Major city government screw up: Street signs installed all over town with the wrong info

WFXT Fox 25 received a viewer tip that uncovered dozens of erroneous new signs that were placed around Boston, Massachusetts last summer. Mike Beaudet from WFXT’s Fox Undercover looked into the tip and found how wide spread the problem was.

A glaring example of the blunder was on Commonwealth Avenue where just steps away from each other, a new 2A West sign had an arrow pointing left while the nearby older 2A West sign had an arrow pointing right.

The station also discovered that there were numerous problems with signs along a stretch of Boston’s busy Massachusetts Avenue. At every intersection, every new sign for 2A directed drivers in the wrong direction. At the intersection of Columbus and Massachusetts Ave, there were yet again 2A signs pointing the wrong direction. But even more surprising, there was a sign for Route 28 East, a road that doesn’t exist. Route 28 travels only north and south. Across the intersection the station saw an accurate North 28 sign. On Forsyth Street, East and West Route 9 signs, feet apart, point in the same direction. It doesn’t end there. If you’re interested, check out the WFXT story for more examples of the botched signage.

The signs were part of a huge $5.6 million city project. The street sign portion of the project reportedly included the installation of 728 new signs at a cost of about $20,000. Those in the city and state government were unaware of the problem that had existed for months. It was only after the investigative report that any action was taken. So far, officials say that they’ve fixed 36 signs and have 17 more of the identified erroneous signs to go. Officials have said they will check all 728 signs for accuracy.

Tom Tinlin who was the head of Boston Transportation Department during the installation project (now working for the Massachusetts Department of Transportation) admitted that there was a big screw up and told WFXT, "It seems like there was a breakdown in communication between the consultant hired by the city of Boston, the city itself and MassDOT.”

Tinlin is saying that the problem started with Jacobs Engineering, a consultant firm hired by the city. The firm drafted the plans that included the erroneous sign placement. Officials plan on meeting with the firm to have Jacobs Engineering pay for any costs associated with the mistake. The station’s repeated calls to the firm were not returned.

Tinlin said, “When you have a large destination area that is congested, the last thing that we need to be, and the big ‘We.’ You know the ‘We’ of government, the ‘We’ who take a multimillion-dollar project and try to make things better. The last thing that we need is to confuse the public in which we’re trying to serve.”

Boston Mayor Marty Walsh, who was not in office at the time of the error, told reporter Mike Beaudet that he’s concerned that it took so long for the problem to come to the city’s attention and, “This was, from what I understand, an outside contractor and I haven’t spoken to them myself directly. But I’m going to make sure that they're spoken to if they want to continue to work in the city of Boston."

Videos and more info: WFXT