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Signs Should Help Us, Not Confuse Us

Signs Should Help Us, Not Confuse Us
Issue Time:2017-08-11

Signs Should Help Us, Not Confuse Us

In St. Paul Minnesota, it seems like everyone has a street with their name on it. While these honorary street names are a great way to recognize significant local figures, the streets in St. Paul have also retained their official street names.  The result is a sign post containing multiple street name signs.  Sometimes it’s two signs pointing in the direction of one street.  Other times there are three signs for the street.  Every time, there is confusion. This street name overload has led to a running joke that if you haven’t lived in the city for more than 50 years, you get lost trying to find your way around.


It’s a problem that city councilwoman Rebecca Noecker has been trying to find a solution to.  At a recent city council study session, council president Russ Stark wondered if all of the honorary street name signs were actually a safety hazard.  What if someone calling for help during an emergency gave the wrong (honorary) street name to first responders?  It’s an important question and it got the council to start considering other options for honoring people from the community.  Thanks to Rebecca, they are now looking into a permanent renaming of certain streets as a way to honor significant people instead of adding another sign with their name on it.

The Federal Highway Administration has gone through tremendous efforts to come up with designs, sizes, and rules for traffic signs to make sure they can be read and understood quickly so that drivers can keep their eyes on the road.  Although the idea of adding an honorary sign is noble, it can cause confusion among drivers foreign to the area, and even worse, it can cause accidents because drivers need to spend more time reading all of the signs to make sure that’s the street they’re looking for.