And they wonder why driving around here makes us all insane
Melissa the roving UHub photographer came upon some peak Massachusetts road signage this morning on McGrath Highway, just before Lechmere in Cambridge.
For people who are familiar with the road, of course, they know that you can't turn right at the very next intersection, because it's a one-way road coming onto McGrath and the "Right Lane MUST Turn Right" sign refers to the lane for the next intersection that comes up right after that one, but for people who have don't spend every last minute driving up and down the road, you can only sigh and wonder what some Cambridge or MassDOT sign hanger upper was thinking.
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It's not one of those old "RIGHT LANE FOR RIGHT TURN" signs which seemed to be peculiar to Mass.
Oh, and I know it's a nit-pick, but it's the O'Brien Highway in Cambridge
Others in that series
Wait for green light
Do not drive in breakdown lane
Wait for Green Light
and Do Not Drive (or Travel Prohibited) in Breakdown Lane signs, as silly as the messages may seem, actually have legitimate purposes.
Wait for Green Light is often used at intersections where one approach will get the green light before the other one. When this practice of "advanced green" was first adopted, it was observed that traffic on the delayed approach would start into the intersection before their light had turned green, because they would see traffic on the other approach start up and think they also had the green light. These signs are less prevalent these days as "advanced/delayed green" signal phasing is less common than it was in the 1960s and 1970s.
Do Not Travel (Travel Prohibited) In Breakdown Lane signs are normally placed just after the end of highway segments where the breakdown lane can be used for travel during peak hours, such as on I-93 between Wilmington and Methuen.
MA was the only state with advanced greens?
Or the only state where people had to be told not to run a red light?
Or a state where drivers never had to pass an actual rules test.
Still boggles the mind
I don't know about you, but my driving exam covered things like not running red lights and not using the breakdown lane as the default state of driving.
I kind of get the breakdown lane thing - but it seems odd that people had to be told not to run a red light. Kind of sad, actually.
At that point, retesting drivers is in order, not signs saying "wait for green light".
"Straight on Green Only"
"Straight on Green Only"
(Do not treat this 5-degree angle as a "right turn on red").
its takes too much energy to
its takes too much energy for me to think which ones which so i just refer to it as the mcgrath-o'brian.
McGrath in Somerville, O’Brien in Cambridge
(With an “e”)
A long ago Globe explainer.
Of course, the Somerville/Cambridge border is somewhere under the road following the course of the old Millers River, and the Boston/Cambridge border is in the middle of what used to be the river before the dam was built in 1910, but I’m not sure the O’Brien designation extends past the Land Blvd-Gilmore/Prison Point Bridge, or if the Craigie Bridge begins there.
That area rivals the Fenway-Riverway-JWay-Arborway (all the same road) for confusing Boston road names.
tl;dr yeah McGrath-O’Brien is probably fine.
Two additional signs should fix this...
1. Under the No Right Turn sign, attach to the bottom of it, a new sign: "NEXT RIGHT".
2. Under the Right Lane MUST Turn Right sign, attach to the bottom of that, a new sign: "AT NEXT TRAFFIC LIGHT".
Might seem onerous, but this would clear up any confusion.
Good enough job for
some legislator's otherwise unemployable cousin/brother/nephew.
it actually makes sense
it actually makes sense, but you have to leave there. (i'm two block away)
the no right turn sign is the older sign: no turn onto gore street (the first street seen: it's a one way onto mcgrath).
The right turn only is new: only a few weeks. You have to turn right onto 3rd street (the street at the light.) You used to be allowed to go straight or turn at third: now you're only supposed to turn at third in the right lane.
... somebody with a truck pulled up, took the right turn only sign out, checked his or her paperwork, said to him or herself, "I don't really give a fuck about the quality of my work product," and went ahead and installed the sign anyhow, even though it clearly contradicts the other sign on the same post.
DEFENDING THE SIGNAGE
These 2 signs are OK. They are on the R side of O'Brien Highway as traffic is approaching a R turn onto Third St. Winter Street is a one way road coming out to the highway just a few feet before Third St. It is a one way street with traffic only allowed to travel towards O'Brien Highway. The picture and comments give the impression that someone screwed up. Not so! The signs are OK in my opinion.
Don't defend the indefensible
Is traffic in the right lane required to turn right? Then why is there a "no right turn" sign?
Is traffic in the right lane forbidden from turning right? Then why is there a "right lane must turn right" sign.
