Local News

New Highway Markers Grab Motorists' Attention In More Ways Than One

Posted January 22, 2003 10:24 a.m. EST

— Many people who drive the state's roads and highways seem to have the same complaint: There are a lot more road needs than road funds in North Carolina.

Now, taxpayers have questioned an effort by the Department of Transportation to put up signs - and


of them - on I-540.

The signs started popping up a month ago. The signs tell motorists where they are every two-tenths of a mile.

That's right; every


of a mile.

DOT officials have claimed the signs are a safety feature. The cost to taxpayers is $1,000 per mile.

"I don't think our tax money ought to go for every two tenths of a mile," local motorist Mike Glover said. "One mile, I agree with, for people who don't know this part of the country, if they break down.

"But two tenths of a mile? I think that's a little ridiculous. I really do."

DOT officials said they have received only one complaint, adding that the cost of the signs is justified.

The long stretches of median barrier on I-540 block crossovers by emergency vehicles, and the state claims an exact location can be a lifesaver.

If someone is driving down the interstate, gets in a wreck, gets disoriented and confused, that person will call 911 but might not know his or her exact location. With the new signs, the person knows: "I-540 East, at mile marker 5.6."

Sgt. Wade Bulloch of the State Highway Patrol said the new signs may save troopers time as they hurry to an accident or stranded motorist.

"When people are injured, seconds do count," Bulluch said, "and the quicker we can get assistance out there to somebody, the quicker we can save someone's life."

Some taxpayers have said fewer signs and lower cost would make more sense. The DOT responded by claiming that, if one life is saved, the signs will pay for themselves.

Furthermore, DOT officials said they would like to see directional signs every two-tenths of a mile on the Raleigh Beltline as well. But they add that, at this point, the funds are not available.