Chattanooga nears deadline to change traffic signs - | Chattanooga News, Weather & Sports

Chattanooga nears deadline to change traffic signs

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It's been a long time coming, but in just 6 months, all city traffic signs will have to be of a new type, easier to read type, better reflectivity, longer lasting. It's a federally mandated project Chattanooga's been working on for at least the last 5 years.  But with the clock ticking, how will they get the job completed?

Uncle Sam set out in 1992 to establish new, uniform standards for signage. And after years of delays, the deadline for cities to comply is some 6 months away.  
With hundreds of signs across the scenic city that need to be inventoried and replaced, that will be quite the undertaking.

Transportation administrator Blythe Bailey told council members, if the city does it, the chore would require a significant number of hires for a short period of time. Not feasible. "It's a perfect project for a contractor who can come in and do the work and be done with it."

Estimated price $300,000.  We visited the city sign shop back in 2008 when new signage, with new technology, began going up.

'Reflective' was out, 'prismatic' is in.

Ben Taylor, traffic engineer, "The prismatic has tiny microscopic prisms embedded in the sheeting which grabs the light and bounces it back.  And it's just a huge difference in the amount of retro-reflectivity going back to the driver's eyes."

It's more expensive. At that time the roll of reflective ran around $200.  The roll of the new prismatic was at $1,400.  But, taking the long view it gives signs a longer life span, and it's effective.

3rd district councilman Ken Smith says the body will study the proposed expenditure, "I think they're going to go back and look at it a little closer and just make sure that that is the amount that we expect it to cost."

But, he adds, it's something that has to be done. "It really goes back to safety. It's not, 'Hey, let's go find something to spend money on. It looks like our signs are getting a little ratty.' It's not that. It's literally, if people cannot see our signs, they are not doing their job. When you think about something like a stop sign, that's critically important for us to take care of."

The deadline for sign inventory and replacement is May of 2014.


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