Obama administration eliminates some traffic sign regulations

Replacing certain signs by 2018 would be too huge of a financial burden on cities, counties

Transportation Management News U.S. DOT August 30, 2011
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U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced on Aug. 30 that the Obama administration is eliminating dozens of burdensome regulations on traffic signs which cash-strapped state and local governments expect will save them millions of dollars. The U.S. DOT is proposing that communities replace traffic signs when they are worn out rather than requiring signs to be replaced by a specific deadline. The proposed changes will eliminate 46 deadlines mandated by federal traffic-control regulations.

In January, President Obama called for an unprecedented government-wide review of regulations already on the books. The purpose was to identify rules that needed to be changed or removed because they were unnecessary, out of date, excessively burdensome or overly costly.

“A specific deadline for replacing street signs makes no sense and would have cost communities across America millions of dollars in unnecessary expenses,” said LaHood. “After speaking with local and state officials across the country, we are proposing to eliminate these burdensome regulations. It’s just plain common sense.”

FHWA issued a Notice of Proposed Amendments to eliminate 46 of the deadlines in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

“Local and state transportation agencies are best equipped to determine when they need to replace signs and other items in the course of their daily work,” said FHWA Administrator Victor Mendez. “We are proposing these changes to give them the flexibility they need to balance their many responsibilities and make the best use of taxpayer dollars.”

The deadlines requiring that certain street name signs be replaced by 2018 to meet minimum retroreflectivity standards and requiring larger lettering on those street name signs are among the series of deadlines eliminated under the amendment proposed. The proposal would also eliminate deadlines for increasing the size of various traffic signs, such as “Pass With Care” and “ONE WAY,” as well as warning signs, such as “Low Clearance” and “Advance Grade Crossing.” Instead, communities will be able to replace and upgrade these signs when they reach the end of their useful life.

The DOT has retained 12 deadlines for sign upgrades that are critical to public safety. These safety-critical sign upgrades include installing “ONE WAY” signs at intersections with divided highways or one-way streets and requiring “STOP” or “YIELD” signs to be added at all railroad crossings that don’t have train-activated automatic gates or flashing lights.

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