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Road Sign Spelling Error Costly, But Still Funny

It’s always fun to laugh when a government agency makes a simple mistake…at least until you find out how much it’ll cost to fix it.

Residents who live in and around Ephrata, Pennsylvania, say the misspelling or mispronunciation of the township’s name isn’t that uncommon. But somehow, most people expect Pennsylvania’s Department of Transportation to at least get it right.

But when a highway exit sign along Route 222 had to be replaced recently, someone didn’t catch an embarrassing spelling error. So now the exit sign for Ephrata is an exit sign for Epharta.

Yes, Epharta instead of Ephrata. Pronounce them out loud and you’ll hear the difference!

Spelling errors on road signs are very rare, claims a representative from PennDOT, the state’s transportation department. Still, even one is too many when you consider the state’s sign shop will have to spend somewhere between $800 and $1,200 to fix a relatively simple mistake.

Do you have an extra $1,200 burning a hole in your pocket? If so, please let me know and I’ll email you my address: I’d love to help you out with that. Just sayin’.

Back in May, a Caltrans subcontractor in the Bay Area of San Francisco along Highway 880 mispelled Milpitas as Milipitas. (Did you catch that extra I there?) I’ve driven on Highway 880 and I’ve actually been to Milpitas. Even I would have caught that one. Caltrans’ subcontractor had to foot the bill to replace the error there. Hopefully, taxpayers won’t have to foot the bill in Ephrata, either.

But wait, it gets better.

In Florida, crews were installing a road sign when a worker noticed something was amiss: the Arkansas-based company that fabricated the road sign managed to misspell Florida, not once, but twice, as Flordia. And this sign was pointing to an exit for Florida State College. That company agreed to fix its error.

Florida going to Arkansas for a road sign? That’s going a long way to make a point. And a wrong one at that.

When these mistakes happen, it can take up to a month to fix the mistake. Maybe the government should hire graffiti artists: it takes them almost no time at all to leave their mark. And most of the time, they do so for free. I bet they’d work pretty cheap, but the downside could be that you wouldn’t be able to make out their lettering as easily.

I have to wonder how far computers are involved in the process. Surely someone had to type up the order, and, I suspect, somewhere along the way, a computer was involved in the crafting of the lettering. But if each letter, once produced, is still placed by hand, that may be where things took a wrong turn.

Silly humans.

Have you ever spotted a road sign spelling error? Did you report it to anyone, and if so, how long did it take to correct the mistake?

2 Comments

  1. That’s not terribly far from my hometown of Whitehall (near Allentown), PA.  I saw a story regarding Florida being spelled incorrectly on a sign twice (they spelled it Flordia).

  2. I live near Ephrata so this story has been all over the news!  (Slow news day, apparently.  Nothing else to talk about except for the rain and more rain….)  It’d be funny if it wasn’t so expensive to fix. :-/

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Patrick is a Christian with more than 28 years experience in professional writing, producing and marketing. His professional background also includes social media, reporting for broadcast television and the web, directing, videography and photography. He enjoys getting to know people over coffee and spending time with his dog.