Thursday, November 03, 2005

Bad Sign(age)

--I fully admit up front that this post is prompted by an editorial in today's Belleville News-Democrat. Rarely do I find something that makes me jump up and say "I've been thinking the same thing", but today's writing was different.

The editorial--"While We Wait for a New Bridge" could not have been more right on. It speaks to the poorly thought out and ineffective signage on the Poplar Street Bridge...officially the Bernard F. Dickman Bridge...spanning the Mississippi by the Arch. This overused mess of a thoroughfare is the primary access for Illinoisans to Missouri...and Missourians to Southern Illinois. And folks from everywhere travel 3 major interstate highways across the water there too.

While a group of esteemed leaders from both states engage in a pissing contest over funding of a new bridge, the Poplar Street is congested and confusing. One of these days there will be a deadly accident that will call attention to just how confusing it is...particularly for out-of-towners. I'm sure, if you use the Poplar on a regular basis, you've been involved in the mad, lane-changing scramble that occurs as soon as all the entrance ramps from Illinois converge into the five, side-by-side lanes that carry all of the traffic across the river. That scramble would be lessened considerably if drivers knew what lane would be most appropriate for them to be in before they reached the bridge.

Often, a driver will not know what lane gets him to where he's going until he's actually on the bridge deck and a short way from an exit ramp. Then, after seeing the sign he's looking for, he has to slam on the brakes...or at least slow down drastically...in an effort to cross a couple of lanes of traffic to get to the appropriate lane. I don't cross the bridge every day, but I still have been in enough "near miss" situations to consider myself lucky not to have had a major accident on the freakin' thing. And that's mostly because you can see other drivers losing their cool when they realize they have a lot of lane changing to do in a short amount of space. It's hard to believe that they (IDOT, MODOT or both) couldn't come up with a better plan for signs.

And that exit ramp that carries 55/44 off the bridge on the Missouri side is an absolute joke. How some engineer thought that the volume of traffic that goes down that ramp could be adequately handled by a single-lane, 90-degree turn at the end of the bridge on the Missouri side is beyond me. You would think a first-grader could have come up with a better idea.

Kinda makes you wonder how effective a new bridge would be if similar engineering expertise will be put into that planning. And we've already downgraded the budget for that project to less than half of the original plan. Should be interesting.

In the meantime, somebody fix the current Poplar Street mess before some foggy morning when a tangle of cars and trucks winds up in the river.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

putting to waste some good money that could have been used in other areas of development for the business involved.

William R. Fink said...

Tom,

I just came across your blog and saw your remarks about the bridge. You are 100% right-on-the-money!! The PSB is a joke and so is the mess surrounding the new bridge. You should have submitted your comments to the BND.

--Bill