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NEW SIGN POINTS UP BUREAUCRATIC MAZE

Q IN THE FALL OF 1988, I observed that a blue "H" hospital sign was misplaced in the inbound Kensington Expressway when new signs were erected.

This particular sign is located at the Scajaquada and, instead of sending emergency vehicles onto the Scajaquada to nearby Sisters Hospital, sends them downtown. I felt that the extra two to three miles might make a difference to a seriously ill or injured person who needs immediate emergency attention and communicated that concern to Sisters Hospital.

I received a response from Dr. A. Charles Massaro and vice president for Medical Affairs, saying, "I agree with your assessment that this probably was an original error. However, it does present the potential of risk to ill patients traveling on the Kensington Expressway and being diverted to a hospital further down the road. I will discuss this with our administrative staff and see which is the best way to have the sign placed in its proper position."

That was in December of 1988 and, despite assurances that action will be taken, it has yet to be corrected. -- D.D., Amherst
A TALK ABOUT bureaucratic baloney!

We're talking here about moving a misplaced hospital sign -- which indeed could create a life-threatening situation in getting a seriously injured or ill person to the hospital promptly -- moved a short distance from one point to another.

From the time of your original observation of the problem over one year ago, the simple resolution to the problem has required appeals to the state Department of Transportation by Sisters Hospital, News Power and the office of Assemblyman Robin Schimminger -- just to send the issue to "committee" -- and another six months for the committee to recommend doing something about it.

On June 8 last year, Robert J. Russell, regional director for the DOT, informed Schimminger that he had asked his Traffic and Safety Group to initiate a traffic engineering investigation to review your "concerns".

He said that committee's "findings and recommendations" would be released at the study's conclusion.

They finally got around to that on Jan. 9 of this year, with Russell writing to Schimminger and reporting, "We have reviewed the signing on the Kensington Expressway in the vicinity of the Scajaquada Expressway interchange relative to existing hospital service signing.

"In order to provide proper direction to motorists to Sisters of Charity Hospital, we are recommending modification to the hospital service signs for both eastbound and westbound motorists approaching the Route 198 interchange. The existing 'H' sign for westbound traffic will be relocated from the Humboldt Parkway exit sign to the 'Route 198 West' exit sign.

"An existing 'H' sign for eastbound motorists on the Best Street bridge will be relocated to the 'Route 198 West' exit sign immediately in advance of the exit ramp. Follow-up signing is already provided on Route 198 directing motorists to the Main Street exit.

"This work will be completed as weather and work scheduling allow."

The job seemed easy enough. We're talking about moving the signs a few-hundred yards each way to indicate the proper exits and can't help but wonder why -- a year ago -- someone in charge could not have said, to someone who knows how to take a sign down and put one up, "When you get a chance this week, take an hour and move those signs."

Apparently, a quick solution to a simple problem is not covered in the Bureaucrat's Handbook.

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