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22 chapter four Case Studies This chapter includes the case studies of four different agen- Clifton Park staff members were proficient and knowledge- cies that participated in the survey. Each case study provides able about basic routine maintenance activities; however, detailed information about the agencies' sign replacement and minimum retroreflectivity requirements were a new issue. management practices. These agencies have implemented Minimum values contained in MUTCD Table 2A.3 were new effective combinations of methods and it was believed that and terms such as observation angle and contrast ratio had providing additional detail to the readers could be beneficial. not been commonly used. To resolve this situation, the town Each case study deals with different geographical and climatic sought outside assistance, by soliciting technical advice from conditions and the agencies were of different sizes and types. regional experts. The Albany and Schenectady area contains many government agencies and Clifton Park staff was able to consult with professionals from the departments of trans- Clifton Park, New York portation and public safety. After investigating the issues and consulting with regional experts, the town was able to obtain Background 402 safety improvement funding and set a course of action. The town of Clifton Park, New York, is in Saratoga County When evaluating the different signing methods offered in and is a small suburban community that lies just north of the the MUTCD, the town gravitated toward approaches that fit Albany and Schenectady metropolitan areas. The town has its resources and expertise. Measured retroreflectivity was about 37,000 residents and the municipal government main- not an option for a small agency such as theirs owing to the tains approximately 200 miles of centerline roadway miles high price of a retroreflectometer and limited staff hours. within a 50 square mile area. For the regional climate, average Similarly, the visual nighttime inspection method was also summer high temperatures are in the 80F range and winter deemed to be too time-consuming, and nighttime work would average lows are in the teens (25, 26). The annual cumula- detract from important daytime activities. The town had expe- tive snowfall is approximately 60 in. per year and the annual rience with GIS and GPS technologies and already possessed cumulative rainfall is about 38 in. At the time of this report, the necessary equipment. Therefore, the town opted to pursue it was estimated that the town maintained approximately a management approach where sign inventory and asset man- 6,000 traffic signs. agement tools would be utilized. Sign Replacement Methods Staff first reviewed several different software products and packages. They found that several commercial systems offered Clifton Park has been diligent with routine sign maintenance too many features that would not be used. On the other hand, and day-to-day sign replacements, but the area has grown some of the LTAP programs were not equipped to handle all significantly within the last decade and the town has annexed of the town's needs. Ultimately, the town selected a local con- many outlying residential developments, presenting some sulting company to help customize a computer-based system challenges for the small community. First, some signs and that would fit its needs. The consultants created a program that posts within the newly incorporated areas differ from the was similar to the town's existing storm water management town's standards, and it was necessary that the signs and system. The program was designed to be very user-friendly equipment be uniform and compliant. The other main chal- with simple drop-down menus and buttons. Throughout the lenge was the difficulty in budgeting and planning, because creation process, the consultants solicited advice and feedback the town did not have an accurate estimate of the number of from its intended users. signs in existing and new areas. Clifton Park planned to use the computer-based system to In 2007, the town began to address its signing issues and manage its sign data for a combined expected sign life and the MUTCD minimum retroreflectivity levels. Despite rou- blanket replacement approach. The town was divided into tine maintenance, some of the signs did not meet the mini- 12 separate regions and signs would be replaced in one of the mum requirements. The changes and sign replacement were regions each year as part of a 12-year replacement cycle. The viewed as an opportunity to improve overall quality; however, town was installing traffic signs with Type IV or higher sheet- the revisions involved additional labor and expertise. The few ing materials. It was acknowledged that such sheeting may last