Wrong-size Bay Bridge signs to go Aesthetics prompts their replacement

October 25, 1993|By Peter Jensen | Peter Jensen,Staff Writer

The state is replacing $4,400 worth of signs on the Chesapeake Bay Bridge because they aren't aesthetically pleasing.

The signs, which read, "Obey Lane Signals," were hung above lanes on the westbound span last summer as part of an effort to improve safety. At peak travel times, the span is converted to two-way traffic -- one lane eastbound and two westbound.

Last spring, the Maryland Transportation Authority ordered signs 5 feet wide and 4 feet high to post on the overhead structures along the bridge, said Anthony Brown, spokesman for the authority.

Instead, the signs were fabricated 4 feet wide and 5 feet high. State Highway Administration workers at the Sign Operations Section in Hanover allegedly misread the order and reversed the dimensions.

The mistake was noticed when the signs were delivered to the Bay Bridge, but authority employees installed them anyway. In places, the signs extend 6 inches above and below the edge of the overhead structures.

Maintenance crews began taking down the signs this week, closing two lanes and temporarily backing up westbound traffic. The SHA sign shop produced 80 signs of the correct dimensions to replace and augment the old ones.

Why so much fuss to make signs flush?

Mr. Brown said there was no safety advantage, only an improvement in appearance.

"The signs just weren't what we ordered," Mr. Brown said. "We just corrected the order."

The $4,400 price tag for the original signs is an estimate for materials. It doesn't include labor by the sign shop or the authority.

The displaced aluminum signs will be recycled, officials noted.

The signs were part of a $95,000 effort to improve Bay Bridge safety in the wake of two multicar pile-ups during the summer of 1992. The improvements included overhead strobe lights, pavement markings, larger traffic signs and a crackdown on speeders.

The westbound span is usually converted to two-way traffic only on summer weekends, generally Friday nights and Saturdays when traffic headed to the Atlantic Ocean beaches is at its heaviest.

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