Q: Earlier this year, in discussing road signs at a construction zone on Broadway in South Whitehall Township, you wrote about ' … the four motorists I saw go straight across Broadway into the soccer complex at Cedar Creek Parkway West … making U-turns after seeing the 'no outlet ahead' sign … ' I was surprised you didn't mention that the 'no outlet ahead' sign is false. You certainly can continue driving on the road in the park, and it brings you out to Cedarbrook Road and West Walnut Street. What are the rules for false or misleading road signs?
— Walt Amante, South Whitehall Township
A: By the Warrior's Official Rule Book, any false or misleading road sign must be removed within a week of its existence being brought to the attention of the controlling state or municipal officials, Walt. Failure to abide by this regulation results in banishment from any and all ribbon-cutting or glad-handing events until the specified sign disappears.
That's the way it should be, anyway.
Regarding this sign in particular, Lehigh County General Services Director Glenn Solt defended its intended message, if not completely the manner in which that message is conveyed.
"It's not a public road," said Solt, who's surely done some ribbon-cutting in his time, having served nearly three full terms as Whitehall Township executive before joining the county in 2006. His current post is appointed, so he has nothing to fear from possible sanctions in the Warrior's Rule Book.
"You don't want to encourage people from taking a shortcut through a county park," Solt said. "I'm not sure if that's the reason [the sign] was put there," but it's likely, he said.
Solt didn't know exactly when the sign was posted; it probably predates his time with the county. But he has no real problem with it, so long as it dissuades people from cutting through the park. As you note, Walt, the road provides access to the athletic fields and other features of the park, but it also links Broadway with Cedarbrook Road. That portion of Broadway is busier than one might expect, as we found when South Whitehall Township closed it for a time this year for the installation of utility lines. A stream of traffic poured into the Warrior's email garage urging the township to improve the warning signs for the closure, and urging the township to expedite the work as much as possible.
I understand the desire to discourage unnecessary vehicle traffic within a county park, but it's not necessary to mislead motorists in the process. I told Solt they're basically lying to people. "I don't know that it's necessarily lying," he said, "because it's a private street." I suggested "no through street" as a better option, but Solt wasn't inclined to take the advice, saying my version would accomplish the same thing.
But there's a full-size reason the sign is no longer necessary, if it ever was: The speed bumps on that interior road are some of the worst in the region, punishing vehicle suspensions even at tricycle speeds. The beautiful county soccer complex was developed in 1994-95 with substantial grants and in-kind contributions from the Trexler Trust, Air Products, Army Corps of Engineers, Army Reserve and Pennsylvania National Guard — a tremendous community effort benefiting young soccer players from within and outside the region, but unfortunately, the ugly speed bumps went in at the same time, or shortly thereafter.
Solt defended the speed bumps, too. They should be replaced by smoother-riding but still sufficiently effective speed humps. Solt disagrees, but one thing's for sure: Anyone in their right mind who uses that road even once as a cut-through between Broadway and Cedarbrook Road will never do it again after climbing curb-like bump after bump after bump — all eight of them in a span of less than seven-tenths of a mile, including one that's unmarked (the rest are painted yellow).
Even if motorists considered venturing in there, much of the time the traffic and hubbub of the soccer matches or other activities would keep almost anyone but dedicated soccer families from proceeding. The chances of this qualifying as a shortcut after a drive-through equate to my Fiat 500's shot at surviving a high-speed head-on crash with a Hummer.
Whether on a public road or on private property to which public access is granted, all traffic signs should be as accurate as possible, and this one fails the test; it could be listed in one of Bill White's blooper columns. Look, this obviously isn't the biggest deal in the world, but that's all the more reason the error should be corrected: All it takes is a county worker with a wrench, a screwdriver, and maybe some penetrating oil to get the old bolts off. "No through street" is the right model.
Or better yet, just take a hacksaw to the sign pole and be done with it. There's no sign necessary here. But either way, "no outlet ahead" should be sent to the scrap yard.
Road Service: Regarding Friday's column on the Vehicle Code provision that bans the use of radar by municipal police, state police spokesman Adam Reed had been working to update the issue but could not get back to me by deadline. He called Friday to report that state police do, in fact, support allowing local police to use the technology. Reed cautioned that though they support the change in principle, state police do not necessarily back every provision in each proposed bill that would lift the radar ban. It's good to know the state cops are on board with this sensible proposal. The Pennsylvania Chiefs of Police Association also continues its strong, longtime support of radar for local officers, said President Thomas King, State College police chief.
Road Warrior appears Mondays and Fridays, and the Warrior blogs at mcall.com. Email questions about roadways, traffic and transportation, with your name and the municipality where you live, to firstname.lastname@example.org, or write to Road Warrior, Box 1260, Allentown, PA 18105-1260.