State brightens up Merritt with new signs
For many signs along the Merritt Parkway, the glow is gone.
Years of standing outside exposed to the elements have rendered some overhead and side-mounted signs muted and barely legible at night.
That’s because the typical lifespan for many such roadside notices is 17 years, according to Kevin Nursick, spokesperson for the state Department of Transportation. That’s the age, generally, when a sign’s retroreflectivity, or ability to shine light back toward a source, has faded away. With less reflectivity, signs become hard to read or illegible at night, even if they are clear in daylight.
The state’s latest project to replace signs on the Merritt Parkway comes with a $4.25 million price tag and will focus on replacing signs that were last installed in 1997 using a different technique for fastening them to supports. On many signs, the supports have been failing for the last few years, according to information from the state. The project encompasses roughly 40 miles of the Merritt, from the Connecticut/New York border all the way to Milford.
“The scope of the project involves the replacement of only those signs that have exceeded their useful service life,” reads the description of the project.
Along the Merritt, the state will replace 571 sheet aluminum signs such as speed limit signs, stop signs and curve warning signs, and 124 extruded aluminum signs, which are the large green highway signs.
The work also includes the replacement of five existing “variable message signs,” digital boards in which text can be added and modified.
Concurrently, a sign-replacement project on Route 8 will accomplish the same thing, along a 30-mile stretch from Bridgeport to Waterbury, and will cost $10.6 million.
That project will replace 2,360 sheet aluminum signs and 357 extruded aluminum signs last installed in the late 1980s.
Wes Haynes, executive director of the Merritt Parkway Conservancy, is happy to see the signs being replaced, especially since they will maintain the jagged-edge design characteristic of the roadway.
While many people have a love for the old wooden signs that used to adorn the highway in the past, Haynes said the newer models are much easier to maintain.
He isn’t a fan of the variable message signs, however, even if he understands that the state must use them in construction zones.
“When you go through a construction zone, you’re out of the parkway mood anyway,” said Haynes, describing why the signs aren’t as visually intrusive to him as they would be in other parts of the highway.
Once the new signs are up, Haynes said the parkway experience will be enhanced.
“Everybody loves the finished product,” he said. “It puts you back in the magic of the parkway.”