What do newcomers and old-timers bemoan most about the Triangle? The glaring lack of mass transportation? The crappy quality of televised news? The curious absence of even one thriving downtown?

For my money, the most reliable local groan-generator is the Raleigh Beltline. Twenty-plus miles of multiple lanes, neither well planned nor well marked. Sure, it’s just “one big circle,” but it’s also one long circle, meaning 15 or 20 minutes of drive time before you realize something’s wrong. And that’s if you’re lucky and don’t end up in Sanford.

So what might it take to transform the Triangle’s premiere transportation suck-zone into a roadway we’d really want to use? One inexpensive solution that involves neither construction nor demolition is signs. Simple highway signs, like the following:

Going To North Raleigh, Downtown Raleigh, Cary, Or Garner? Sorry. We Provide Directions Only To Rocky Mount, Sanford And Wake Forest.

Prepare To Slam Brakes And/Or Rear-End Someone ‘Cause There’s A Freakin’ Stop Sign At The Top Of This Teeny, Tiny Exit Ramp (I-440 west to outbound Capital Blvd.)

Cheat Death By Crossing Four Lanes Of Traffic To Reach U.S. 1 (I-440 east at Capital Blvd.)

Press The Gas And Move Your A–, You’ve Got A Dedicated Acceleration Lane (Wade Ave. inbound to I-440 east)

Press The Gas And Move Your A–, You’ve Got A Dedicated Acceleration Lane And It’s A Freakin’ Half-Mile Long (Capital Blvd. inbound to I-440 west)

Choose One: Rear Ended While Waiting At Back Of Line, Or, Crunched Cutting-In At Front (I-440 west to outbound Wade Ave., rush-hour only)

Confusing As Hell Lane Markings Ahead (I-440 west at Western Blvd.)

Welcome To The I-440 Beltline, An Urban Expressway Tailor-Made To The Traffic Volume Of 20 Years Ago