In your correspondence, you expressed the US 50 Association's concerns regarding the effects of GPS navigational systems on traffic volumes and safety on US 50 between I-79 in Harrison County and New Creek in Mineral County. Specifically, the US 50 Association is requesting that signs warning GPS users of the characteristics of Route 50 be posted at both ends of this roadway segment.
Drivers who are planning a trip into unfamiliar territory use a variety of resources to select their routes. These include, but are not limited to, verbal or written directions from family members and/or friends; various types of maps; tour guide books and periodicals; advertising materials obtained from various business and governmental and private organizations; automobile clubs or travel services such as the American Automobile Association (AAA); Internet resources, such as MapQuest or Google Maps; or electronic devices such as GPS units.
Drivers use these tools, singly or in combination, to assist them in making route choices based on the time available; the lengths and other characteristics of various alternate routes; the probability of encountering road work or other sources of congestion and delay; weather; their assessments of their own skills; the availability of services; and many other tangible and intangible factors.
The West Virginia Division of Highways (WVDOH) does not have the legal authority to require drivers to avoid a certain route unless there is some obstacle or condition which prevents the facility from being used by all vehicles, or by certain classes of vehicles. We also believe, given the wide range of travel planning resources and choices which are available, that the posting of warning signs, such as those the US 50 Association is suggesting, would have very little effect on the overall travel patterns that long distance, unfamiliar drivers will chose to take. These signs may also meet with some resistance from various institutions and businesses located along US 50 due to the potential diversion of their customers and visitors. We, therefore, must respectfully decline any requests to install these or similar signs, or to permit them to be installed on WVDOH right of way.
Should the US 50 Association still desire to pursue the installation of such signing, you can explore the option of placing your own signs on private property adjacent to the DOH right of way. However, certain other restrictions would apply, in that the WEST VIRGINIA CODE specifies that such signs located on property adjacent to WVDOH right of way cannot contain any commercial advertising; and that the signs may not be an imitation of or resemble an official traffic control device. This means that 1) certain color combinations incorporated into official highway regulatory signs (i.e. STOP, YIELD, DO NOT ENTER, SPEED LIMIT, WRONG WAY, etc.) and warning signs (i.e. CURVE AHEAD Symbol, PEDESTRIAN CROSSING Symbol, TRUCK CROSSING Symbol, ROAD WORK AHEAD, etc.) signs could not be used and 2) official highway signing shapes, such as diamonds (warning signs) or octagons (STOP signs), could not be used.
We understand and appreciate the concerns expressed in your e-mail. We continually monitor the operation and condition of US 50, and we attempt to address any identified deficiencies as rapidly as possible.
Thank you again for bringing this issue to our attention and for your Association's continuing efforts on behalf of the Division of Highways and the public. If you have any further questions, please do not hesitate to contact my office.Barry Warhoftig, P.E.
Director, Traffic Engineering