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4 FHWA has not responded to the comments. For the latest nearby control roads experienced an increase in crashes of information, see http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/): 27%. The sign enhancement program cost the county about $79,000 and it was estimated that the crash reduction savings · January 2012: Implementation and continued use of ranged from $12.6 to $23.7 million. an assessment or management method that is designed to maintain traffic sign retroreflectivity at or above the established minimum levels. Synthesis Objective · January 2015: Replacement of regulatory, warning, and An agency will essentially be in compliance with the new post-mounted guide (except street name) signs that are MUTCD minimum sign retroreflectivity standard if they have identified as failing. a method in place and can demonstrate that they are acting · January 2018: Replacement of street name signs and in good faith to implement that method. FHWA acknowl overhead guide signs that are identified as failing. edges that an agency would be in compliance even if there With regard to the first compliance date, the 2009 MUTCD are some individual signs that do not meet the minimum states "Public agencies or officials having jurisdiction shall retroreflectivity levels at a particular point in time (1). For use an assessment or management method that is designed to the most part, the key element is selecting and implementing maintain sign retroreflectivity at or above the minimum lev a suitable method to maintain traffic sign retroreflectivity. els" (1). Traditionally, each agency manages and maintains Many public agencies have been aware of the approaching its traffic signs in a manner that best accommodates their spe compliance dates for some time. There are proactive state cific conditions, resources, and priorities. For this reason, the and local entities that have acceptable methods in place and MUTCD allows for the flexibility to select and modify one or already meet one or more of the mandates, whereas others more methods to best fit the needs of each entity. are just beginning to identify a suitable sign replacement method. There is a great deal of knowledge and expertise that The second and third compliance dates deal with the can be derived from such proactive agencies and it is impor replacement of existing signs that are below the minimum tant to assess how certain methods have been implemented levels. Each agency will encounter different circumstances and to what degree of success. when addressing these two compliance dates. Some proactive agencies may have few signs to replace, while others may The objective of this synthesis study was to provide exam have to replace a large portion of their sign population. A ples of effective practices that illustrate how agencies can recent study by Opiela and Andersen (2007) estimated that meet the retroreflectivity requirements, and also to document the two compliance mandates will cost the nation approxi the state of the practice and make the results available to assist mately $37.5 million (6). It is estimated that the 2015 compli other agencies that are exploring different methods for main ance will cost state and local agencies $5 and $11.5 million, taining sign retroreflectivity. Key issues will also uncover respectively, and the 2018 compliance requirements will cost gaps in knowledge, determine future needs, and identify new $6.8 and $14.2 million, respectively. At a more focused level, areas of research. the Indiana Local Technical Assistance Program (LTAP) Center conducted a similar study, which calculated that the Study Approach state would need $14.2 million to bring all public roadway signs into compliance (7). Information for this synthesis study was acquired from three distinct sources: published research, existing guidance and Initial findings concerning the benefits of upgrading signs policy, and telephone surveys. Initially, a literature review appear to justify the costs. A demonstration project was car of research was conducted. Most of the research dealt with ried out recently in Mendocino County, California (8, 9). The scientific and structured studies, and most of these research county is located in Northern California and the transportation studies had definitive results and clear recommendations, such authority at the time was responsible for maintaining approxi as documenting vandalism rates or evaluating retro reflectivity mately 1,000 centerlines. Over a three-year period, the county technology. The second source of information included Inter improved the current sign inventory by using two different net websites, agency newsletters, or past PowerPoint presenta approaches. The first approach addressed sign placement and tions. Two examples were the Washington State Department uniformity by conforming to state standards. The county tar of Transportation's (DOT) Traffic Sign Retroreflectivity geted signing at locations with safety concerns and eliminated website and Minnesota DOT's Traffic Sign Maintenance/ all nonstandard signing. The second approach upgraded all Management Handbook. Although the research and existing ASTM D4956 Type I signs with Type III signs. The combina guidelines were vital components for this synthesis study, the tion of more uniform signing practices and brighter sheeting majority of the information came from telephone surveys. materials has reduced traffic crashes. The county analyzed 19 Appendix A contains a list of useful resources for agencies just different roadways over a six-month period. County roadways starting to acquire a familiarity with the sign retroreflectivity with enhanced signing saw a 42% reduction in crashes, whereas requirements.
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5 Survey Design came from specific requests. Presentations were also made at different meetings, such as National Committee on Uniform The primary focus of this synthesis study was conducting Traffic Control Devices, TRB, and American Traffic Safety telephone surveys. The goal of the surveys was to identify Services Association to generate interest in the project. Ulti what methods have been implemented and which have shown mately, surveys were e-mailed to different list groups and promise. The survey questions were designed to facilitate and municipal organizations to solicit participants. Candidate engage the study participants in a more structured discussion response rate and survey participants are discussed later in of sign practices at his or her agency. The survey question the report. naire included 14 main questions most of which were open- ended. In some situations there were follow-up bullets points The survey questions were e-mailed to participants prior if obtaining additional information was pertinent. The major to scheduling a time for an interview; therefore, individuals issues the survey addressed were to identify: had time to prepare their responses. During the telephone survey, the questions served as a guide for a general discus · The size and scale of the agency's traffic sign activities, sion about traffic sign issues and practices. The discussion · How proactive the agency has been with sign replacement, could periodically deviate from the question list if the par · General opinions and apprehensions about the MUTCD ticipant had important information to share or if there was retroreflectivity requirements, any additional follow-up inquiry. Notes obtained from the · How their method complies with the MUTCD and why survey participants were compiled and beneficial informa it was selected, tion was documented. · How their method functions and the major operational advantages, and · Challenges encountered in the implementation process Organization of Report and lessons learned. The first chapter lays the foundation for the succeeding Appendix B contains a copy of the survey questions and material by describing the purpose of the study, states over the telephone script that was read to the participants about the all objectives, and explains the methodology to achieve its purpose of the survey. One goal of the survey was to obtain goals. Chapter two presents basic information on the differ a wide range of participants. The survey participants needed ent assessment and management sign methods outlined in the to reflect various situations throughout the country such as MUTCD. The majority of the survey participants' informa differing agency size, regional climate, population density, tion is contained in chapter three, and chapter four includes and environmental conditions. Targeted survey participants four selected Case Studies that expand on useful strategies. included local agencies (cities, towns, and counties), state Chapter five summarizes the effective practices and chapter DOTs, LTAP centers, and private organizations. At the onset six describes areas where information is needed and sug of the study, a list of possible survey candidates was estab gestions for possible future research. Finally, chapter seven lished, some of which came from Topic Panel recommen concludes by summarizing key findings from chapters two dations and from personal contacts; however, the majority through six.