Need Signs? Mission Improbable
By L.A. McMahon
From Issue 41: Winter 2019
My mission—if I chose to accept it—was to find out how a Gardiner resident gets a blind driveway, deaf child, school bus stop, or other caution sign placed on a local road. You’d think it would be a simple thing for a New York State taxpayer to apply for the installation of a “special” sign to prevent a tragedy concerning a special needs person. “Definitely not rocket science,” I thought, so I accepted the mission.
After three hours of research on Ulster County and State of New York websites, I came up empty, with absolutely no clue as to how to reach an actual human being for assistance. However, not being a quitter (nor too bright), and being somewhat irate at how difficult government entities make things, I kept digging.
First, I felt the need to describe exactly what I was looking for, and in the Traffic Sign Handbook for Local Roads, 3rd Edition (Revised: March 2010) I found examples of signs and their uses.
“W11-9” and “W16-7p” signs provide advance warning of crossing locations regularly used by handicapped persons. The signs assume deceleration to an advisory speed of 0 mph (that is, stopped) when a handicapped person is present, and should be placed at or immediately in advance of the crossing location.
The “NYW7-6” and “NYW7-7” signs are used to warn motorists to be especially alert for a child under the age of 18 who may be either unable to hear normal traffic sounds, or unable to see approaching traffic. These signs also assume deceleration to 0 mph, and should be located in advance of the locations for which warning is considered necessary.
Both signs require the consent of the child’s parent or legal guardian, and the authority having jurisdiction is supposed to stay informed about the residences, the areas of activity, and the ages of the children involved, so that signs can be promptly removed when they are no longer needed.
So, now I knew about the signs, but was still no closer to figuring out how to apply for them. Finally, on my 5th phone call to various agency phone numbers I thought had some relevance, I spoke with a nice guy at the Ulster County Highway Department who promised “to get back to me,” and on the NYS Department of Transportation website, I found Public Information Officer Heather Pillsworth, the person to call on matters related to “Media and General Inquiries.”
I’m media, right? I write for THE GARDINER GAZETTE! So I called, and she was LOVELY, a real oasis in the desert. I briefly described my mission, and she decided to join the Mission Improbable team.
In the next issue of The Gazette, look for the exciting resolution. (Although we now have a savvy ally, it’s still gonna take a while—it’s New York State, after all.)