Reader: Traffic signs conflict with historic business district


Clutter in the historic business district seems to know no bounds when it comes to traffic control signage. I speak specifically of the River and Maple streets intersection. The riot of visual conflict nested in the historic background seems to be most prolific and incongruous while north bound on Maple Street.

The alternative is simple, effective and hiding in plain sight.

Any consideration of the historic environment is absent. The current signs are either in front of or mounted directly on the decorative posts. One of the signs is approximately 18 feet above the sidewalk. Supposedly, it is an eye level sign for motorists coming down Maple Street hill.

The coup de grace, however, is the twin, four square feet of “do not enter” signs at each corner of River Street, and of course, mounted directly in front of masonry pillars mounting decorative lampposts.

Now dear reader, with this proliferation of signage it is obvious the city considers this intersection a serious threat to life and limb. One would expect at least one past incident of twisted steel and broken bones with blood and bile running in the gutter. None come to mind.

I have, however, seen “wrong way Charley’s” on their misguided way down the street. Interestingly, traffic immediately goes into slow-mo. The awareness of local motorists instantly spikes and caution ensues all-round. Funny how humans tend to problem solve when left to their own devices.

Tourist Charley (or Charlene) readily gets it. His face indicates he is experiencing the taste of humiliation, and he makes an exit at his earliest opportunity. We by-standers smile in appreciation for receiving our “jollys” for the day. No harm, only sight foul.

The sum and substance of this signage exercise exhibits to visitor and resident alike the city’s lack of poetry in its soul … the absence of grace in its actions … the aesthetic insensitivity to Manistee’s brand … and its expert marksmanship in delivering a direct shot to its economic development foot.

Nincompoopery of this sort often germinates when there is a constituency to impress. When done in the name of public safety, it scores the highest points. The constituents feel cradled in the bosom of government and the nincompooper(s) assumes a badge of visionary problem solver.

So what is the breathtaking elegance and cosmic simplicity to resolving all that is wrong at the corner of Maple and River? How can the city exhibit a poetic soul, show grace in its actions, display belief in the Manistee brand and understand the ingredients of economic development?

It can mount two one-way signs … one for northbound, one for southbound … to the bottom of the traffic signal, the one place every motorist’s eye goes when approaching a signaled intersection … and remove a total of nine ugly, redundant, ineffective signs. Surely, the city’s longest ladder is not too short for the job.

While remaining steeled against misplaced optimism, we are hopeful for resolution.

Dennis terHorst


One comment on “Reader: Traffic signs conflict with historic business district

  1. avatarphoebe506

    Dennis is correct, ee do need at least one sign attsched to thr ttaffic signal light northbound at thwt intesectinl One is is for sttraight, ther other is for left turn only I have berrn cut off a couporl of times this summer by Charly tourist in the turn oane who went straight;.. I had no where to go but to stop and let him go.
    the arros on the pavement are nt visible if another car is stopped for thr light in that lane Charley has no weay of knowing that is a left turn only.

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