Street signboards placed at traffic junctions and street corners are a big help to anyone navigating the city. However, many sign boards are either damaged or smudged. The Greater Chennai Corporation has embarked on a drive to replace such boards as part of the Singara Chennai 2.0 project.
In some cases, the boards have been removed for storm-water drain construction and not put back yet or just toppled, like the board identifying 12th Main Road in Madipakkam.
Wear and tear and repeated pasting of posters on their surface have made many of the sign boards illegible.
There is lack of uniformity in the design of old and new boards, an issue that the Corporation is yet to address.
According to M.S. Prasanth, Deputy Commissioner, Works, the Corporation last year identified 30,000 boards that needed to be improved and has since replaced only 8,000 of them at a cost of ₹8.7 crore.
Replacing the street signboards will take place in a phased manner.
New boards look swanky and bear the Singara Chennai 2.0 logo at the top and are made of a 3D reflective surface to provide better visibility at night and each board costs ₹4,500.
They are an improvement over the old boards as they are digitally printed and are expected to last eight to 10 years, the officials said.
However, old boards like the one indicating Muthu Street, off Gowdia Mutt Road, are virtually impossible to decipher and only a few letters are visible. Even the double-arrow board indicating Anna Salai has not been an exception to this pattern.
“In old boards, the white letters are stencil cut on the blue film. So, when posters are repeatedly pasted on them and removed, the film gets damaged and peels off”, said the Deputy Commissioner. He was confident that this would not be the case with new boards.
As Kannan, president, T. Nagar Residents’ Association, points out, signboards are used by hawkers to display their wares and some are even removed and despite raising a complaint with the Corporation a year ago, there has been no change.
A resident of Gandhi Nagar said the board indicating Gandhi Nagar Third Main Road was toppled three years ago and never replaced.
Signboards usually indicate the name of the road in English and Tamil as well as details such as the ward, zone and division numbers.
Even among old boards, there is discrepancy as some give these details but others like T.T.K. Road do not. In some cases like Blackers Road, the numbers have not been filled and this is in anticipation of any reclassification in zone and ward limits. This is another reason why the Corporation is holding back on replacing the boards.
In 2021, the Corporation proposed to include images of heritage buildings on sign boards but has since dropped the idea. Only certain roads such as Kamarajar Salai and Kutchery Road sport pictures of location-specific landmarks such as Kapaleeswarar temple.
Printing such specific signs is difficult and with so many features, the board tends to appear cluttered, said the officials.