State changes sign of the times

Sign on I-93 changed to reflect actual distance to Mass Ave and Zakim Bridge

Last Thursday, David Innis tweeted to MassDOT that something was amiss on this sign on I-93 south at the Somerville/Medford line - and not just that no times were showing up - because the Zakim and Mass. Ave. are nowhere near each other. By this morning, as you can see from the lower photo, the state had fixed the distance. Now if they can only get the time thing working (MassDOT says they're working on that).

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Comments

highway distance/time signs?

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ive been driving by them for about a year now. is someone going to turn them on at some point? id really love some reading material whilst I sit in bumper to bumper traffic every single day going south on 95/128.

is this rte 9 project ever going to end? At this point I feel like they are just digging holes and moving dirt around.

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Yes, but there's a lot of

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Yes, but there's a lot of back end hardware that needs to be in place and working first. They're turning them on in phases. Currently the non-interstate portion of 128 has them active, and they're also active on the Cape and approaches.

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Even When Working, Does Anyone Actually Find These Signs Useful?

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There are so many other ways for drivers to find out traffic conditions, these signs seem to be nothing but a waste of money that could be better spent on highway maintenance.

Other that letting you know you're going to be late, (as if you didn't already know that) how do these signs help anyone?

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Reduce cel usage?

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Maybe that's a feature?

In my case, they let me know that I will be early - maybe I'll have time to get fuel or buy lunch or something like that. I always assume that traffic will suck.

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Strongly disagree

By on

I find those signs INCREDIBLY helpful. They are highly accurate and timely. As much as I like "Traffic on the 3s" it's only as good as it's reports. Those signs set my expectations ("Gonna fly home" vs "Prep for a long slog") and in my experience are never wrong. Best money they ever spent.

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Yup. Traffic on the 3's is

Yup. Traffic on the 3's is great, but I find it about 20 minutes slower than the backup I'm sitting in as they're telling me the road is wide open.

Especially for longer drives, like heading down to the outer Cape from Braintree or worse, Boston, the signs give me an idea what time I'll arrive after I've already hit the road, and help me make such decision as wanting to stop for dinner on the way, or waiting until I get there.

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Same here

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Like you I find these incredibly helpful.

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I'm Glad To Hear That!

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Best money they ever spent.

Yup.

Same here.

I don't drive as much as I used to years ago, and certainly not as part of a daily commute, so I really don't know what it's like to be behind the wheel for hours every day anymore.

After doing it for decades, commuting by car became more than I could take. I can only imagine it's become even more horrible since, so you certainly have my sympathy.

If the signs really make it more endurable for you, then your informative answers to my question changed my opinion to agree with you — that they are indeed a worthwhile expenditure!

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A bigger waste...

...is the mileage markers that started cropping up about five years ago. Do we really need a reminder every two tenths of a mile of what road we're on and exactly how far we are from some undisclosed spot? They are even starting to install them on Rt 9 in Southboro.

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Yes we do

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Super useful for reporting an accident or other event and giving 911 a precise location.

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Huh?

Mile markers are as old as the highways. Maybe you just started noticing them but they have been there since the road was built. Newer roads get a marker every 1/10th of a mile.

They are as much for highway and emergency officials as they are for you.

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The increased cost by using the larger "enhanced" mileposts

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is minimal as compared to the older signs - most of the cost lies in the post and installation. In fact, because the new mile markers are installed at 2/10th mile intervals - instead of the old 1/10th mile interval (see my other post), it can be argued that the current upgraded mileposts are a similar cost. Larger panels, but fewer posts.

It's also worth noting that the 'intermediate' milepost design (i.e. MILE 12.2) we use on Interstates and freeways is unique to Massachusetts. Unlike other states, we omit the cardinal direction and route (i.e. NORTH 95) from the intermediate mileposts. Done principally for aesthetic reasons, and with the full blessing of FHWA, the smaller panels are another way that costs were minimized.

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Newer roads get a marker

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Newer roads get a marker every 2/10th of a mile. FIFY.

Prior to 2008, when the current enhanced markers started being installed, the standard in Massachusetts was to place markers every 1/10th of a mile. While they were a benefit to maintenance crews, the old markers were so small as to be nearly impossible for drivers to spot.

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Not a waste...

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If you break down on the road, they're extremely useful for communicating to AAA (or any other roadside service) your location. In sensible states with mileage-based exit numbering, the mileage markers also communicate approximately how far away your exit lies.

And the "undisclosed spot" is typically the southern or western terminus of the route, or the southern or western state/national border crossed by that route; i.e. mile marker 0 for Route 2 is the NY state line.

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Are they actually useful?

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Are they actually useful? First, your breakdown location has to be within sight of a marker, or you have to remember the last marker you saw before you broke down, unless you want to leave your car and go on a hike to find the sign.

And then do the responders know what to do with a mile number? Or would they still need to know what town and exit number you were near?

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Mile markers are every 0.2

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Mile markers are every 0.2 miles. That's about 500 ft. Unless your eyesight is really bad you should be able to see that. And if you can't see it, and your car broke down completely immobile, you are at most 250 ft from a sign. Assuming you walk at 4 ft/s, which is the average walking speed, that would take you almost exactly 1 minute.

Walking 250 ft, or one minute, is not "a hike". Have people really gotten this lazy?

And if you call 911, the dispatcher is going to know where on the highway that mile number is. That's their job. I guarantee you they would have no problem whatsoever finding your location if all you told them was "the MassPike westbound, mile 80.2".

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Useful

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I like these signs. If traffic is bad, I can think about taking another route (providing there is another route and/or I'm not already using GPS with traffic).

On a side note, they have these in Dallas BUT they don't include the mileage.

So instead of:
Greenville Ave 2 Miles 4 Minutes

We get:
Greenville Ave 4 Minutes

which is incredibly un-helpful for someone who is not local because I don't know how far Greenville Ave is from where the sign is.

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There is one on RT 3 south,

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There is one on RT 3 south, about six miles from the Sagamore Bridge. The next exit is at the bridge. Wow, it's backed up to the bridge! I better take the next exit!!

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Exit 1A is at the bridge.

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Exit 1A is at the bridge. Exit 2 is two miles before exit 1A. Exit 3 is 7 miles before exit 1A.

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And now, a quick history lesson for folks

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The current statewide project was an outgrowth of one of the principal traffic mitigation measures used during the I-93 Medford Fast 14 bridge replacement project in 2011. A large number of temporary changeable message sign (CMS) panels, similar to those used for construction work zones, were set up along both I-93 and other connecting roads north and south of the project area to display travel times through key points in both the I-93 corridor and other roadways in the Greater Boston area.

These signs were deemed to be very useful throughout the project, and were so well received by the public at the time, that MassDOT made a commitment to not only keep the signs in place after Fast 14 was completed, but expanded the use of signs to other roadways as well. As a short term measure, temporary CMS panels were used for the new travel time signs until more permanent signs could be installed and activated.

The current statewide project involving the installation of permanent "hybrid" travel time signs (green guide sign with LED travel time components) is being undertaken because the new signs and equipment, which will be solar-powered, are more efficient to operate and easier to maintain than standard portable CMS panels. Further, once the new signs are in place and operational, the current portable CMS panels, most of which will be removed, will then exclusively be used only on a temporary basis, and only for construction work zones.

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