Signs point way to parkway safety

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New E911 signs on Blue Ridge Parkway will help fire, police and rescue workers find addresses more easily.

By Christopher Brooke, Reporter

A subtle change has occurred on the Blue Ridge Parkway that may help those in need get more timely lifesaving assistance.
Twin County E911’s Allen Cox bolted in the last two road name signs on their post at the parkway’s intersection with Horizon Road in Grayson County on Tuesday afternoon.
The vertical signs appear as white lettering on a brown background on the stop sign posts on 33 roads in Carroll and Grayson counties that connect with the parkway, said Jolena Young, Twin County E911 coordinator.

They eschew the usual green horizontal road signs to be in keeping with the rural aesthetic found on “America’s Favorite Drive.”
The national park’s landscape architect had to approve the signs, which are consistent with examples in other localities along the leisure road.
E911 spearheaded the effort to put names on roads along with numbers to identify them years ago.
People using directions usually find it easier to get around by using the road names instead of the numbers — and that includes police, fire and rescue, locals and tourists, Young said.
“Everyone is much more familiar with the road names,” she said. “When I first started, [Galax Police Capt James Cox] was one of the first to mention it.”
Fire and rescue personnel also brought up fixing the lack of names on roads that joined the parkway as a way to improve their ability to respond to emergencies.
So, the Twin County E911 Regional Commission contracted with the parkway to make the signs and installed them from mile markers 186 to 207.
It cost $2,790 for everything, and the parkway will assume their maintenance for the future.
Young expects the road names to help cut down on confusion among the public.
“It will avoid delays from them missing a road because it wasn’t signed,” she said. “And on the parkway, that may be five minutes to 20 depending on where you miss a turn."
It will also help emergency responders greatly if all residents of the Twin Counties make their addresses easy to see, Young added.
“As important as street signs are, even more important is for individuals to place their house number with reflective lettering clearly visible from the highway,” she said.  “For those with long drives, signs at the turn-off(s) and on their house may be needed.”