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New York To Spend $27.5 Million Uncapitalizing Street Signs 322

250,000 street signs in New York City feature street names in capital letters only, which is not the national standard. Having no other issues on the table, The New York City Department of Transportation has decided to fix the problem and put up proper signs featuring both capital and lower-case letters at a cost of $27.5 million. The Transportation Department hopes to have the job completed by 2018 with 11,000 of the most important improperly capitaled signs fixed by the end of the year. Catastrophe averted.
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New York To Spend $27.5 Million Uncapitalizing Street Signs

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  • I Think.... (Score:5, Funny)

    by DIplomatic ( 1759914 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:51PM (#33761106) Journal
    ...it's a CAPITAL idea!
    • by Syberz ( 1170343 )

      ...it's a CAPITAL idea!

      Looks like all the signs where in upper case so they decided to spend 27 mil to fix it.
      *puts on sunglasses*
      I think it's a capital idea.


      - There, fixed it for ya.

  • Yeah... (Score:2, Funny)

    Because with the economic woes, war in Afghanistan going poorly... we need to rush to uncapitalize the signs in New York. Or the terrorists win.
    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Swarley ( 1795754 )

      As far as the economic woes, seems like as good a way to create jobs as any. It's basically just stimulus money that happens to be taking care of a long term issue at the same time.

      • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

        by JonySuede ( 1908576 )
        I don't agree with you, it is not a good a way to create jobs as any. Replacing working sings is really much a textbook example of the Broken window fallacy
  • Awesome (Score:4, Funny)

    by jonnythan ( 79727 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:52PM (#33761136)

    This is a great initiative to implement when facing massive, crippling budget deficits.

    • Re:Awesome (Score:5, Informative)

      by rgmoore ( 133276 ) <glandauer@charter.net> on Friday October 01, 2010 @05:43PM (#33765488) Homepage
      If you had bothered to read the article- yeah, I know, this is Slashdot- you would have noticed that they mention that the cost is marginal. That's because the signs would need to be replaced on about the same schedule anyway as part of routine maintenance. So a more accurate description of the article would be "New York plans to use mixed case instead of all caps during routine street sign maintenance". But that wouldn't get enough people angry, so they went with the more inflammatory version.
  • by Spiflicator ( 64611 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @12:52PM (#33761140)
    Certainly wont pull in anywhere close to the cost of replacements, but I imagine authentic street signs for particular streets would sell for a decent price.
    • by rsborg ( 111459 )
      Awesome idea. You could bring in real $$ for the more famous streets (Wall St, Broadway, etc).
  • All that will do is cause the UNIX guys to froth at the mouth.

    Capitals are the work of the devil!

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      The my work here is done.

      OTOH, it's not exactly hard to get them to froth at the mouth. Just a few quick ways:
      1) How stupid is it I have to watch me casing
      2) Why can't this have a good input like windows
      3) You should have
      4) Here is a new keyboard.
      5) we cleaned the boxes out of your cube.

  • by AxemRed ( 755470 )
    Does this have something to do with economic stimulus money that needs to be used or lost? I wouldn't be surprised with an idea this unusual and seemingly trivial...
    • Meh, for all we know they just didn't do enough construction.

      Welcome to the world of budgets: if you don't spend it this year, you don't get it next year.

      And you may actually *need* it next year.

  • Don't you know, ALL CAPS is like yelling at someone! So they are working to make these signs more net-friendly. So when I tell you to go to 5TH STREET and BROADWAY, you won't have to ask me to quit yelling and I won't have to explain that I wasn't yelling and that is how the street names are actually spelled.

  • Hyperbole, much? (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Guppy06 ( 410832 )


    "The Federal Highway Administration said the new sign standards improve safety because they allow drivers to identify words more quickly, allowing them to swiftly bring their eyes back to the road."

    Yeah, pointless government waste.

    • by Syberz ( 1170343 )

      Me says: "Being stuck in traffic allow drivers to take all the time they need to read the street signs and identify words as slowly as they want, allowing them not care about how fast they bring their eyes back on the yellow cab in front of them."

  • Money well spent (Score:5, Interesting)

    by bobdotorg ( 598873 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @01:02PM (#33761328)

    This is money well spent, at least on busier intersections, and exits from limited access highways.

    Drivers can read / recognize mixed case from further distance than all caps.

    It's not a great leap to conclude that with this change, drivers will make fewer last second swerves, or stop short less often. TFA alludes to this.

    Safety increases ever so slightly, but for millions of people, and for many years.

    Though if I were a NY tax payer I would prefer that they replace them through attrition. The fact that it will take until 2018 makes this seem to be partially the case.

    • Mod parent up! +1 sensible.

    • $27.5 million because they claim your eyes will return to the road a split second faster, making the roads safer? Please provide some fact to back up that claim. How many accidents are officially recognized as being caused by the driver not being able to read a street sign fast enough?
      • Headline grabbing. The signs have to be replaced over time anyhow. It's not the signs themselves that cost millions, but the people doing the work. All said, this money would probably be spent anyway, but now it's not in all caps.
      • by spazdor ( 902907 )

        Please provide some standards to back up your demand. Under what circumstances would a car accident be "officially recognized" as having been caused by too-slow reading speed, even if it was?

