By Jim Boylan

Back in June I read a post on the Mad River Valley Real Estate blog by Steve Robbins entitled “Signs, Signs, Everywhere Signs.” It was about a specific sign on the Moretown Mountain Road. Steve’s reaction was expressed in this short paragraph at the end of his piece, “None the less my initial gut reaction was of some small loss. More accurately, it’s a short moment of nostalgia, for when there were fewer signs and lights.”


Steve’s piece prompted me to do a sign count again. I did one in August of 2019 which was published in The Valley Reporter.

For the sake of comparability, I counted the same section of roadway I did in 2019, from Kenyon’s to the junction of Route 100 and Route 17, a distance of 2 miles. I did not count street name signs and permanent or temporary business signs or the Waitsfield School signs.

Here is the breakdown:

                                                                           2019        2023


South from Kenyon’s to Bridge Street – 2019, 17; 2023, 20.

South from Bridge Street to the junction of 100 and 17 – 2019, 17; 2023, 17.

North from junction of 100 and 17 to Bridge Street – 2019, 15; 2023, 19.

North from Bridge St to Kenyon’s – 2019, 20; 2023, 22.

Total: 2019, 69; 2023, 78.

In 2019 there were 3.45 public signs per tenth of a mile and in 2023 there are now 3.9 public signs per tenth of a mile a number that seems high for a state that cares enough for its view shed to have banned private billboards. These 78 signs represent a 13% increase over the five-year period.

Main Street in Waitsfield is beginning to look like a low budget carnival midway. In 2022 the Mad River Chamber of Commerce received a private grant to buy a number of Mad River Valley flags. As far as I can determine these flags were put up at the direction of the chamber with no other input. There are now nine of these flags adding to the visual clutter in the two miles between Kenyon’s and Route 17. It is also not clear if the Mad River Valley Chamber received the grant and put up the flags why Waitsfield is the only Valley town that has the dubious distinction of hosting these on the streetscape.

The chamber flags are of pedestrian design, dubious quality and add nothing to the street scene. Unlike the smaller, well designed, handmade artistic flags on the Bridge Street light posts that convey a true sense of The Valley.

As you walk, drive or bike around The Valley, look at the signage and take note of the confusing signs, like the bus stop signs (when there is no bus service) and the signs that direct Valley visitors to the Welcome Center on Bridge Street that moved almost a year ago to Route 17.

Focus on signage and make your own decision as to whether or not the signage on Route 100 is becoming as invasive as knotweed and choking the natural beauty of our town.

Let your local and state elected officials and VTtrans know what you think. We chop down knotweed, let’s cut down on the invasive signage.

Jim Boylan lives in Waitsfield.