Category:903 Highway Signing

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Highway signs are directly related to the design of the highway and effectively provide travelers with information needed to safely and efficiently complete trips. Signs must have uniformity of meaning. Excessive and inadequate signing can cause traveler confusion.

Highway Signing Information
College Signing Qualification List
Contact Information
Missouri TODS and Logos Contacts
D-28, Sign Design Order Form
Memorial Highway/Bridge Naming
Memorial Highway Naming Application
Missouri Logos and Missouri TODS pamphlets
Approved Products List
Product Evaluation Form
Route Marking
AASHTO Application Form
Sign Contracts
Contract Forms
■ Specifications for Signing:
Sec 903 Sec 1042
■ Standard Plans for Signing:
Std. Plan 903.01 Std. Plan 903.02
Std. Plan 903.03 Std. Plan 903.04
Std. Plan 903.05 Std. Plan 903.06
Std. Plan 903.07 Std. Plan 903.08
Std. Plan 903.10 Std. Plan 903.12
Std. Plan 903.60
■ TR15 Process
■ TR15-C Process
TR 32, Process for Renewal – Supplemental Signing Agreement
■ TR42 Process for Others
■ TR47 Process for Wayfinding
Sign Management System Sign Catalog
Signpost Selection Guide
Tour of the MoDOT Sign Shop

There are many aspects to be considered when inspecting construction quality and this article provides construction inspection guidelines, material inspection guidelines and laboratory testing guidelines.

Types of highway signing include guide,regulatory, warning, specific service signs, tourist-oriented directional, recreational and cultural interest and emergency management. There are also conventional road guide signs as well as freeway and expressway guide signs. Signing for school areas must often be addressed as well as signing for railroad and light rail transit grade crossings and signing for bicycle facilities.

This article outlines procedures for the preparation of contract signing plans. Before beginning sign selection or location, the following are to be reviewed: this article, the guidelines of the MUTCD and FHWA's Standard Highway Signs manual. It is important to use standard sign design and layouts in order to provide consistent signing throughout the state of Missouri. The districts are responsible for proper review of signing plans for accuracy, to ensure standards are met and deviations from the standards are justified.

The need for uniform standards was recognized long ago. The American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHO), now known as the American Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), published a manual for rural highways in 1927, and the National Conference on Street and Highway Safety (NCSHS) published a manual for urban streets in 1930. In the early years, the necessity for unification of the standards applicable to the different classes of road and street systems was obvious. To meet this need, a joint committee of AASHO and NCSHS developed and published the original edition of the MUTCD in 1935. That committee, now called the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD), though changed from time to time in name, organization, and personnel, has been in continuous existence and has contributed to periodic revisions of this article. The FHWA has administered the MUTCD since the 1971 edition. The FHWA and its predecessor organizations have participated in the development and publishing of the previous editions. There were eight previous editions of the MUTCD, and several of those editions were revised one or more times.

The U.S. Secretary of Transportation, under authority granted by the Highway Safety Act of 1966, decreed that traffic control devices on all streets and highways open to public travel in accordance with 23 U.S.C. 109(d) and 402(a) in each state shall be in substantial conformance with the Standards issued or endorsed by the FHWA.

23 CFR 655.603 adopts the MUTCD as the national standard for any street, highway, or bicycle trail open to public travel in accordance with 23 U.S.C. 109(d) and 402(a). The “Uniform Vehicle Code (UVC)” is one of the publications referenced in the MUTCD. The UVC contains a model set of motor vehicle codes and traffic laws for use throughout the United States. States are encouraged to adopt Section 15-116 of the UVC that states, “No person shall install or maintain in any area of private property used by the public any sign, signal, marking, or other device intended to regulate, warn, or guide traffic unless it conforms with the State manual and specifications adopted under Section 15-104.”

Economic activity such as tourism can be encouraged by proper signage

The standards, guidance, options and support material described in this article provide the transportation professional with the information needed to make appropriate decisions regarding the use of traffic control devices on streets and highways. The material in this edition provides standards that must be satisfied for the particular circumstances of a situation, guidance that is to be followed for the particular circumstances of a situation and options that may be applicable for the particular circumstances of a situation.

Except when a specific numeral is required by an EPG 903 Highway Signing article, numerals shown on the sign images in the figures that specify quantities such as times, distances, speed limits and weights should be regarded as examples only. When installing any of these signs, the numerals should be appropriately altered to fit the specific signing situation.

