There comes a time when the merger of private interests with the authority to govern collide in a bad way. We have long been annoyed by the official signs along E-470 and I-25 showing services near exits that are much farther from the highway than indicated.
Background: Since the late 1990’s Colorado has relied heavily on a private company, Colorado Logos Inc., to sell and place advertising on the blue service signs along state controlled highways. Unfotunately, selling the placement of a business logo on the sign appears to have taken priority over accuracy.
Ironically, the company’s website states, “Throughout our history, we have remained committed to the three (3) groups of customers who must be satisfied with our work: the Transportation Agency to whom we report, the participating businesses, and, ultimately, the motorists who rely on the information we provide to make their travel safer and more efficient.”
Unfortunately, that last group doesn’t really seem to be very important since their money comes from the state and business whose logos are placed on official signs. Case in point, the E-470 exit onto 104th Street in Commerce City near Denver Airport advertises a McDonald’s west of E-470 is “1 mile.” In fact, it is 2.5 miles. Other lessor abuses may be indicating 3/4 of a mile to gas stations along I-25 that are no less than a mile away. Were these private billboards it wouldn’t be that important since people automatically distrust commercial advertising and expect hyperbally. Stating false mileage to food, gas stations or other services just to entice them to exit for the private company’s client – on official state signs is terrible because it conditions drivers to disregard safety information on more important official signs.
Today an engineer at E-470 measured the distance to McDonald ‘s, based on our complaint, and confirmed the actual distance is more than 200% than what was posted on the sign erected and maintenance by Colorado Logos. As a result, E-470 staff will now be auditing all the signs placed on their toll road by Colorado Logos Inc. for accuracy.
This reminds us of the time a candidate for Loveland City Council bragged about east Highway 34 having more turn-lanes into Centerra than going straight. The point, as I understood it at the time, was this was good for Loveland and the McWhinney’s that the city could “roll” CDOT into allowing Loveland to force traffic into the Promenade Shopping Center by limiting the number of lanes going east off I-25.
City planners and traffic engineers have no more business trying to manipulate traffic into city “partner” retail establishments than than a signage company representing the State of Colorado has in lying to the traveling public about distances between certain sponsors of their signage and the highway to encourage people to exit.