05 October 2010

[Address_Nerd] Clearview Takes Manhattan

The next chapter in the slow invasion of Clearview onto street blades and directional signs everywhere unfolds in New York City, where word has been placed into the universe of discourse that they are preparing to spend $27.6 million to replace all city street blades, working out to about $110 per blade.

Sadly, reporting on the issue seems to harp on the cost. While it's not unremarkable, that's only half the story. Since introducing Clearview and making it the FHWA-approved standard for signs all over, in this lean budgetary climate naturally states and appropriate jurisdictions have complained about the extra cost.

Street blades don't come for free, of course.

Sadly, most reporting on it is a more coarse version of this article at The Consumerist, which does a disservice by not devoting just a few extra lines for some needed clarity. The New York Post, a news organ that I've learned to take with a huge grain of salt, does unexpected justice at this article by providing that clarity.

While it's true that $27.6 million is, perhaps tautologically put, a hell of a lot of money to spend on anything, it's not outlandish when it's pointed out that the signs will be replaced over an eight-year period at a rate (11,000/year) not unreasonably more than that of normal wear and tear anyway (8,000/year). The evolution seems most wise.

What I will take issue with is the sign formatting. While the traditional NYC street blade format - with the specific spanning the sign's height and the generic baseline-shifted up to align with the top of the big letters - works well with the old letterforms, it seems sort of awkward with Clearview letterforms.

I'd suggest a redesign, and humbly offer my services to the city of New York City.

(thanks to fellow Address Nerd Ben Lukoff for pointing this out)

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