There are characteristics within each State’s landscape, economy, religion makeup that combines to give each a different feel to it. Above all of this I have observed that it’s traffic lights that set States apart.
Department of transportation decision makers must have a book of options that rivals that of bank check reorder books. You know, the book you can go thru when ordering new checks? Endless pages featuring every sport, college, and cartoon character imaginable.
I first noticed these differences years ago, okay decades ago, when going to and from consulting gigs by car driving in north central Connecticut and on into Massachusetts. I’d go from the last stop light in CT where the traffic lights would be overhead in the center of the intersection to the first stop light in MA where there would be a tree light set located across the street in the far corner. It would take two or three lights before I would stop at some point before the middle of the intersection.
At my current stop in Michigan there is yet another unique setup. Just about every set of lights has one for going straight or right and another, designated, but a large lighted box with a big left arrow. You first get the green arrow and a flashing left. Then after the straight arrow turns red the left arrow goes green for a few seconds. After a day or two it seems like the norm. Till the weekend when you feel like you’re starting all over.
Of all the setups I’ve seen though the hands down winner still has to be the ones at the Wollaston Beach section of Quincy, MA. Those of you who are not familiar with this area it is not your Jack Klugman Quincy M.E. it’s pronounced Quinzzzzzzzy.
Along the beach road there are signs that denote “signals timed for frequent stops”. Massachusetts is king of traffic. Anyone who has ever spent a couple of hours of their life sitting on the Southeast “Expressway” can attest to that. It’s like a religion, one that’s taken very seriously.
Interspersed with those lights are another set that are for pedestrian crossings. These lights have a special surprise feature for color blind individuals. The light order has been reversed. There’s still a yellow light in the center but instead of the, as far as I know, global standard of the red light up top and green on the bottom here just for fun the green is on top and red on the bottom.
In doing a bit of research and double-checking for this I read something that I had forgotten. Another distinct setup within the Commonwealth, one of four I believe that are not called States (I’m not even Wikipedia so don’t come back to me if you get that wrong on a test), of Massachusetts is that the lights for pedestrian cross walks turn both solid red and solid yellow. This indicates that all vehicle traffic must come to a stop and pedestrians can cross. This evidently is a substitute for the solid walking person symbol.
So the next time you land on US foreign soil, take the shuttle, and get in your rental take a look around, and up, as you come to a stop.
Editor’s note: I’ve not been thru the Wollaston area in years and in doing research have found that there’s been a lot of re-work done there so some of what I’ve described may no longer be the case. Do recall one of the oddities being that the bar Nostalgia changed its name to the Beachcomber. Not quite like the Beachcomber I know. Though since I couldn’t remember the old name I had to look it up and found that it was named Nostalgia in the 80s and was originally named the Beachcomber. The original owner just passed away this past June.
In any event there’d be little fun in taking that section out.