NEW YORK–The greatest city in the world has been ordered to stop shouting.
On street signs, that is.
Following a directive of the Federal Highway Administration, New York City will change its 250,000 street signs from all-caps to lowercase by 2018. This means WALL ST will become Wall St, promoting a softer image for the bedeviled financial industry (not discounting a little help from baby-faced Shia LeBeouf).
The change is supposed to help drivers—particularly older drivers—with faster reading comprehension. A new font, Clearview, has been developed for easier readability.
New York initially opposed the change, citing replacement costs greater than the supposed benefits. At $110 per sign, the project is estimated to cost the state $27.5 million.
Janette Sadik-Khan, city transportation commissioner, told the New York Post that 11,000 signs will have been replaced by the end of this fiscal year. She noted that approximately 8,000 signs are already replaced annually due to normal wear and tear.
Still, in a city and state strapped for cash, the change is not without its critics. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-NY) said he’s considering sending a letter to the Highway Administration, “but I’m trying to figure out whether to put STUPID in all caps so they’ll understand it.”
While the change may help older drivers, no one seems to be focusing on the next generation—those who have only lived in this millennium and will be taking to the roads by completion of the project in 2018. For them, will all-lowercase, phonetic spelling abbreviations (such as brdwy, mdson av, and blkr st) cause fewer accidents?
Only Times Sq will tell.