Michigan's Route Markers: The Clearview Future?
In the late-1990s and early-2000s, a brand-new highway sign typeface, Clearview, was developed and tested heavily in Pennsylvania and Texas to replace the familiar FHWA typeface, in use since the middle of the 20th Century. Purported to give a certain segment of the motoring population with poor eyesight in nighttime driving conditions while using high-beam headlights a slightly longer time to clearly comprehend the signs, the Michigan Department of Transportation began a widespread program to remove existing freeway signage and replace them with brand-new signs with the new typeface in early 2005.
At first, when only the sign legends (the regular "text" on the signs) was being switched over to the new typeface, some wondered if the cherished FHWA typeface used on highway route markers since before the coming of the Interstate Highway System would also change. In the vast majority of the new guide signage installations, MDOT has been retaining the FHWA typeface for all route markers, so it seems the old font may be around—at least for the route markers—for awhile longer. However, a few route markers have cropped up during 2005 featuring the Clearview typeface along I-69 near Marshall, although these errant markers may be due to contractor error. Some errant I-96 Clearview route markers also showed up soon after along the Jeffries Freeway in Detroit.
Below are representations of existing Interstate, US, State and County route markers in use in Michigan followed by what those same markers may look like using only the Clearview font. Please keep in mind these are simply "artists renderings," if you will, as MDOT has only allowed a scant few Clearview route markers to be erected at present.
Interstate Highway Markers (FHWA Typeface)
Interstate Highway Markers (Clearview)
US Highway Markers (FHWA first, Clearview second)
State Highway Markers (FHWA first, Clearview second)
County Route Markers (FHWA first, Clearview second)
Federal Forest Highway & Forest Road Markers (FHWA first, Clearview second)
Every route marker image above was created by Christopher J. Bessert and, therefore, are copyrighted ©2005 Christopher J. Bessert, All Rights Reserved. Please do not reproduce or otherwise use them without permission. However, some acknowledgements and credit are necessary:
- Many thanks to Michael Adams and his "Roadgeek2005" typeface series used to create many of these route markers.
- Richard C. Moeur's "Sign Manual" website provided a few of the graphic bases used in creating these markers.
- James Lin's "Highway Route Markers" website provided much inspiration.
- Charles Sarjeant graciously provided a link to a photo of the very first Clearview route markers, posted near Marshall in mid-2005.
- Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices: Clearview Typeface Supplement - from the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).
- Design and Use Policy for Clearview Alphabet - a comprehensive FAQ site from the FHWA on the use of Clearview, including numerous examples and photos of unacceptable use currently on the highways.
- Clearview: A New Typeface for US Highways (via archive.org) - from Typographica (no longer online), a journal of typography featuring news, observations, and open commentary on fonts and typographic design.
- New lettering for signs - from MDOT.
- New Easy-Read Road Signs Based On PSU Research - a press release from Pennsylvania State University; also see photos of a Clearview sign and its creator.
- Clearview Hwy® - from Meeker & Associates.
- ClearviewOne HWY™ - typeface for sale by Terminal Design.
- ClearviewHwy® - ClearviewHwy is the font software produced by the design team that developed Clearview.
- Clearview Project - In 2011, Cooper-Hewitt, National Design Museum has acquired its first digital font, the Clearview family of typefaces.