear and tear, so the gradual phase in of the $110 signs won't cause any major hassle to the city's Department of Transportation.
That's probably why NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg castigated a Daily News reporter at a press conference for asking a question on the topic, calling it "the most ridiculous question that I've been presented with in nine years."