Florida’s St. Lucie County includes the cities of Fort Pierce, Port St. Lucie and St. Lucie, and has a population of 278,000. The St. Lucie County Road and Bridge Division is responsible for providing maintenance and reconstructing county drainage facilities, roadways and traffic signs and signals.
Until recently, the 688-square-mile county was strictly reactionary with respect to its signs. Officials had no information about the condition of the county’s traffic signs, so it was very difficult to develop a maintenance plan. When county workers or citizens called to report damaged or missing signs, the signs were promptly repaired or replaced, but it was impractical to have employees drive around to inspect signs.
In 2005, four hurricanes struck St. Lucie County, damaging or destroying an estimated one-third to one-half of the county’s traffic signs. When crews began replacing the signs, no one knew how many there should be or what type of sign belonged where. When Gene Snedeker, traffic operations supervisor, was asked how many signs were lost, he admitted the department had no idea.
“Often we knew we had a stop sign in a location, but we didn’t know how long it had been there or what condition it was in,” said Snedeker.
At a seminar in Orlando, Snedeker learned how 3M’s sign-management system can report the number, type and location of signs within an agency’s jurisdiction. Officials can use the system to assess and manage an agency’s traffic-sign inventory for compliance with the Federal Highway Administration’s (FHWA) standards, and keep the sign inventory current.
The day after his crew received training on the 3M sign-management system, they were using it effectively and it quickly became their routine. The system is intuitive and it takes less time to keep their records on the computer than the paper records they previously used.
According to Snedeker, one of the best things about the system is having pictures, the location and condition of every sign in the county ready for after the next big hurricane hits. His crews are excited about having this new tool, and they actually use the system before work to get ready for the day.