Some Sign and Signal Fails

September 9, 2016 at 3:33 am | Posted in Traffic Signals | Leave a comment
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Here’s some Sign and Signal Fails (as well as some that are simply unusual) from around the state.

Upside Down Traffic Signal Warning Signs

Irish Traffic Signals?

I can understand getting one sign upside down (well, no I can’t, but whatever, but three of them in the same area? These were when US 212 was being built around Prairie Center Drive.


Is this Hamline Ave or Hamline Ave?

No question what the name of this street is.


Walk or Wait

These signals are sending a mixed message. Likely the one on the right got twisted into the wrong direction by a snowplow


Surplus 61 Shields

When US 61 became MN 61 they missed a couple in out of the way locations; these were years after the change.  I believe these have finally been replaced.


A little late

This sign was made decades after US 61 had been removed from this road, I guess the locals still call it “Old 61”


In Wisconsin…

These have all been replaced with real MN route markers.


Sloppy Contractor Work


Some Interesting shields


Signs mounted funny to alter their intended meaning


Another contractor innovation. Photo by Andrew Filer


Wisconsin and US markers are so similar that screw-ups are almost non-notable

Is it a Ball or an Arrow?


Elm Creek Blvd and County 81

Not a fail, but interesting. This intersection of County 81 and Elm Creek Boulevard doesn’t seem to be particularly interesting, but look closer when the light turns green. Then move closer.

The green ball magically changes to an up arrow! 3M, in addition to common balls and arrows and much less common pedestrian lenses, had all kinds of special contraptions for use in their Model 131 programmable visibility signals. One of these was a bimodal indication that would show a ball from a distance and and an arrow up close.

The reason for this is that balls are much easier to see from a distance. Once drivers approach the intersection, however, it changes to an arrow to direct the driver where to go. At County 81 and Elm Creek Blvd., the eastbound and westbound lanes are widely separated by MN 610. What you have is a one way with 70 mph traffic in a place you wouldn’t expect one. Using only left and up arrows reinforces the point that you are absolutely not supposed to turn right.

Like most of 3M’s odd stuff, these bimodal indications are extremely rare. Only one is known to exist in a private collection and only a couple are known to exist on the street. Here’s a video of what you see as you approach, in a car the transition would be much faster.

A Danger to Pedestrians

At the same signal, facing the other way is a problem.  Ten points to whoever can instantly see what is wrong with this:

Traffic Signal at Elm Creek Blvd and County 81

Elm Creek Blvd and County 81

Although this configuration is allowed by the Minnesota MUTCD 4D.4 #2 and #4, (which states that pedestrians may enter against a green arrow when indicated and drivers following an arrow must yield to pedestrians lawfully in the intersection) that doesn’t mean this is a good idea. Most drivers and pedestrians aren’t in the habit of reading obscure sections of the MUTCD or state statutes for exceptions to normal rules, and on the surface this signal is telling both motorists and pedestrians simultaneously they have the right of way.

As for fixing it, one option is to just replace it with a standard green ball, and lose the extra feedback the signals provide to keep drivers from turning in the wrong direction. Probably a better option is a flashing yellow arrow right turn signal, that would give a green arrow under normal conditions, and a flashing yellow arrow during a pedestrian phase (this light was installed before this option existed). Although a red ball mated to a flashing yellow arrow is an illegal configuration, state law allows a placement of a sign allowing turns on red arrows after a stop, so that’s what I’d do here.

Since this intersection operates in split phase, there is nothing wrong with the 3M arrows facing north since the west crosswalk will never have a walk while northbound traffic has a green.



For want of an unrusted bolt, this this signal failed.

Collapsed Traffic Signal

Signal Fail

Signal Fail

More subtly, do you see anything wrong with the black signal on the right?


Silver Bell Road and Cedar Grove Blvd, Eagan

How about now…

Yes, this picture is right-side up. The

Yes, this picture is right-side up. The “dive-bombing” Eagle logo

This was a mistake during an entire production run. The companies official line is “China sent us a bad mold but the signals themselves are as usual, the highest quality”. Now that Siemens has spun off its traffic signal head business to Brown Traffic, they plan to replace the Eagle “thunderbird” logo (which somehow never got removed from these during the entire time Siemens owned it), with their new Eagle logo.

Looks like someone is going to lose a game of “3M Jenga”.

Signal Fail at 46th St. and 46th Ave, Minneapolis

Signal Fail at 46th St. and 46th Ave, Minneapolis

Old brittle poly signals + wind


Signal Fail at W Lake Street and Thomas Ave, Minneapolis

Signal Fail at W Lake Street and Thomas Ave, Minneapolis




The space between the jersey barriers is a temporary pedestrian crossing. Note the “No Crossing” signs that weren’t removed.


This one’s kind of subtle. Remember a bicycle is a vehicle


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