It’s hard enough to get people to see a sign for your business off the highway, but business owners along I-95 in Laurel, Maryland have been especially concerned by the potential removal of signs that direct drivers to “food, lodging, and tourism” options they benefited from. State Highway Administration (SHA) officials have gotten more than an ear-full over the course of several months of back-and-forth between them, politicians and local business owners. The talks started back in November 2013, when the owners learned that part of the Intercounty Connector construction along northbound I-95 (at exits 33A and 33B) would include removal of service-specific signs during its final phases. Beyond the typical “gas, food, lodging”, these signs were site-specific and logoed, boosting crucial traffic to Laurel or Burtonsville businesses.
The current construction will combine Contee Road and the ICC into one exit, diverting drivers along a side road for each. Southbound signs will remain in place, but northbound ones would be phased out, due to lack of space. For small towns like Laurel, these roadside signs mean the difference between drivers pulling over there or down the road. Consequently, Sen. Rosapepe asked SHA engineers to consider other options, in a bid to prevent the same kind of desolation that has rendered towns along Route 66 obsolete, bankrupt, and ultimately abandoned. (It was only a few years back that the town of Amboy, CA – along that famous corridor – put itself up for sale.)