The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is eliminating regulations that would have required state and local governments to replace millions of dollars worth of street signs. The changes mean that communities can replace signs “when they are worn out rather than requiring signs to be replaced by a specific date,” according to the DOT.

The relaxed regulations finalize a process that began last August, when U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood announced a proposed amendment to eliminate some deadlines for street and traffic sign replacement. The regulations 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.

The new regulations 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.

“Some of these burdensome deadlines would have cost communities millions of dollars at a time when they can’t afford that,” LaHood said. “We spoke to state and local officials across the county, and we heard them loud and clear.”

The DOT has retained 12 deadlines for sign upgrades deemed 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.

The final rule, FHWA-2010-0159, eliminating the 46 MUTCD deadlines, has been sent to the Federal Register for publication. It is available at www.regulations.gov.