The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is easing regulations that would have required state and local governments to replace millions of dollars worth of street signs. Now, instead of having to replace the signs by a certain deadline, governments can wait until the signs are worn out and need to be replaced.

The regulations that established deadlines for street and traffic sign replacement were part of an update of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), which is a compilation of national standards for all pavement markings, street signs and traffic signals. The regulations require that certain street name signs meet minimum retroreflectivity standards and feature larger lettering. On Aug. 30, U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced an amendment to the rules that would eliminate 46 deadlines for meeting the MUTCD standards, including the 2018 deadline for replacing non-compliant street signs. Instead, communities will be allowed to replace and upgrade the signs when they reach the end of their useful life.

When the MUTCD changes were approved in 2007 and 2009, many local government officials expressed concern that meeting the new standards would further stretch state and local government budgets that were suffering from the recession. LaHood has shared those concerns. "A specific deadline for replacing street signs makes no sense and would have cost communities across America millions of dollars in unnecessary expenses," he said. "After speaking with local and state officials across the country, we are proposing to eliminate these burdensome regulations. It's just plain common sense."

The DOT has retained 12 deadlines for sign upgrades that are critical to public safety, including installing "one way" signs at intersections with divided highways or one-way streets, and requiring stop or yield signs to be added at all railroad crossings that do not have train-activated automatic gates or flashing lights.

For the next two months, the Federal Highway Administration is accepting public comments on the proposed amendment to delay the MUTCD deadlines at

Read LaHood's entire press release.

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