It’s hard to fix airport signage problem that officials say doesn’t exist

Just call me Princess Tenpercenter, my new Indian name taken in honor of my proud Cherokee ancestry and the 10 percent who officials claim are the only ones who have trouble with the signage at McCarran International Airport.

From the response I’ve had since that column ran last Saturday, there’s a whole tribe who think signage at the airport is lousy, particularly when entering from the airport tunnel.

Department of Aviation spokesman Chris Jones, aka Chief Signdefender, believes the signage is adequate. He concedes it’s easy for drivers to get confused, but he’s not willing to concede signage is the culprit.

He blames the short distance drivers have to make their decisions to change lanes, and the excessive speed of drivers. He’s right about that. Because so many commute via the tunnel, some drivers are racing while others are trying to slowly navigate the airport’s directional signs. It’s a dangerous mix.

During my ride along with Jones, cabbies twice nearly clipped us as we went round and round and round and round using the tunnel approach, changing lanes, following signs.

Jones has alternative explanations. "It’s easy to blame signage, but a more likely culprit is that airport roadways must channel traffic to a varying number of destination points (ticketing, long-term parking, passenger pick-up, etc.), typically within a very small geographic footprint. The signs are there, but people don’t always see them with everything else that’s going on around them, or they may not be in position to make the necessary maneuvers even when they do see the signs."

Jones said my earlier suggestion of adding "and" to signs that said "Terminal 1 departing flights" isn’t ever done in the sign world. OK.

What about my latest idea? Let’s add "all" to departing flights so people won’t get confused about whether they are chasing departing flights for Terminal 1 or Terminal 2. How tough is that?

I urged him to consider "All Departing Flights" as a solution.

Chief Signdefender made no promises to the woman distantly related to Cherokee families with the names Tenkiller and Mankiller.

The princess is empowered by the public’s 100 plus comments.

Former airport employee Lynn Barnett wrote: "The biggest complaint I heard from people flying out of there was the lack of signs. It’s a joke for them to claim that only 10 percent of people surveyed thought that there was any problems with the signs. … The airport has a long way to go before it is user friendly."

"Your comments on McCarran signs were right on. The signage is the most confusing of any airport we have ever been in. We are there frequently and still get confused. It would also help if they repainted the directional triangles and reviewed their inconsistent speed limit signs," wrote Jim and Diane Hutkin of Henderson.

"I live in Green Valley and I make constant runs to the airport to pick people up or drop them off. I STILL have problems navigating for the drop-offs," Pearl Adams wrote.

Dan Jacobs wrote: "As a former airline captain, I’ve flown into airports all over the world and usually driven into and out of most of them, and I’m not even close to being ‘directionally challenged.’ McCarran International Airport ranks up in the top 2 for bad signage."

Jacobs assured me I was not a dummy.

Taking the opposing view was David Clark Sr. "In reference to your comments in today’s paper, one of the biggest annoyances is reading your very biased dribble. … Your type of negative, crying, finger pointing which you market under the name of ‘commentary’ would be better placed in something like The National Enquirer or Star."

Les Altman offered Jones a challenge. "Let him pick FIVE drivers who have NEVER been to McCarran. I will bet money that 3 out of the 5 miss their destination." He’s willing to put up $100 if the airport will put up $10,000 and the winner donates the money to a worthy cause — proper signage at McCarran.

Princess Tenpercenter tried to suggest an easy fix to help others from going round and round at the airport, but I fear I’ve failed. Faced with resistance from airport officials, the easy fix for me is to use the easier-to-follow approach from Tropicana Avenue. But that doesn’t help those in the south.

Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. E-mail her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call (702) 383-0275.

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