Thursday, October 13, 2011

How Do You Get an Unnecessary Street Sign Taken Down? NOT THIS WAY!

I had the pleasure of working with the local department of transportation over the last couple days concerning a pointless sign I pass every day as I leave my neighborhood. There's a "WEIGHT LIMIT 20 TONS" sign that can only be seen as you leave the neighborhood, but not as you enter the neighborhood.

Seeing on how I've lived on my street for over 15 years and there's never been a problem, I thought the removal of this sign would make sense, as it's clearly unnecessary. Removal of this sign would reduce the visual distractions along the side of the road and allow for easier mowing of the grass growing on the shoulder.

So I wrote this note to two county departments I thought would be helpful and agreeable to my request:

Original Message:
From: Kenny
Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2011 9:59 AM
To: Angel
Cc: Maria
Subject: Unnecessary, pointless street sign.

Dear sir or madam,

As you travel south on Maple Grove Drive behind Gander Mountain off of Route 3, there is a sign that says NO OUTLET after you pass Glazebrook Drive. If you turn around at the T-intersection at Hazel Court and exit the area, remaining on Maple Grove Drive, there's a sign after Raynold Court that says WEIGHT LIMIT 20 TONS.

I don't understand why this WEIGHT LIMIT 20 TONS sign is there.

There's no indication of a weight limit when you cross over the "bridge" from the other direction. Large moving trucks have helped move families into and out of this neighborhood for years. I don't think there is any danger here.

It seems pointless and unnecessary to have a WEIGHT LIMIT 20 TONS sign placed on the side of the road where you'd only be able to read it after you had crossed over the road section in the first place and were on your way back out.

For this reason, I humbly request that you remove this sign immediately.

Thank you so much,

Angel forwarded my message to Becky in another department. Here's her cover note to Becky:
From: Angel
Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2011 10:37 AM
To: Becky
Subject: FW: Unnecessary, pointless street sign.

This e-mail came to me. Not sure why… Maria works here, so I am sure she is hoping that I will forward to someone who can help. Who would handle this? VDOT? Thanks.

Becky must have sent it to Daniel, who sent it to Peter and cc:'d Angel and me:

From: Daniel

Sent: Wednesday, October 12, 2011 2:32 PM
To: Hedrich, Peter
Cc: kenny; Angel
Subject: RE: Unnecessary, pointless street sign.


Can you look into this issue and determine if another sign is required from the opposite direction or if the existing “WEIGHT LIMIT” sign should be removed. The only information I have on it, is that the bridge has a sufficiency rating of 72, is 19’ in length, and was built in 1977. I think the Virginia ID is 6115 if the info. I have is current.

Reply from Peter the VDOT Traffic Engineer to Daniel (who must be somebody's boss because the responses come from Peter and another engineer later on):

fromXxxx, Peter

toDaniel Xxxx
cc kenny,
"Xxxx, Rodney T."
dateThu, Oct 13, 2011 at 8:36 AM
subjectMissing bridge weight restriction sign Spotsy Maple Grove Drive
We have confirmed with bridge design that this sign should stay in place and we need to replace the sign in the opposite direction that is missing.

Rodney, could you please pass this on to your AHQ to have them reinstall the missing sign southbound for the structure described below? A picture of the missing sign is attached. Looks to be about 150 feet before the speed limit sign.


Peter xxxx, PE, PTOE
Area Traffic Engineer
Virginia Department of Transportation
87 Road
Fredericksburg, VA 22405
540-899-xxxx Desk 804-898-xxxx Cell

This wasn't exactly going where I hoped, because I didn't report any sign as missing, only the existing sign as pointless and unnecessary, so I swiftly replied to drive home my point:

to"xxxx, Peter"
Angel ,
"Xxxxx, Rodney T."
dateThu, Oct 13, 2011 at 9:07 AM

subjectRe: Missing bridge weight restriction sign Spotsy Maple Grove Drive

Mr. Peter,

Thank you for your swift response to my question. However, may be so bold as to kindly request the flat out removal of the current sign?

As it stands, there remains just the one way to enter my neighborhood on Maple Grove Drive. If an alert driver of an extremely heavy truck notices the "NO OUTLET" sign that's currently there, and heeds the warning about the weight limit (because of the sign you think is still necessary), there clearly would never be a time where an overweight truck would be past this bridge and need to come out over this bridge. Thus, there is no clear reason why a weight warning is needed on the way out on Maple Grove Drive.

Even if an overweight vehicle ignored the sign, it would completely destroy the bridge under its weight, so such a heavy vehicle still would never make it to the point where it would need to make a return trip over the bridge, and the current sign remains unnecessary.

Please reconsider your position to keep the pointless sign in place, as there is no reasonable way an overweight vehicle would ever be in the position where it would be driving in this direction. As I said before, and is clearly visible on the maps, Maple Grove Drive is the only way into and out of the neighborhood. If no overweight vehicles can cross over the bridge and get into the neighborhood, clearly no overweight vehicles would ever be actually in the neighborhood to come out, which they would not be able to do since the bridge has a weight limit, which they would have known as they crossed the bridge on the way into the neighborhood.

Thanks again for your attention to this matter.

