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The District’s deficit is approaching a billion dollars. Its municipal bonds are as valuable as toilet paper. Federal judges are threatening to close the schools again. You’re getting worried, and you’d like a sign that tells you which way the city is headed.
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Wait no longer. On the southern corners of the intersection of 15th Street (a one-way headed north) and S Street NW, there are new traffic lights. Two of these lights help guide cars driving on S. But the other lights signal the surreal. For they face against the one-way, directing traffic that never flows south into the city. The backward beacons can be found all along 15th Street.
According to Department of Public Works spokeswoman Linda Grant, their purpose is to warn pedestrians walking south whether it’s safe to navigate the cross streets. Equipment and labor were “100 percent paid for by federal aid. There was no overtime,” says Grant, adding that the city had wanted to install walk/don’t walk signs, but lacked the funds. Since some backward lights have been around since the ’70s, Grant says that area residents understand the intent of the surreal signals.
If not the intent, at least the symbolism.