FOX UNDERCOVER (MyFoxBoston.com) -- As if getting around Boston isn't hard enough, FOX Undercover has found dozens of erroneous street signs in the city, a blunder that has red-faced officials scrambling to correct the wrong-way road markers.
"You have a hard enough time if you're out of town, then you come in here and the street signs aren't pointing in the right direction, that makes it even worse," said one visitor to Boston.
The mixed-up markings were installed last summer as part of a $5.6 million city project, part of which including installing 728 signs for about $20,000. After FOX Undercover alerted officials to the mess, the city and state fixed a combined 36 signs so far and say they have another 17 to go.
Many of the problems were along Massachusetts Avenue, over which Rte. 2A also runs for part of its length.
For example, heading outbound on Commonwealth Avenue, a motorist would see two separate signs for Rte. 2A West. The older sign is correct, telling drivers to turn right to head down Rte. 2A West. But a newer sign, placed just before the older one, tells drivers to turn left for Rte. 2A West.
Over on Beacon Street, it's a similar problem. A sign for Rte. 2A East has an arrow that is actually pointing west. And a sign for Rte. 2A West has an arrow that is instead pointing east. So a driver wanting to get to Cambridge by following the signs would instead turn the wrong way and head toward Roxbury instead.
We found similar problems up and down Mass. Ave. at almost every intersection. For example, a motorist heading downtown on Columbus Avenue approaching Mass. Ave. sees not only a sign for Rte. 2A pointing in the wrong direction but would also see a sign for Rte. 28 East.
The problem: there is no Rte. 28 East. The road traverses north and south. There is even a correct sign for Rte. 28 North on the other side of the intersection.
On Tremont Street, a similar problem. A sign directs travelers to Rte. 28 West, another non-existent road.
For an out-of-towner visiting the State House, they might want to leave the city by heading down Beacon Street and going north onto Rte. 28. But the Rte. 28 North sign is pointing left, sending the driver down Arlington Street and toward the South End, never to see another sign for Rte. 28 again.
But if the driver had stayed straight on Beacon Street for one more block, there's a sign for Rte. 28 North pointing in the right direction to direct the vehicle onto Storrow Drive.
"It's sort of like where's your left hand. Nope that's your right hand," said one resident.
No one in city or state government had any idea about the sign problem until contacted by FOX Undercover. But now dozens of signs have been replaced, and more will be fixed after new signs are made.
FOX Undercover sat down with Tom Tinlin, who is now with the Massachusetts Department of Transportation but until last month was the head of the Boston Transportation Department.
"We're not talking about just one or two signs. Someone screwed up here big time" FOX Undercover reporter Mike Beaudet said to Tinlin.
"I think that's obvious, right," Tinlin replied. "It seems like there was a breakdown in communication between the consultant hired by the city of Boston, the city itself and MassDOT. So we have to take this as a lesson learned and say that can't happen."
Tinlin says the mixup originated with the city's consultant, Jacobs Engineering, which put incorrect information on the plans. A spokesperson Jacobs Engineering did not return several phone calls requesting comment.
"It's almost comical. In some spots you see arrows pointing in opposite directions for the same road, supposedly," Beaudet said to Tinlin.
"It might be comical to you, but it's not when you do this for a living," Tinlin replied."You do like to think some common sense would carry the day and somebody would have noticed it."
Boston's new mayor, Marty Walsh, isn't laughing either, even though it didn't happen on his watch.
"It shouldn't have happened. Things happen, which is unfortunate. The thing that concerns me is that it took so long to figure it out," Walsh said.
"It doesn't seem like a lot to ask to expect signs pointing in the right direction," Beaudet asked.
"No it doesn't," Walsh replied. "This was an outside contractor and I haven't spoken with them myself directly. But I'm going to make sure they're spoken to if they want to continue to work in the city of Boston."