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Feds Force NYC To Replace All Street Signs

NEW YORK (CBS 2/WCBS 880) -- Is it a safety issue, or just plain stupid?

The federal government is requiring New York City to change the lettering on all of its street signs.

CBS 2's Magee Hickey went to one of the first neighborhoods to get the new signs to see what residents think.

Old city street signs are written in all caps. But the federally mandated new way has a mix of upper and lower case letters. Which is easier to read?

LISTEN: WCBS 880's Rich Lamb reports

"To me the easier to read is with capital letters," Norwood resident Jose Manuel said.

"I think this one is easier to read, bigger letters," Sonia Covington added.

"I believe the upper case, all upper case, a lot easier to read," said Marquise Campbell.

But the feds disagree.

By the year 2018, the Federal Highway Administration is requiring that all 250,000 New York City street signs be changed to the upper and lower case font called "Clearview." The feds say drivers can identify the words more quickly with the upper/lower case mix, particularly at night. A few New Yorkers agreed.

"I would say that one -- lower/upper -- easier to read. Yes, the letters are larger," Fordham resident Frank Segarra said.

For some, it's a matter of aesthetics. The 34th Street Business Improvement District used its own money to change the signs to upper and lower case years ago. To them, it was a question of size. To them, size matters.

The larger blue Midtown signs are much more expensive then the green ones the city will be replacing -- at a cost of $27 million.

A spokesman for the Department of Transportation said: "Federal standards already require replacing all street signs by 2018 with new, more reflective signs, and we will comply with the federal lettering requirement at the same time. Since the lifespan of a sign is about 10 years, most signs would be routinely replaced during that period anyway."

But still, many Bronx residents wonder.

"You have unemployment, poverty, better ways to spend that money than on signs," one person said.

The Bronx is the first borough to get the new street signs.

City transportation officials said they'll be no effect on the city budget because these new street signs are being paid for with state funds.

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