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Don’t blame the city: Federal rules forbid proper punctuation on Wichita’s flood-warning signs

  • The Wichita Eagle
  • Published Thursday, August 1, 2013, at 1:26 p.m.
  • Updated Friday, August 2, 2013, at 9:59 a.m.

The city has posted signs in the Bleckley Street area of east Wichita telling motorists, “When Flooded Turn Around Dont Drown.”

Good advice, bad punctuation.

Blame the feds, says a city official.

The signs were posted in the Bleckley area, between Oliver and Edgemoor, because a creek once flowed through there and it has remained prone to flash flooding since being paved over many years ago, Ben Nelson, the city’s public works strategy manager, explained in an e-mail to The Eagle.

The signs were installed recently to warn the public against crossing flooded streets, and the signs are promoted by the National Weather Service, he said.

The sign doesn’t have an apostrophe in the word “dont” in order to conform to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, which is administered by the Federal Highway Administration, Nelson said.

“It is the standard for making traffic signs uniform throughout the country,” Nelson said. “According to the MUTCD, ‘Word messages should not contain periods, apostrophes, question marks, ampersands, or other punctuation or characters that are not letters, numerals, or hyphens unless necessary to avoid confusion.’”

So dont get confused by the sign, dont drive into the water and dont blame the city for the missing apostrophe.

Reach Fred Mann at 316-268-6310 or fmann@wichitaeagle.com.

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