Sign blunder links south to east

In late July, a construction company rebuilding an intersection erected signs that, like thousands of others in Alabama, display road numbers inside an outline of the state. The only problem: the signs were placed at the corner of routes 10 and 141 in Easthampton, Mass., more than 1,000 miles away from the Heart of Dixie.

A. Pereira Construction of Ludlow, Mass., was responsible for ordering the signs. Roger Remy, the contractor’s estimator, admitted to Boston Globe reporters he didn’t know what the background of the signs was supposed to depict, but didn’t question it because the numbers were right.

In fact, no one recognized the blunder except for a Massachusetts Highway Department worker, who brought them to the attention of Joe Pipczynski, public works superintendent for Easthampton.

Public works office manager Patty Cotton said the signs were fixed July 26 or 27. Highway signs in the state are supposed to be designed as a simple black number on a white square or rectangle.

“(The construction company) read the plan and whatever it requires, they had to do,” including ordering the signs, she said. The contractor wasn’t paid until the signs were corrected.

Pipczynski told reporters that after talking with both city and consulting engineers, he thinks the contractor simply opened the federal manual that guides what state highway signs should look like and sent a page with the example of a state road sign to the sign maker. The manual shows a road sign for Route 21 in Alabama.

A woman who answered the construction company’s phone refused to discuss the error. “It was a simple mistake and it’s fixed,” she said.

You can reach Ebony Horton at