        The answer, obviously, is none. Illegible signs only contribute to car accidents as a confounding factor which exacerbates other factors. In order for the sign to distract you, there has to have been an unexpected hazard to distract you from, and that hazard is what gets written down on the accident report.

      • by Americano ( 920576 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @02:32PM (#33763076)

        60 mph = 88 feet per second.

        Say the new signs get your eyes back on the road half a second quicker - that's 44 *less* feet that you've traveled without watching the cars in front of you.

        Don't think a lot can happen in that 44 feet you traveled in that extra half second?

        Stopping distance for a car going 60 mph (assuming 1.5s reaction time + avg braking distance of ~250 feet, multiple sources found through google report that this seems to be the average consensus, yielding ~350-400 feet as stopping distance on a flat/level/dry surface, for an auto traveling at 60mph.

        So that 44 feet is about 10% of your stopping distance - a 10% larger margin of safety every time you look away from the road and read a road sign. That's not trivial, especially when you consider the hundreds of thousands of vehicles travelling around NYC. If it helps prevent 2 minor accidents a day, that's lower emergency services costs, slightly lower insurance rates, less money spent on road repairs, and less money spent on average by people repairing their vehicles. If the science behind the studies is sound, it does add up in the aggregate.

    • by Amouth ( 879122 )

      given average worked days a year is ~250 (5 days a week 50 weeks a year) over 8 years.. they need to replace 125 signs a day to hit 250,000. i'm not sure how many man hours it takes to replace a street sign - i know some are harder than others and some can could allow you to replace 2 or more at once.. but ... i'd say for a 2 man crew i would be surprised if they could replace more than 4 an hour.. given the average work time in a work day ~4-5 hours (8 -lunch -breaks -travel time) a 2 man crew lets say

    • "Drivers can read / recognize mixed case from further distance than all caps." Citation, please? When they "upgraded" our local street signs to mixed case, they also changed the size of the sign and the letters to about 175% of the old sign. I think *that* might have had a more significant effect on those last minute swerves. And all the *important* signs, like SPEED LIMIT and SLOW SCHOOL ZONE are in caps?
  • Non-story (Score:5, Informative)

    by NeoRete ( 628054 ) on Friday October 01, 2010 @01:02PM (#33761354)
    In another article [nypost.com] about this states that NYC replaces 8,000 signs a year anyway due to wear and tear and has until 2018 to finish.
    From the article:

    The additional cost to the city, if any, will be "marginal" because it receives a steady stream of state funding for routine sign repairs and replacement, DOT spokesman Seth Solomonow said. The life of a typical sign is about a decade, so most of the city's signs would be replaced in the next few years anyway, Solomonow said.

    They didn't follow federal regulations on road signage, but are fixing them now as part of regular maintenance.

  • I knew I should have listened to my mother and gone into the street sign business.

    I could have been set for life!

  • I guess $108 / sign isn't too horribly high since you are paying for gas, workers, equipment, etc. but damned if they didn't pick a horrible time to decide they needed to fix what really amounts to a non-problem.

    • by geekoid ( 135745 )

      It is a problem. Currently, they cause more accidents. and it's over 8 years.
      The government rolls on. stuff needs to be done.

  • by Remus Shepherd ( 32833 ) <remus@panix.com> on Friday October 01, 2010 @01:11PM (#33761514) Homepage

    Hold on! That UPI article is deceptive, and does not tell the whole story. Check out the original article in the NY Daily News [nydailynews.com], which I found via MotherJones: [motherjones.com]

    The mixed upper- and lowercase rule was adopted in 2003, but municipalities were given until 2018 to comply completely, Hecox said....The additional cost to the city, if any, will be "marginal" because it receives a steady stream of state funding for routine sign repairs and replacement, DOT spokesman Seth Solomonow said. The life of a typical sign is about a decade, so most of the city's signs would be replaced in the next few years anyway, Solomonow said.

    So the signs are going to be replaced on a schedule where they would be replaced anyway, almost all of the funding comes from the routine sign replacement budget, and the whole deal was arranged back in 2003.

    This is a non-story that some political jerks want to blow up into unreasonable proportions.

    • This is a non-story that some political jerks want to blow up into unreasonable proportions.

      And apparently it's working, based on some of the posts in here.

    • Maybe NYC gets the luxury of replacing its signs every ten years but there are places in the rest of New York where you can still see barely legible 30+ year old signs with the zinc frames (think Sesame Street).

    • by city ( 1189205 )
      Oh good, I see the trolls who start the email chains that my dad then spams me with have made it to slashdot...
  • When driving in/around NYC, I always wondered why it felt like I was being yelled at. =P
  • for a CAPSLOCK street.
  • where people write and approve troll articles to increase page views. Next up: "THE GUBMINT IS COMIN TO TAKE UR GUNS AWAY!!"

  • $27.5 million for 250,000 signs. That's $110 a sign. If an average sign has about 9-11 letters that's about $10-12 a letter.

Help! I'm trapped in a PDP 11/70!