Stop, no go

No turns, right lane must turn right

Paul Schlichtman wonders what he's supposed to do at the intersection of routes 16 and 38 in Medford.



Free tagging: 


Easy answer

Whatever you want, just like every other intersection in Mass. (Assuming you're in a car.)

makes me wonder

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which sign was there first and did the person installing the sign give any thought at all about what they were doing? no wonder traffic signs get no respect!

did the person installing the

did the person installing the sign give any thought at all about what they were doing?

How are you enjoying your first day in Massachusetts?

You know that area by Harvard

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You know that area by Harvard on Mem Drive, heading westbound, where there are cars parked at most times of the day? The one where you're going 40 when BAM, surprise lane change? It's been removed since, but someone put up a "lanes merging" sign there on one of the massive elm trees... which was impossible to see early because of other elm trees and a curve in the road. By the time you saw it you were already supposed to be changing lanes.

I used to ask the same question you are asking, but not anymore.

Installed New Sign — Didn't Fix Old Sign

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The Google Street View image from last year shows the same intersection before the sign was installed. Note how the "One Way" / "Do Not Enter" sign is damaged and bent over, exactly as it still appears today..

So no, the traffic engineers and installers pay no attention to existing signs, or consider whether they're relevant or even still functional. Add new signs, while ignoring the old ones.

Traffic engineer?

I'm not even sure that Medford has one of those - and if it did, it would have been some friend of McGlynn's family with no business doing that job.

They really shouldn't be

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They really shouldn't be placed on the same pole to avoid this very confusion, but "NO TURNS" is referring to the merge between South St and the Mystic Valley Pkwy offramp. It's the standard sign MassDOT (and some other states) uses statewide at merges.

Essentially these signs are saying you can't turn at the merge right here, but at the next intersection the right lane must turn right.

It makes a lot more sense in context: Note that the sign is a recent install - wasn't up when Streetview came through a year ago.

New Pole

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I see the No Turns sign at the merge that you discuss, but it looks like both of these signs are on a new pole at the corner past the merge.

I agree it's not really in

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I agree it's not really in the right spot, I was just pointing out that having both signs does make sense at that location. Just not together in that exact spot.

There's a term for this in construction

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It's called Errors & Omissions...somebody goofed in design or in installation. No doubt the signs should have been constructed, but something got lost in execution.

That's the least of this

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That's the least of this intersection's problems. It needs a real traffic light, not a blinking yellow. It's incredibly dangerous to cross over Main Street to continue onto Mystic Valley Pkwy. Cars pull out into this intersection and force oncoming traffic to yield. I go out of my way to avoid it.

They tried real traffic lights

or so I'm told, many years ago. When they had real traffic lights it was impossible to sync them with the lights in Medford Sq. in such a way that it didn't completely screw up traffic in Medford Sq. beyond all belief and repair. So they set it on "flash" and left it.


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If it needs this many signs maybe the intersection is just too complex in the first place?

Nine signs

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If you count the traffic light, and count the downward-facing pedestrian and his arrow as two, there are nine signs in that photo. Going for the record ? Sponsored by Recaptcha ?

Nine? Amateur!

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I count 11 pieces of metal that are signs in the photo. Going roughly left to right, top to bottom:

One Way
green street name sign
back of big square sign at angle
No Turns
Right Lane Must Turn Right
yellow Ped Crossing sign
yellow arrow below Ped X sign
white Median sign on bottom left of photo
sign behind white Median sign on same pole, probably a no U turn or another median sign

two more... see the thin pole on the opposite side of the street from the Ped X sign. Look closely on the right side of the pole. The top sign is an MBTA bus stop sign, and there's one below it that's a diamond -- probably a yellow Ped Crossing sign.

That's 11. 11 distinct pieces of metal sign in the photo. Plus a three globe traffic light and a ped crossing light.

I bow down

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before thee. I should go into a different line of work.

Actually I noticed the white sideways-facing sign on the pole across the street right after I posted, but I liked the way "Nine Signs" sounds, so I didn't change it. "Nine Signs" sounds like a spooky low-budget paranormal film. "Ten Signs" sounds like a rom-com based on a Cosmo cover.

The No Turns sign from the

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The No Turns sign from the Google Maps image isn't there anymore. I suspect they just moved the sign and the pole down to the intersection and added the new Right Turn sign, which has a wood back, so it may be a temporary sign.

A left turn must turn left sign was also added at the intersection, and it was striped to three lanes with arrows in each lane.

The Medford SeeClickFix website/app has some entries about this intersection (South Street at Main Street) about the traffic signals not activated, lack of controlled crossing, and Medford and DCR each not taking responsibility for it. Ultimately from the first link below, it appears MassDOT is adding conduit in case signals get added.

I really don't understand the

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I really don't understand the MassDot response that was posted on the SeeClickFix site. There are full traffic lights at this intersection that have been set to just blinking yellow and red lights.

Why would they need to run new conduits to change the lights from blinking to full green/yellow/red? It's not like they don't already have electricity running to the lights.

If the conduits are for the potential of pedestrian signals that is great, but that isn't preventing the light cycle from being changed.

Nothing will happen for a while there

People have been wanting those signals on for decades, but I believe there is a classic MDC/DCR vs City issue going on with them. The other side is DCR territory, or so I've been told for years.

In any case, the current traffic pattern is temporary due to the reconstruction of the Craddock Bridge on Main St., Medford and the installation of a temporary bridge to take 1/2 the traffic. The scheme makes more sense from the seat of a kayak going underneath, but there are reroutes to the approach to the temporary bridge and the use of half a bridge at a time headed southbound.

The striping put in at this intersection since the google maps has been really helpful to keep people from just making up their own lanes and rules - much easier to navigate on a bike coming across now that there is a lane for going straight across.

Crosswalk Crackdown

Absent proper signals, they could just start writing tickets. It is right in front of the police department.


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Yup. I got a seatbelt ticket instead of a moving violation because I turned left on N Washington just before​ the bridge into Charlestown. Went back by to look for the sign, and sure enough, no turn during rush hour on the light poll for opposing traffic.

Then there's the right turn green light a few blocks from my home timed to go at the same time as the crosswalk... next to a T station. Or the two left turn only lanes that are continuous. I could go on, but we all know...

Its placement violates

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Its placement violates standards.

"If turn prohibition signs are installed in conjunction with traffic control signals:
The No Left Turn (or No U-Turn or combination No U-Turn/No Left Turn) sign should be installed adjacent to a signal face viewed by road users in the left-hand lane."

It's next to a signal face that is only viewed from the opposite direction. And it's outside the sightline cone.

The operative word here is "should"

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In this case, given the intersection skew, the placement of the sign on the back of the opposing signal face is perfectly appropriate and does not appear to be outside the line of sight for approaching drivers. Unless you'd rather they provide a longer mast arm for the sole purpose of supporting a sign indicating the restriction.

Agreed. The statement quoted

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Agreed. The statement quoted is a "should" statement, not a "shall" statement, and thus not a requirement, but a suggestion.

The statement is also intended to prevent installation of such a sign somewhere where it is not really visible to traffic it is intended for, e.g. on the mast arm for cross traffic.