31 May 2008

Signs of the times

Bippin' around Z-town and the north of the parish today, I happened to encounter quite a few more of these monstrosities, about ten or fifteen of them in various locations to be exact:

(Picture is from a previous roadtrip)


Ya know, the DOTD has likely never heard of the maxim, "If it ain't broke don't fix it."  Our current state highway shield - exactly like the above, except with white lettering on a green background - is distinctive, inviting, and familiar.  Its one real shortcoming is that the digits are too small to read legibly at high speeds.  I would not have minded reforming the shield to rectify this issue.  I have no idea why the DOTD uses FHWA Series B font on these signs anyway - they can easily fit Series C and even D.

Instead they change the color, so that it now resembles every other ugly black and white state shield in the country!

The DOTD spends it time and energy changing something that needs no fixing, while neglecting to engage in real reform by removing from its jurisdiction thousands of miles of roads that have no business being maintained by the state (including a number of unsealed roads).

Perhaps the idea is to revert to the pre-1960 shield which was a black outline of the state on a white background with black lettering.  Or maybe the idea is to sync the actual shield with how it is displayed on Interstate BGSs.  I believe that FHWA somehow mandates this.  Older BGSs show the state shield as a white outline on a green background (similar to what California does) but all newer BGSs (last 10 yrs. or so) display the LA sign with the state shape being entirely white, below black lettering (which looks nothing like the actual green on white shield with which we are so familiar).

Previous to today I have seen two of these B&W signs posted in the field in wildly different locations, and thus assumed they were flukes.  But now I am convinced that the LaDOTD intends to slowly replace the current state shield with this impostor, as they go about the usual process of periodically replacing older signs.

Most of the LA shields in this state are relatively new, and there are many state highways, so it will take many years to see full rollout.  So far I have only seen them on major state highways.  I have confirmed sightings of these signs on LA 14 at Kaplan (see above photo), LA 76 at Lobdell, LA 64 in northern EBR parish, and LA 19 in Zachary and Baker.  I also understand that they are beginning to creep up in the northwest part of the state.

Insofar in this state's history there have been three variations of the green LA shield, which dates to about 1960 or so.  Each variation refined the state outline to be progressively less crude and more detailed.  (This is what the original 1960 shield looked like, for comparison.)  These were improvements...but no longer, it seems.  While Oklahoma and SC progress with their state highway signing practices, we regress.  Typical Louisiana way.

(Credit to Southeastroads.com, a division of AARoads, for the linked pictures)