Thursday, October 29, 2009

MDOT's Poet Laureate

A couple of years ago, MDOT worked out a sweet arrangement with the feds over the installation of a couple of changeable message signs it ultimately placed along the I-75 corridor just south of Grayling, one facing each direction.

If the state kicked in $220,000 of Michigan taxpayer money, Uncle Sam was willing to ante up the other half of taxpayer money to get those signs sending the important messages that motorists need to see.

The message signs are a part of a national network of "Amber Alert" signs to be used to flash quick messages to motorists as they traveled. Why the signs were placed on a section of freeway that gets only a fraction of the travel that other sites do is not clear to me because I'm too lazy to look it up.

I have looked at these signs every time I have traveled that road since they were installed. Today's southbound message was

FALL IS HERE
PLEASE DO NOT VEER
TO MISS A DEER.

The north bound sign on my return trip cautioned me that there was going to be lane closures ahead, a fact I might have noticed on my own given the hundreds of orange traffic barrels spread out as far as the eye could see and the now antiquated orange construction signs along the side the freeway that said something forgettable like "Left lane closed ahead."

There are always great ideas on which bureaucrats can burn other people's money; money that was removed from an efficient and productive private sector to be spent by poet dreamers who have been chained to a government desk most of their life. There will never be an end to these dreams despite the nation's stiffening possession laws.

I try to make a point of looking at the signs whenever I travel down that stretch of highway. Buckle up. Watch for deer. Do not exceed posted limits. Never go against a Sicilian when death is on the line.

The feds and state have spent hundreds of billions of dollars over the years on road projects and on support for the arts. Maybe one of these times the two behemoth bureaucracies can can get their heads together and ponder a message sign campaign that would actually encourage motorists to look at the signs instead of blowing by them habitually because they have rarely, if ever, carried a memorable message.

I'm holding out for haiku.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

You should see the waste here in Lansing along I496. They installed berms and benches and waste recepticles at the interchanges. Other than an occassional homeless person sleeping on the benches I have not seen anyone using them. There are at least six of these. There are not a lot of people that want to sit and watch traffic enter and exit the expressway. Huge waste of taxpayer dollars.

Ric Locke said...

Haiku, no. We need a return of the Burma-Shave concept.

"The orange barrels
Indicate
You needn't hurry
You have to wait
....MDOT"

Regards,
Ric

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