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27 chapter five Effective Practices The effective practices identified by this study are presented Visual Nighttime Inspection here. They are presented as general sign practices and then for each sign retroreflectivity maintenance method. In addi- FHWA intends for agencies to use one or more of the tion, Appendix D contains common questions, myths, and sign inspection procedures documented in Maintain- answers associated with the new minimum sign retroreflec- ing Traffic Sign Retroreflectivity (FHWA-SA-07-020) tivity standards in the MUTCD. (14). If none of these procedures are used, an agency must be able to justify the deviation with an engineer- ing study. General Sign Practices For the calibration signs technique, commercial grade or Type I signs could be used. Signs removed from Type I sheeting material can still be used in certain situ- the roadway with known retroreflectivity levels at ations; however, it is more cost-effective to install Type or slightly above the MUTCD minimums could also III or Type IV as a minimum standard. be used. Explore sheeting materials and products that have a It is more effective for inspections to be completed with long service life. The higher cost of materials may be a team of two, if possible, and during favorable weather offset by reduced labor and fewer sign replacements. conditions. Stress the importance of sign assessment to staff dur- It is best to perform nighttime inspections when there ing routine daily maintenance. It is also important to is flexibility or downtime in a staff's schedules. Inspec- monitor such issues as sheeting color, vandalism, and tions must not detract from daily activities and ideally damaged sign posts. the method would supplement and support routine Keep yearly sign maintenance and management practices maintenance. consistent. Routine schedules and operations help to set Inspection intervals or frequencies depend on an agen- a basic level of quality and prevent periods of neglect. cy's capabilities and resources. Prioritize current and future sign replacement if resources Provide written expectations and guidelines for inspec- are limited. Create a list of priorities and address items on the list in descending order such as targeting STOP and tors to follow. Handout materials can document the agen- regulatory signs first, replacing warning signs, and so on. cy's procedures and offer descriptions and examples of Unnecessary signs may be a substantial drain on agency adequate and failed signs. resources and are not to be installed for political rea- Implement training for both new and experienced sons. During sign inspections, assess whether each sign sign inspectors. Agencies may create their own pro- is still needed. grams or participate in courses that are provided by Continue to seek maintenance information from out- the LTAP center or the state DOT. Having done visual side sources such as FHWA, LTAP centers, surround- nighttime inspections does not necessarily equate to ing agencies, conferences, workshops, journal articles, training. professional societies, etc. Require a visual nighttime inspection form that an Identify sign assessment and management strategies agency can utilize to document the sign inspection that your agency could implement in a practical and process. The forms can document such information as efficient manner. the roadway, inspector, date, and signs identified for Create a comprehensive sign plan that addresses exist- replacement. ing and long-term goals. Inspection teams monitor and report any other mainte- Document your sign assessment and management strat- nance issues that are observed during nighttime inspec- egies and be able to demonstrate that you are actively tions. The primary focus is on signs; however, the team implementing your approach in a consistent manner. might also be able to observe pavement markings, delin- Consider providing routine training for employees who eators, and other retroreflective items. deal with sign management and maintenance activities. Quality assurance checks can help to improve the inspec- Continue to reexamine your approach and long-term tion process and provide feedback to sign inspectors. goals. Methods and strategies can be modified to improve Such checks can be completed with a retroreflectometer operations and to better manage resources. or by another impartial sign inspector.