Hurrying to Mercy Regional Medical Center, we took the Bridge to Nowhere to avoid the Three Springs stoplight. After crossing the bridge, we came upon the Roundabout to Everywhere. The sign informs you of many destinations. Yet the only hint of how to get to the hospital is tiny blue “H” that’s six times smaller than the County Road 232 symbol. Not to be disrespectful, but isn’t the emergency room far more important than County Road 232 or directions to Bayfield? – Feeling Much Better Now
It had been a couple years since Action Line checked out the general nothingness of the greater Bridge to Nowhere metroplex.
So a Saturday morning reconnaissance mission was organized, with Mrs. Action Line in the driver’s seat.
Mrs. Action Line is an attentive driver, but she’ll be the first to admit to not having a keen sense of direction.
That’s why traffic signs are so important.
You can imagine the confusion when encountering the Roundabout to Everywhere for the first time.
Maneuvers included a full-on U-turn across the on ramp, a total stop to figure out how to yield and a turn south in order to get to a northbound lane.
“Well then,” Mrs. Action Line exclaimed with grace and aplomb. “That was less than amusing. At least we now know what to expect.”
So take it from Mrs. Action Line.
If you are thinking of using Wilson Gulch Road as a shortcut, pre-drive the Roundabout to Everywhere to figure out how to get somewhere.
Why does Mercy, the area’s biggest destination, have the smallest sign?
In other words, what the H is up with the tiny H?
Road signs come under the purview of the Colorado Department of Transportation, so that gave us a chance to call our good friend Lisa Schwantes, ace spokeswoman.
As a bonus, Lisa had her colleague Julie Constan, the region’s traffic program engineer, conferenced in on the call.
Lisa connected the DOTs for us.
“All DOTs across the country must comply with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices,” Lisa said.
It’s the steadfast rulebook from Federal Highway Administration, so it’s a big deal. It dictates and unifies all of the traffic signs nationwide.
“If we did not have this standard, any state, town or community could do their own funky road signs and you would not know what to expect from town to town,” Julie added.
Lisa compared a world of non-standard traffic signs to being in a surreal, nonsensical Dr. Seuss landscape.
“It would be really crazy out there,” she said.
Speaking of crazy, allow Action Line to channel his inner Theodor Geisel:
What could we do for a hospital sign?
We need one much bigger, say 9 feet by 9.
Consider the drivers all driving about.
The ER’s location should not be in doubt.
We don’t need directions to Wilson Gulch Road,
Our signs can be certain while keeping in code.
Julie will take a look at reworking the sign to be more helpful but still in compliance with the federal Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices.
That’s a roundabout way of saying we’ll cross that bridge when we get there.
Email questions to firstname.lastname@example.org or mail them to Action Line, The Durango Herald, 1275 Main Ave., Durango, CO 80301. You can request anonymity if you’re still missing the hour of sleep you lost yesterday.