Warning at the Border

I’m still catching-up from my brief holiday hiatus from Twelve Mile Circle responsibilities. It serves me right for thinking I could keep a low profile with so much geo-weirdness happening in the world at any given time. I imagine many of you saw mainstream press coverage of a few legislators in New Hampshire proposing warning signs for motorists about to enter neighboring Massachusetts?

The argument is that Massachusetts requires automobile insurance and motorcycle helmets, it places greater restrictions on guns and fireworks, and its more restrictive by nature in general. New Hampshire is all "Live Free or Die" and Massachusetts is, well, it’s the People’s Republic of Taxachusetts. That’s how it’s being framed by the NH Legislators involved. I think one quote from the article articulates this position rather succinctly: "Basically I had people come to me and tell me they had accidentally crossed the border and ended up on the wrong side of the law… If they had seen a sign saying ‘hey, you’re about to go into Massachusetts,’ they could have turned around." Indeed.

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A Section of the Hostile Border Region

I’ll leave it to each of you to determine a personal point of view since 12 MC isn’t a political blog (albeit we’ve waded into NH-MA waters briefly before). I also realize this bill is probably a bit tongue-in-cheek, voicing frustration without much expectation of actually passing. Nonetheless that doesn’t mean that I can examine some of the potential implications and have some fun with it.

Would this be the only instance where one state warns motorists of potential problems or restrictions in a neighboring state? I’ve seen plenty of examples that goes the other direction, where a state wants travelers to understand its restrictions to avoid unknowing trouble. I see this in my own beloved Commonwealth along major roads as one crosses the border: Speed enforced by aircraft; Speed Checked by Radar and Other Electrical Devices; and Radar Detectors are Illegal. I’ve seen actual border stops such as California’s Agricultural Inspection Stations (went through the Lake Tahoe Station once). Occasionally I see friendly exit messages like "Drive Safely — Return Again Soon" However the New Hampshire proposal would be a new one to me. Does anyone know of something similar — a warning about a neighboring jurisdiction — and can provide an associated Google Map link?

I like to examine the actual text of a bill when I see an article like this. I know, I’m weird. However source documents often provides revealing information that doesn’t make it into the news. The Legislature is called the The New Hampshire General Court; it is bicameral with a House of Representatives of 400 members. The General Court brags that it’s "the second largest legislature in the United States following the U.S. Congress." New Hampshire is also the 46th smallest of the 50 states so it seems there may be a bit of a Napoleon Complex going on here. It shouldn’t be surprising that "creative" ideas might make their way into the legislative process when representation covers such tiny slices of geography.

The bill, HB 1412 says, "All roads that cross the New Hampshire/Massachusetts state line shall bear signs that say “Warning: Massachusetts Border 500 Feet.” Lest anyone consider this a frivolous use of taxpayer funds, lawmakers propose that " No public money shall be used to pay for such signs." Instead a citizen, group, association or business will sponsor each sign, and in return will be able to erect "a suitable recognition sign."

Warning Massachusetts 500 Feet
I’ve combined both signs into a single sign for further cost savings

My next round of Adsense funding will go towards sponsoring a sign if HB 1412 passes and becomes New Hampshire law. The heck with another holiday abroad. Sponsorship competition will be stiff for signs along busy roads such as Interstates 93 and 95 but those wouldn’t be nearly geo-odd enough for me anyway. I’ll need to find someplace obscure. I have plenty of opportunities among the 138 existing road crossings between the two states.

Well, I counted 138 crossings — that’s what passes for a fun Saturday evening on the 12MC — although I can’t guarantee that exact number. It’s close enough for our purposes. The more significant point to understand is that there are plenty of border crossings that will need sponsors. The court decision for Yarnell v. Cuffley makes it practically impossible to deny 12MC sponsorship, so we’ll be able to sponsor a sign if the law passes and I have the necessary cash on hand.

I found a few possible locations for the Twelve Mile Circle warning sign:

  • It would probably be most useful along some random tertiary road that doesn’t even warrant a state border marker. However that seems rather boring for 12MC purposes.
  • The loops of Brooks Road and Brooks Road Extended may be more appropriate, requiring three signs to comply with the proposed law.
  • Motorists also need to know what they’re getting into when they visit these two houses at the end of a remote cul-de-sac. As an aside, I’d be thrilled to live in a home with a state border running straight down the driveway like the guy towards the east.
  • Maybe the Highway 12 crossing is a possibility, you know, because this is the Twelve Mile Circle?
  • My inner Beavis & Butt-head appreciates the special needs of an approach to Pecker Pond.

Any other sponsorship suggestions from the wise 12MC audience?

Totally Unrelated

Sports Nation Divided says that Turner, Montana is the "Saddest Town in America" because it’s the farthest away from a major league baseball team. I’m looking at you, Weekend Roady.

How Often Does This Get Stolen?

Roadway warnings in the United States are almost always presented on yellowish diamond-shaped signs. They might convey information such as upcoming curves, steep grades, dangerous intersections, rock slide areas, deer crossing areas or various other things to watch out for as one drives along. I saw a rather unusual one as I was researching my recent article on Beverly Hills as I poking along the canyons in Google Street View.

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"NO ACCESS TO THE HOLLYWOOD SIGN," it reads. I can imagine the poor residents of this area having to put up with visitors driving up their narrow roadway and then having to back all the way down again, probably dozens of times a day. It must have gotten so bad that they felt a road sign would provide the only relief. The visitors get so tantalizingly close, only to be thwarted in the quest.

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If a visitor got that close though, only to be turned away at the last moment, what are the chances they might want to walk away with some small memento to mollify their frustration? It even looks like someone has been tugging at the bottom corner. I hope its bolted it on tightly.

Icelandic Road Sign Map

Iceland is a country of barely 300,000 people with two-thirds of them living in the greater Reykjavík area. That makes for wide open spaces interspersed with small, scattered settlements across the remainder of this island nation. It also results in some of the most amazingly detailed road signs imaginable.

Icelandic Road Sign Map

I took this photograph on a trip to Iceland several years ago. Another great example can be found on Wikipedia’s Road Signs in Iceland page.

The rectangular shape with white border and text on a blue background indicates that it’s an informational sign. Signs of this nature are common at turnoffs from Route 1, the Ring Road that circles the island and connects many important towns, as well as from other major roads. Notice how much it conveys. It shows an entire road network emanating from this spot, complete with curves, turns, auxiliary roads and towns further down the road. Each homestead, hamlet, church and lodge is named by word or symbol. There’s even a red “you are here” indicator that provides the proper orientation and direction. A motorist facing this sign can rely on it to travel safely to the doorway of whomever they might want to visit.

If you want to get to the church at Stóri-Núpur, no problem, just bear to the left at the Y intersection, turn left on 328, then left again at the first driveway. Want to visit your buddy at Hamarsheiði? Third exit on the right.

A road sign of this nature would only be feasible within a small, stable, affluent population. That’s pretty much Iceland in a nutshell.