Alert reader Jim has used a mix of technologies — e-mail and an old-fashioned sketch — to ask a signage question:
I’ve attached a crude drawing of some road signs. The top two make sense to me and are commonly used. The lower left sign is also commonly used, but it surely does not make sense when compared to the top two. I don’t know if the bottom right would be a logical sign to use when two lanes merge, but I like it.
(When Roadguy was a kid, he thought of the sign at the lower left as “bacon,” because it looked to him like two strips frying.)
I forwarded Jim’s e-mail to Heather Lott, signage maven at the Minnesota Department of Transportation. Heather gets some interesting correspondence — she once had a citizen send her a PowerPoint presentation on signs, complete with cars that moved. “I wanted to hire the guy,” she told me last week.
Heather’s thoughts on the signs above:
The top left sign is a MERGE sign, the top right is an ADDED LANE sign. The bottom signs are used for warning traffic that the lane is ending. The sign he drew on the lower left is actually no longer a federally recognized sign.
Perhaps the feds have decided that promoting bacon is bad for public health. Heather says Minnesota has some options for replacing the out-of-favor signs.
MnDOT policy is to use the “RIGHT/LEFT LANE ENDS” and “LANE ENDS MERGE LEFT/RIGHT” signs. We are doing this on State Highways through attrition. You may still see the older versions out on the roads since the compliance date is 2013.
So, Jim has good transportation instincts (as many people named Jim do).