Peter suddenly gets it and agrees with me and tried to get the pointless sign taken down:
from Peter

ccDaniel xxxx,
"Xxxx, Rodney T.",
"Xxxx, Thomas S., PE"
dateThu, Oct 13, 2011 at 9:18 AM

subjectRE: Missing bridge weight restriction sign Spotsy Maple Grove Drive

You make a good point. I have copied Thomas Xxxx of our bridge group to see if they would like to retain or remove the sign on the exit from Maple Grove since it is a no outlet condition.


Peter Xxxx, PE, PTOE
Response from Thomas the Assistant Bridge Engineer, who clearly has no sense of reality or reasonable sensibilities, and dumps a wet blanket on the whole thing:
from Xxxx, Thomas S., PE 

to"Xxxx, Peter",
ccDaniel Xxxx,
"Xxxx, Rodney T."
dateThu, Oct 13, 2011 at 11:00 AM
subjectRE: Missing bridge weight restriction sign Spotsy Maple Grove Drive

Virginia State Code Section 46.2-1130 requires load posting signs on both ends of the structure where the weight capacity is restricted. This sign layout is also addressed in Mobility Management Division memorandum MM-313 Signing for Weight Restrictions of Structures and in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. As an explanation with regards to signing the exit from a neighborhood with a single point of roadway access, please consider an empty truck coming into the neighborhood, loading up in excess of the posted load, and then exiting without the benefit of the required regulatory sign.

The Fredericksburg District Structure and Bridge Office forwarded a Bridge Signage Form to the Residency Administrator on October 6, 2011 to replace the missing weight limit sign on Str. No. 6115; Rte. 1115 (Maple Grove Drive) over 4 ft stream, Spotsylvania Co. This replacement requires immediate action if it is not already complete.

Virginia State Code Section 33.1-345 and Section 46.2-832 designate the unauthorized, willful damage or removal of a highway sign as a Class I misdemeanor. Please assist in providing for safe roadways by notifying the Spotsylvania County sheriff’s department or Virginia State Police if you observe anyone engaged in this activity.

Thank you for your assistance.

Thomas S. Xxxx, P. E.
Assistant District Structure and Bridge Engineer

Rodney the Sign Orderer's quick response (a mere nine minutes later! Rodney must have nothing better to do than wait for more signs to order!):

fromXxxx, Rodney T. 

to"Xxxx, Thomas S., PE",
"Xxxx, Peter" ,

dateThu, Oct 13, 2011 at 11:09 AM
subjectRe: Missing bridge weight restriction sign Spotsy Maple Grove Drive

Sign has been ordered thru the sign shop and will be installed when the sign is complete.


Rats! My effort to get a pointless and unnecessary sign taken down has resulted in not only the keeping of the current sign, but the ordering of another one to put up on the other side of the road!

Without thinking, I quickly write the following thank you note to all involved:

to"Thomas, PE"
Rodney T
dateThu, Oct 13, 2011 at 11:47 AM
subjectRe: Missing bridge weight restriction sign Spotsy Maple Grove Drive

Mr. Thomas,

Over the last fifteen years there have been dozens and dozens of houses built in this neighborhood without the benefit of the required regulatory sign.

Your explanation with regards to signing is inaccurate, however, as the sign that currently is there in fact only warns trucks that are exiting the neighborhood. An empty truck coming in and loading up with twenty tons of furniture would, and always has had, the benefit of this weight warning on the way out of the neighborhood.

To think that for over fifteen years, this culvert has daily been exposed to the possibility of catastrophic failure from overweight vehicles driving in without the benefit of a required regulatory sign that was never there!

Thank you for your swift attention and action to resolve this matter. I will sleep soundly knowing that my effort has not only uncovered a problem that hasn't existed, but thanks to all involved, taxpayer money will be spent to make sure a sign goes up to keep this from ever happening.

I am confident that the new weight limit sign will work just as well as all the posted speed limit signs to keep drivers well within the confines of the law.

Kind regards,

Kenny McKane
Moral of the story: If you see an unnecessary sign, take it down yourself because probably nobody will notice.
I sure as heck can't do that now, seeing on how Thomas the Assistant Bridge Engineer was kind enough to add the Virginia law that let me know that my removal of the unnecessary and pointless sign would be against the law, and that my effort to get it removed would immediately cause me to become the number one suspect if this or any nearby sign disappears in the future.


  1. Uh, I think the next time I visit VA, I'll take me home a 20 ton weight limit sign as a souvenir!

  2. Funny. I'm trying to get a yellow railroad crossing sign removed in Chula vista,Ca. You see, I'm a mechanic for a bus company called transdev here in Chula Vista. There is some railroad track on main st but it has all been removed recently except for where it crosses the road. That part of the track has been left intact but I don't know why. Recently a new trolley bridge was put up just above those tracks and I was hoping the company that built the bridge would remove the track and sign but fat chance of that happening. Oh yeah. There's a reason why I wanted that sign removed. As a bus mechanic, I reguarly road test city buses and main street is part of the road we use for our road test. We are also required to stop at those tracks and put on our hazard flashing lights and look both ways before proceeding acrosshirts the tracks. It's kinda nonsense since these tracks are no longer used and most of the track has been pulled out except for where it crosses the street. I hate having to stop at this crossing for no reason other than a silly old yellow crossing sign.