If the signs apply to two different intersections, then why are they on the same post?
the two intersections are right on top of each other, and there's no room for a post between them. They could have put up signs saying "NO IMMEDIATE RIGHT TURN" and "RIGHT LANE MUST EVENTUALLY TURN RIGHT", but they must have been out of those.
and the thick trees
I know trees are awesome. But the tree canopy is also blocking any road-signs on the first turn (probably a one-way pointing left?) the street sign if there is one, the bus-stop, and it's almost blocking the red-light.
It's Brand New, Even
They only recently changed that right lane to be a right turn only (even though the lane still continues straight ahead), so this weirdly already beat up looking RIGHT LANE MUST TURN RIGHT sign was just hung up under the no right turn sign a few weeks ago. So this intersection now manages to confuse new people with conflicting signs and people who used to drive here regularly. Double nailed it.
Those signs perfectly explains
Those signs perfectly describe Massachusetts politics.
If you can’t figure this one
If you can’t figure this one out then maybe you should turn in your driver’s license.
Road signs are not logic puzzles
We all know, sitting in our armchairs pondering the picture, what the signs mean. You can't turn right onto the closer street. And, half a block later, if you're in the right lane, you must turn right.
That's not really the point.
What happens with a driver unfamiliar with the area, at night, in the rain, coming up to this intersection?
He's eaten by wolves.
He's eaten by wolves.
You win the Internet
One of the best comment responses ever. My only regret is that I have but one "thumbs up" point to give you.
still my favorite:
Comments to this story reveal headline is 100%.
It really is scary.
I took the photo.
It's been a few years since i was in that area. I froze when I first saw the sign, with lots of rush hour traffic honking behind me, because most "right turn only" lanes do not give you any other option, and I wondered if I was about to drive straight ahead onto some embankment or spikes.
I would hate to have to ask for directions from some of you: "yes, just take a left where the diner used to be."
I prefer to use the future tense, like the guy in Laurie Anderson's Big Science:
Hey Pal! How do I get to town from here?
And he said: Well just take a right where
they're going to build that new shopping mall,
go straight past where they're going to put in the freeway,
take a left at what's going to be the new sports center,
and keep going until you hit the place where
they're thinking of building that drive-in bank.
You can't miss it. And I said: This must be the place.
One of my favorites
I wish I had taken a picture of a sIgn I saw at an entrance to a local gas station. It has since been changed.
DO NOT ENTER
Newtonville, a few years ago:
There was an ordinary STOP sign.
On the same post, directly below, a parking regulation sign that read "NO STOPPING".
(Sadly it was in the pre-smartphone era, and by the time I returned with a camera they had removed the lower one.)
Not far from here
Just a bit further along the McGrath / O'Brien Highway [M-O] DOT is removing a travel / turning lane to enhance the safety of bicyclists -- a noble intention
We've been assured that by removing a lane from a stretch of the M-O Highway in front of the Museum of Science that there will be no additional traffic jams
How do we know this to be true == why "they" have run a computer simulation of the traffic flows and reducing the number of lanes doesn't cause any disruptions
That's the true and much more serious side of Screwed-up Traffic Engineering
and of course once the Militant Bicyclist Lobby is appeased and the travel / turning lane is gone -- there can be no reversion to the present configuration no matter how badly screwed up the traffic is in front of the MOS
Better of course would be to provide the bicyclists with a lane and still allow the cars to have their existing already road capacity limited situation -- but the total width of the street and sidewalk is limited by the bridge over the Charles at the Dam and the front of the MOS parking garage so that's a non-starter
This being greater Boston...
... heaven forfend that someone would have, you know, picked up a book or browsed a website and looked up the national standards for traffic signage for complex intersections, because obviously we're completely unique here and nobody has ever encountered this exact situation in another state or at the national level or given it any thought.
I'm no traffic engineer, so I'm sure this is not at all MUTCD compliant, but it might look sorta like this...
My dad worked in this area in another state
Massachusetts drove him absolutely bonkers. Right turn arrows that didn't come with right of way. Wait for Green Light. Right turn Permitted Without Stopping and gratuitous no right on red everywhere.
Of all of them, "Dangerous Intersection" was his absolute favorite - he took pictures of them for the legal team back home. In their world, this wasn't a warning but an admission of guilt.
(of course the State Safety Rest Area and State Liquor Store signs were his all-time favorite, if a one-off occurrence)
Here, we say this:
"Who the eff needs a street sign? Everybody knows that's Mass Ave, amirite?"
"Who the eff needs a "road closed weekends" sign. Everybody knows you can only take that turn on weekdays when the gate at the other end of the block is open. Jeezus, it's been that way for years. People effin stupid or what?"
You left out my all-time fave
You have a leftward pointing green arrow, which, with charmingly innocent, albeit misplaced, trust in the world, you assume means you have a protected turn, so you turn left across oncoming traffic, who, surprise, had a solid green.