STREET SIGNS: COMPLIANCE DEADLINES FOR CERTAIN FONT AND RETROREFLECTIVITY REQUIREMENTS

The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) proposed various new rules over recent months related to traffic sign requirements in the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD).  Confusion has resulted from misleading reports from different agencies regarding the proposed rules as they relate to sign retroreflectivity and sign font.  While some changes are currently being proposed, certain deadlines have not changed:

Font:  The 2009 MUTCD – the most current edition of the MUTCD – requires a mix of upper-case and lower-case letters for street name and other guide signs.  The requirements apply when signs are replaced because of normal wear and tear.

In 2000, the MUTCD added a recommendation for minimum letter heights on street name signs.  Agencies were required to decide by January 9, 2012, whether or not to use the recommended letter height or use an engineering study or engineering judgment to decide that a smaller letter height is acceptable.

In 2003, the MUTCD added a recommendation for letter heights of street name signs on multilane roads with speed limits greater than 40 mph.   Agencies must evaluate and decide by December 22, 2018, whether or not to use the recommended letter heights or us an engineering study or engineering judgment to decide that a smaller letter height is acceptable.

Retroreflectivity: In 2007, the MUTCD added certain deadlines to implement minimum levels of retroreflectivity:

  1. By January 22, 2012, a plan must be adopted to ensure that signs meet minimum levels of retroreflectivity by the dates in (1) and (2), below.
  2. By January 22, 2015, regulatory, warning, and certain post-mounted signs must meet retroreflectivity requirements.
  3. By January 22, 2018, overhead and street name signs must meet retroreflectivity requirements.

Detailed information on current requirements and proposed rules is available at http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/.  


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