Milwaukee, Wisconsin Alderman Bob Donovan, who says some of his city's street signs have been effective for close to 100 years may have another sign in mind to offer the federal government. This comes after the more than 800-page "Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices" has Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) agreeing that U.S. street signs can not be properly read by drivers.
Since they can't be properly read, the federal government says street signs can no longer be made using all capital letters, and when signs are replaced they must be replaced with signs that use lowercase letters with an initial uppercase letter. U.S. cities will have until 2015 to improve the nighttime visibility of roadside signs — such as stop, yield and railroad crossing signs.
All street signs must be replaced by 2018. But the most stunning turn of events comes in the form of the cost. The federal government is expecting local governments to foot the bill.
David Bertram, legislative team leader with the Michigan Townships Association says, “We see it as an unfunded mandate.”
On average, cities should plan to spend anywhere from close to $50 to $100 per sign. Canyon, Texas, city manager Randy Criswell says the Texas Panhandle city of about 15,000 will replace 1,500-2,000 signs at a cost of about $100 apiece. To Donovan and the city of Milwaukee, that means a price tag of $1.4 million for new signs in the next four years.
Other city's estimated costs
- Indianapolis, Indiana: 4,200 signs at a cost of $800,000
- Kansas City, MIssouri:$35 million over the next five years
- New York City: 250,000 street signs at an estimated $27.5 million
"As drivers get older, we want to make sure they're able to read the signs," says FHWA administrator Victor Mendez. "Research shows that older drivers are better able to read signs when they're written in both capital and small letters. It's really driven by safety."
However, many people feel street signs are far from crucial needs in such an economic downturn.
"I think it's just the federal government run amok. If they don't have far more important things to deal with, they're not doing their job," says Donovan
With such a stir across the U.S., the FHWA is accepting comments from the general public. Click on the website link provided in the information below.
What do you think? Share your opinion in the comments section.
The FHWA has issue a notice seeking additional public input on compliance dates for a number of federal traffic control regulations, ranging from road sign reflectivity to crosswalk timing. The public will have 45 days starting November 30, 2010 to submit comments to the Federal Register. To review the Federal Register notice and to post comments, please go to www.regulations.gov and enter FHWA-2010-0159 as the docket number.
The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), which has been administered by the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) since 1971, is a compilation of national standards for all traffic control devices, including road markings, highway signs, and traffic signals. It is updated periodically to accommodate the nation's changing transportation needs and address new safety technologies, traffic control tools and traffic management techniques.