How The 'Los Fezil' Sign Fail Happened
Earlier this week, a brand new sign was installed on the 5 Freeway, one that welcomed folks to hipster neighborhood of "Los Fezil." Many were left wondering how this misspelled sign managed to make its way onto a freeway sign post, but a Caltrans official explained to us what led to this mistake.
The husband of Redditor Pixelated_Penguin first took notice of the misspelled "Los Fezil Blvd" sign erected on Monday evening and snapped a couple of photos of it, one of which showed a Caltrans worker attempting to fix the mistake with tape. Pixelated_Penguin then posted the photos onto Reddit the next day, and told LAist, "My husband said that he asked the guys about it, and apparently there's a two stage process for approving these signs, and it got past both of them."
LAist spoke to Caltrans Public Information Officer, Patrick Chandler, who said he didn't know who Pixelated_Penguin's husband talked to, and if that person was an official source. Redditor Dirtside, the husband who who took the photos, later posted a comment on Reddit, saying, "Although from the way he was talking, it sounded like the work crew was NOT part of Caltrans, but rather some independent company contracted to do the actual replacement work. He kept referring to Caltrans as if he and his guys weren't part of that organization, but I didn't ask."
Chandler says the sign fail was the fault of the manufacturer, and that Caltrans' design engineers—who have professional licensing throughout California—wrote very specific instructions for the sign to be made. However, the manufacturer, which was hired by a subcontractor, messed up. Chandler's not clear who the manufacturer is, but identified the subcontractor as C.A. Rasmussen, Inc., and reiterated that it was not an engineering mistake, but rather a manufacturing one.
Last month, Marketplace reported that many of America’s highway signs are made by prison inmates, however, Chandler was not able to confirm if this was the case with this particular sign.
"This isn't government at its worst, this is just a manufacturing mistake," Chandler said. "These mistakes do occur on occasion but the signs don't stay in place."
The Caltrans inspector on site quickly noticed the misspelling after workers put up the sign, and took it down within 30 minutes, Chandler said. Crews then put back up the original sign they had that they had been trying to replace.
The reason this sign was being replaced in the first place was because Caltrans has been working for months repaving the 5 Freeway. One of the safety enhancements was to upgrade the signage on the freeway with newer signs that are more reflective so they're easier for drivers to see at night.
The subcontractor will be delivering a new and correct sign to Caltrans to replace the "Los Fezil Blvd" one, at no extra cost since it was the manufacturer's mistake, in two weeks.
Chandler said he knows how millennials are, and how people like to post on social media showing the government looking stupid. He admits it was embarrassing, but in the end it was just a mistake and they quickly spotted the problem. Chandler said that the people who work for Caltrans are all well-educated, nobody got hurt because of this misspelled sign, and they do good work—like when they helped people get out of the devastating mudflows in the Antelope Valley earlier this month.
"There's no sinkhole under the 5, there's no mudslide, the roadways aren't falling apart and people aren't going to get lost going to 'Los Fezil,'" he said.