Wednesday, March 16, 2016

Having Walked Every Road...

Having walked every road in Maynard, I can report from personal observation a range that stretches from imaginary though abandoned, unpaved, unaccepted, in poor repair, all the way to really new (with or without new sidewalks). Likewise, street name signs range from non-existent to really old, to just old, to newish - but still not up to code.  

As a side note, of the 25 street names most commonly found across all 351 towns and cities of Massachusetts, Maynard matches for 18, including the top five (Maple, Park, Pine, Pleasant, Oak) and three of the next five: Elm, Main and Lincoln but not Highland or Cross (although Mill Street was Cross Street back in 1887). At least one street name - Guyer Road - is unique to Maynard.

According to a recent survey of all roads in Maynard by Beta Group, a consulting company, the totals came to 41.32 miles of accepted roads, 14.57 miles of unaccepted roads and 0.40 miles of state-owned roads, for a total of 56.29 miles. I believe this total does not include private roads nor roads that were abandoned, examples of the latter being roads that existed in land taken by the U.S. Army in World War II, currently incorporated into the Assebet River Wildlife Refuge.

Reasons for the survey were to evaluate whether unaccepted roads - currently not maintained by the Town - could be brought up to code and accepted, and to develop a three year plan for road and sidewalk repair and resurfacing. It is also important that the MA Department of Transportation concur with the Town on number of miles of accepted roads, as that dictates state funding aid for road repair.  

A problem with using a map of Maynard to research roads is there is no single, completely correct, map of Maynard. The last commercially printed atlas of Middlesex County, one town per page, showing all streets in each town, was published in 2003. That one included streets that existed only on paper - the never-built 42nd Street among them - and obviously did not include streets built since then, such as Karlee Drive or Keene Avenue.

E-maps, although continually being updated, do not always agree with reality or each other. In real life Maynard has a Latta Lane, off Waltham Street, but neither Google Map or Mapquest think it exists. Meanwhile, both show Puffer Road but only Mapquest names it (it's abandoned).   
  
Street sign in compliance with almost all of the regulations
(should be upper and lower case in Highway Gothic)
And now, to move our focus from an obscure to an abstruse topic, none of the street name signs in Maynard comply with current state regulations. State code calls for street signs to be adequately reflective and with lettering in upper and lower case Highway Gothic typeface. On major streets the lettering to be six inches for the capital letters and 4.5 inches for the rest. Side streets can use lettering 2/3 those sizes. All signs to have rounded corners, white borders, white lettering and green background. Inclusion of a town seal is optional. As Maynard's signs - even the newest - use all capital letters, every one must in time be replaced. [2017: a few signs converted to upper and lower case lettering.]   

Example of upper and lower case lettering (not Maynard)
Some replaced sooner than others. All street name signs are required to meet minimum reflexivity standards by the end of 2018. Roughly half of Maynard's street signs are relatively new, bear the Town Seal, have six inch all upper case lettering in Clearview typeface and are adequately reflective. The other half are not in compliance, as they are a mix of faded, smaller, sharp-cornered, lacking white borders, and in a handful of locations sport black lettering on a white background - a style dating back 40 years. Another handful of streets lack any sign whatsoever. Examples: Railroad Street and Shore Avenue.

Big oops! After years of research a federal recommendation was made in 2004 to switch from Highway Gothic typeface to Clearview - supposedly easier to read.  And then, in February 2016, the federal government rescinded its order, reverting to Highway Gothic. Turns out the original comparison research was flawed, in that it had compared brand new signs in Clearview with existing signs in Highway Gothic. The legibility difference was due to fade, not font. For some types of signs Clearview is actually harder to read at night.

NOT IN THE NEWSPAPER ARTICLE

Named streets with no signs (updated October 2017)Brown Street (=Rt 27N), Fifth Street, Florida Court, Heights Terrace, Shore Avenue (only sign is in Stow), Sudbury Road (only sign is in Acton), Tower Road (dirt road to water tanks), White Pond Road (only sign is in Stow).

Old street sign: black letters on white background
Private roads to condominium and apartment complexesApple Ridge, Assabet Place, Deer Path, Hemlock Lane, Marble Farm Road (has a Town sign), Oak Ridge (has a Town sign), Stonebridge Narrows and Summerhill Glen.

Named and on some maps, 
but do not exist42nd Street, 12th Street, Bluff Avenue, Fourth Street, Greenhalge Street, Harvard Road, Jeffery Drive, King's Lane, Lenox Avenue, Lowe Road, Noble Park, Oldfield Way,  Puffer Road (abandoned).... And a proposed development that never made it to a map: a 1934 plan shows the south side of Summer Hill, to be accessed off Summer Hill Road, to be divided into some 60+ lots on proposed streets Arbor Way, Border Road, Governors Avenue, Pleasant View Road and Rural Avenue, Came to naught. Land is now a combination of Conservation land and Municipal land.

White signs with black letters (as of March 2016): Boeske Avenue, Dartmouth Court, Guyer Road, Reo Road and Winthrop Avenue.

Acton and Concord have begun to install signs in upper and lower case lettering. Interestingly, in the South Acton Historic District, the signs have a black background instead of green. 

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