Rhode Island City Plans to Leave 600 Rogue Stop Signs Standing

At some point in recent years, a ghost in the urban planning machine put up 700 rogue stop signs in Cranston, Rhode Island, (pop. 80,000; stop sign pop. 2,600). They're totally undocumented, and the city can't figure out where exactly they came from. But after an investigation by a specially appointed committee, they're planning to leave 580 of 'em right where they are.

The city caught wind of the mystery signs last year, and a six month effort to map them out found that 652 of Cranston's stop signs—nearly 25%—were put up illegally. Some, they found, had been there for decades. The city said they thought the Department of Transportation was responsible for about a third of the signs, but that still left some 500 unaccounted for. They really didn't know what the hell was going on. All the while, judges had started to dismiss tickets written for running stop signs. You know, because they didn't know which ones were actual, legal stop signs.

So what to do? Well, today a city committee is meeting to consider an ordinance that would make 587 of the "undocumented stop signs"—that's the official terminology for them—official. Seven mystery yield signs that will pass into the realm of the legitimate along with them. 21 stop signs and two yield signs, deemed unnecessary, would be removed.

How do they figure? As Lowering the Bar explains, they conducted a serious traffic investigation :

A similar ordinance was proposed last June, but the city council rejected it 5-4, with the majority saying it was not willing to authorize the signs in bulk without gathering further information. Three city workers were then assigned to drive around and look at 2,595 signs and checking each one against a map to determine which were the 1,903 that had been officially approved. The mayor's office presented its report in November. Assuming the three sign-checkers started this project in July and finished at the end of October, that's about seven signs per day per person. It's tempting to say that this is not a very impressive rate, but I imagine they were all going a little crazy by sign number two-thousand...

Next time I get harangued for a rolling stop, police officers, I'm going to need to see that stop sign's papers. [Lowering the Bar via BoingBoing]

Photo credit: Mike Webkist