VALPARAISO | The city's sign crew has begun looking into the issue of sign clutter.
According to a recent inventory of all the street signs by Geospan, the city has more than 6,000 signs informing people of everything from speed limits and parking restrictions to stops, yields, one-ways and directional indicators as well as street names. And the city's Traffic and Safety Committee approves more signs almost every month.
Public Works Director Matt Evans told the committee on Tuesday the two-man sign crew started looking at the sign clutter to see if there are any that can be eliminated or combined with others to reduce the roadside reading distractions for motorists.
Geospan drove all the city's streets in vehicles equipped with cameras to provide a street level depiction of what exists. The company also did an inventory of all the street signs to show where they are located, what type of sign each is, the types of poles they are mounted on and when each was last serviced.
Evans said recent changes to the sign regulations by the Federal Highway Administration set standards for the reflectivity of stop and speed limit signs so they are visible at night in vehicle headlights. The street crew is checking the city's signs to make sure they meet the requirement to have a method for replacement done by the June 13, 2014 deadline.
"The reflective sheeting does diminish over time, and we need to address that," he said. "If there is an accident, we will be able to go back and have a record of the sign's condition to protect us from liability. We're trying to be proactive to get this done."
Evans said the crew started in the Hilltop neighborhood because it is the oldest and has accumulated the most signs over the years. He estimated it could take a year or more to review every sign in the city because the crew still has to do its regular duties of installing and removing signs.
Although the reflectivity has to be checked by actually driving around the city at night to test the signs, checking the status of the other signs can be done by sitting down at a computer and running the Geospan film, almost like a video game. Replacing a stop sign costs about $35.
"For us to start now to address this, we hope to be ahead of the curve," Evans said.