Traffic sign retroreflectivity has become a matter of growing interest for local jurisdictions, largely due to the establishment of specific required levels by federal and state guidelines (via the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices [MUTCD]). This article updates the information presented in Issue 2, 2011, TEEX Lone Star Roads and the May 2011 issue of County Progress.
The earlier articles reported an established timeline as follows:
· Jan. 22, 2012 – Implementation and use of a plan for assessing (or managing) the maintenance of sign retroreflectivity.
· Jan. 22, 2015 – Replacement of regulatory, warning, and ground-mounted guided (except street name) signs that do not meet minimum levels.
· Jan. 22, 2018 – Replacement of street name signs and overhead guide signs that do not meet minimum levels.
Officially, these timelines are still in place. However on Aug. 31, 2011, a Notice of Proposed Amendments was published in the Federal Register, proposing to eliminate, extend, or otherwise revise most of the target compliance dates for upgrading existing traffic control devices that do not meet the current MUTCD standards.
As part of this Notice of Proposed Amendments, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) proposes to revise the Jan. 22, 2012, target compliance date that requires agencies to implement an assessment or management method designed to maintain sign retroreflectivity at or above the established minimum levels. The compliance date for this requirement would be extended to a date two years after the effective date of the Final Rule for this proposed revision of the MUTCD.
This would provide agencies with additional time to implement their chosen assessment or management method. Additionally, the FHWA proposes to make the new compliance date apply only to implementing an assessment or management method for regulatory and warning signs. The requirement in the MUTCD language to implement a method for all types of signs would remain, but there would not be a specific target compliance date for required implementation of the method for signs other than regulatory and warning signs.
The deadline for comments to this Notice of Proposed Amendments was Oct. 31, 2011, and it is recommended that local road agencies stay alert to any official changes. See FHWA’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices website at http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/
Traffic signs have a proven track record of promoting traffic safety, and sign retroreflectivity will persist as a factor in assessing the adequacy of traffic safety. While it is important for road local agencies to stay informed of, and follow, all official changes, it is also wise to continue progress in maintaining sound practices for maintaining sign retroreflectivity.
For more information on how to establish adequate sign management practices, contact the Texas Local Technical Assistance (LTAP) program by calling 979-862-3735 or 800-723-3811. The Texas LTAP program is sponsored by the Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) and operated by the Texas Engineering Extension Service (TEEX). The LTAP website is: teex.org/ltap. H – By William Lowery, P.E., TEEX training specialist.