Having dealt with a few stop signs of dubious merit in and around the Houston area, I can certainly feel the pain of Cranston, RI residents.
An NPR story (which links to local reports with more information) details the stop sign crisis in Cranston, which has discovered around 700 stop signs installed without going through the proper channels. An investigation revealed that the state DOT installed some one-third of the signs at the entrances to state roads. There is a state statute in Rhode Island that all drivers must stop prior to entering a state road, sign or not. I don’t know Rhode Island law but it is quite possible the DOT was legally justified in leapfrogging the city by installing the signs.
Anyway, that still leaves a great many of the stop signs unaccounted for, and a potentially dangerous situation. Put up too many traffic control devices, and the motoring public starts to lose respect for all of them. As a consequence of the superfluous traffic lights and signs, those that are truly needed get ignored by more drivers, with potentially disastrous and fatal consequences.
I’d like to think that residents did not take it upon themselves to install stop signs. While it may seem harmless to them, it’s an invitation to disaster if everyone does it.