Friday, September 19, 2014

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Queens Week: Maspeth Sign Shop Points City In Right Direction

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As NY1 kicks off Queens Week, borough reporter Ruschelle Boone filed the following report about a Maspeth shop that points the city in the right direction.

You name it, at the Maspeth Sign Manufacturing Shop, they make it. From large highway signs to those smaller, more discreet ones that could lighten you're wallet, this is the place where all New York City street signs are made.

It's exciting," says Patrick Ambrogio of NYCDOT. "Everywhere you look there's a street name sign. There's a stop sign; there's a regulation sign. I know those signs came out of this shop."

The shop is a division of the New York City Department of Transportation. Before the signs can hit the road, they have to go through a sometimes long and colorful process.

The workers start by cutting, drilling and sizing large sheets of aluminum in the machine shop.

From there the metal is brought into the art room where some are put on a conveyor belt where the particular colors are sprayed on and dried. Others are fed through a machine where colored adhesive paper is laminated onto the aluminum.

After that the letters are stenciled onto it. Sometimes that's done with the help of a machine and some times it's done by hand. The ones that are done by hand are called computer generated vinyl signs.

"It's faster. There's no drying time, and it's just a less expensive way of doing this," says Alex Soultanis of NYCDOT.

There are about 25 people who work in the shop and they crank out about 75,000 signs every year.

"We are the biggest sign manufacturing shop in the country," says Ambrogio.

The managers say this is always a busy shop, but the manufacturing process kicked into over-drive after September 11th.

"We didn't only make signs," says Ambrogio. "We were involved with a lot of emergency detours. We were out there helping emergency vehicles enter and leave the city. We organized bus routes. We made certain signs for certain emergency facilities."

These days many of the signs they make are replacements for those that are either worn, missing or stolen.

Stealing a street sign is a federal offense, so to deter people from taking them, the shop makes signs that people can buy. You can even get one with your name on it.

To find out more about the DOT's sign purchase program you can log on to www.nyc.gov/dot.

- Ruschell Boone
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