Bright new caution signs bring mixed emotions

Safety trumps historic design

By Lara Patangan
Resident Community News

When Telfair Stockton and Company laid out plans to build the San Marco Shopping Center in the 1920s fluorescent yellow pedestrian crossing signs were not the norm, however, due to recent renovations San Marco Square now has some 21st century glow.
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While some people have complained about the glaring signs in the otherwise muted historic shopping center, others contend they serve an important function.
“I think since it’s a new traffic pattern, it’s good to have something more bold – than something subtle,” said Reese Riggle, president of San Marco Preservation Society. “I don’t mind that they are nice and bright.”

The signs in San Marco are standard Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), a national system used by cities throughout the country to implement uniform signs to ensure consistency when people travel. According to Doug Skiles, president of EnVision Design + Engineering who was heavily involved in the renovation of the Square, “there isn’t much flexibility for local governments to deviate from these standards in high traffic areas without special legislation.”

Debbie Delgado, Public Communications Officer with the City of Jacksonville, said the signs provide a safe environment for pedestrians and motorists which are important because of San Marco Square’s high traffic volume in addition to the new traffic pattern.

“The general goal of the San Marco Boulevard Streetscape Project, which includes the addition of two roundabouts, was to promote traffic calming and create a pedestrian-friendly atmosphere,” Delgado explained. “For this reason the City installed the enhanced and required signage following MUTCD guidelines.”

Desiree Bailey, a board member of the San Marco Merchant’s Association who runs the San Marco Bookstore understands the relevance of uniformity standards.
“The SMMA is pleased that attention is being drawn to the crosswalks in San Marco. We also understand that the uniformity of the signs is mandated by the state,” said Bailey. “However, in the future, the SMMA hopes to look into finding more historically relevant crosswalk signs.”

Meanwhile, the glowing pedestrian signs are serving their purpose.

“My personal experience with them is that while I agree they may not be the most attractive, they definitely work,” Skiles said. “I cross the street in the Square several times a day, and find that most drivers stop for me to cross the street. Before this project was completed it was like playing a game of Frogger.”

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