CHICAGO (CBS) — Chicago has its fair share of one-way streets. Signs tell drivers which direction to go, and not to go. Trouble is, some of those signs fail and provide little help; or worse, they give potentially dangerous guidance.
Bright and bold LED signs are great when they work, but when those little lights that make up a sign fail, watch out.
From Fulton Market to the South Loop to Bridgeport, many “no right turn” and “no left turn” signs in Chicago are not working properly, leaving drivers puzzled at what they’re supposed to mean.
At some intersections, like Taylor and Clinton, “do not enter” signs supplement the “no left turn” sign, but on a one-way stretch of Wentworth, a “no left turn” sign is virtually worthless to drivers with the lights not working properly, and no other sign to indicate whether turns are allowed.
The greatest concentration of bad signs CBS 2 found was along Lake Street just west of the Loop.
“That is not a traffic symbol. It’s maybe a piece of art, but not a traffic symbol,” one man said of the broken sign, which shows only half of a red circle and diagonal line, but no arrow or other symbol.
Other signs on Lake Street are partially burned out of both colors, while others show only the arrow, appearing to show drivers they can turn right, even though it’s a one-way street in the other direction.
“That could cause an accident, I would think. It should probably be fixed,” one man said.
A Chicago Department of Transportation first deputy commissioner Tom Carney said the malfunctioning signs “could be a power issue.”
“A traffic signal outage could be caused by any number of reasons, from a power issue to an issue in the control box. There’s water infiltration,” he said.
The LED no turn signs can cost about $3,000 each, not including labor costs. That’s some 10 times more than traditional painted metal signs.
“Anytime a traffic signal is identified as out, that’s an immediate safety issue,” Carney said.
CDOT counts on drivers and city workers to report issues with signs.
“We rely on 311, but we also rely on sister agencies,” Carney said.
CDOT promised to repair broken signs reported by CBS 2 as soon as possible.