Charles Warren, superintendent of the DeKalb County Public School System, wanted to put signs on Alabama highways directing drivers to tornado shelters. But he was blown off by the Alabama Department of Transportation. The signs guiding motorists to a safe haven were considered unsafe.
In an email sent to Warren by Department of Transportation traffic engineer Travis Kilgore, Kilgore explained:
“The use of shelter directional signs have not yet been approved for installation on state roads. The overuse and overcrowding of signs can be a distraction to motorist (sic) and often lead to a disregard or disrespect of necessary regulatory and roadway warning signs. We understand the importance of notifying and guiding the public to storm shelters, but we cannot permit these signs on state routes.
“The Federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices requires States to develop a comprehensive plane (sic) to address miscellaneous guide signs and their installation on State roads. We limit guide signs, other than the primary destinations (Towns and Cities), to those destinations that a large number of motorists may be looking for. Our State Traffic Engineer has determined these signs are not approved for installation on State roads and has previously denied requests for shelter signs in South Alabama.”
In light of last year’s tragic tornadoes across Alabama, Warren argued that people traveling through the State need to be made aware of the location of shelters.
Initially, Warren’s plan was rejected, but in the end, he was able to put up the signs.