The preliminary layouts of all signs included in the project, along with a completed Sign Design Order Form (Design Form D-28), shall be provided to Traffic so that 30 working days are allowed for review and design to be completed. Each sign shall be identified as an overhead or post-mounted sign. Traffic shall be provided with a date the sign designs need to be returned for review. The return date needs to allow enough time to design and quantify the bases and trusses or posts.

This article also addresses highway signing general information and extent of signing and provides typical signing applications.

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THE INTERSTATE SYSTEM. Signing of all interstate highways is coordinated on a national basis by the MUTCD and Standard Highway Signs.

OTHER HIGHWAYS. Signing of highways other than the interstate system is coordinated on a statewide basis by MoDOT and the MUTCD.

MoDOT 5-Year Plan for Signing – Practical Operations

Highway signing was identified as one of the major cost drivers in MoDOT operations and was extensively evaluated to identify ways to reduce cost and waste while maintaining our signs in good condition. Cost-saving strategies involve manufacturing, shipping, warehousing, installing and the signs' materials.

It was determined the MoDOT Sign Production Center (SPC) should discontinue the fabrication of any product that did not relate directly to the roadways or support a key MoDOT operation. This change in direction was required to allow the SPC to dramatically cut its operating budget without compromising its ability to provide quality highway signing.

Guidance for managing sign material inventories

  • Typically only 2 to 3 of each priority one sign and their posts shall be maintained at any given building. Usage history should be used to determine the appropriate number for each location.
  • The majority of sign and post inventories need to be located at a centralized distribution point, typically the district sign shop or district warehouse. Post and signs can be picked up from a central location to complete work orders. Centralizing resources makes it easier to manage the inventory for the district and reduces the on hand inventory significantly.
  • Before a sign or post is ordered as a new product, the district inventory must first be checked to determine if those materials exist in stock. If the materials are not in stock and the need is urgent, attempts should be made to locate those materials in the inventories of the neighboring districts before placing a rush order for fabrication.
  • Other than knock downs and damage repair, sign work should be planned in advance. Signs and other materials should be ordered at a rate that matches the capacity to install the signs to avoid inventory buildup. While signs acquired for specific purposes may not truly be “inventory”, they do represent resources that are not being used unless they are installed. The likelihood of signs becoming damaged or misplaced, increase with long term storage and also places an undue demand on the district warehouse and SPC.
  • Communication between those who install, warehouse and manufacture the signs as well as between other districts is critical to minimize waste and ensure the materials are on hand when they are needed.
  • It is critical when signs are removed from a roadway that they be transported in a timely manner to the Moberly Correctional Facility where they can be used to make new signs. Handling structural panels correctly is especially critical as they cannot be repaired like flat sheet signs. Structural signs should be remove from the post and disassembled, removing all post clamps and taking panels apart. The panels should be nested together for transport to keep them straight and undamaged. The SPC’s ability to utilize reclaimed materials dramatically reduces production costs as well as speeds up production. Reclaimed sign panels are 70% cheaper than new and the prison can supply reclaimed sign material faster than the vendors who supply new signs panels. It is to be emphasized that:
Incorrectly stored and transported signs result in damaged and unusable panels,
Correctly disassembled structural signs will ensure maximum reclamation and
Extruded panels damaged beyond use do not need to be sent to reclamation facility.

Practical Operations for signing also re-evaluates signing practices. A number of signs have been identified as ”unnecessary” or “limited use”, as compared to MoDOT’s current application processes. Guidance has been updated to reflect these changes for:

1. Tourist Information Centers
2. General Service Signing
3. Lake Road Signs
4. Supplemental Plaques for Keep Right / Left
5. Supplemental Plaque below Divided Highway
6. Supplemental Plaque below Two-Way Traffic
7. Limited Access / Controlled Access
8. Dip and Bump Warning Signs
9. Slippery When Wet Warning Signs
10. State Maintenance Begins
11. State Law – School Bus Stop
12. Deer / Goose Crossing
13. Equestrian Crossing
14. Falling Rock
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15. Emergency Dial *55
16. Buckle Up
17. No Texting
18. Hit a Worker
19. Roadside Parks, Tables, Scenic View Historic Markers
20. General Aviation Airport
21. Community Boards
22. Emergency Vehicle Entrance
23. Cross Road Street Name Signs for No Access Crossovers
24. No More Trash / Fine
25. Historic Downtown

Other signs that have been identified as unnecessary or to have limited use, but do not currently have EPG guidance, are:

1. Center for Developmentally Disabled – no new signs will be fabricated and existing signs will remain in place until the sign reaches the end of its life cycle.
2. Interstate Route Conformation Route Shields – With the implementation of the Emergency Reference Markers on interstates that display the route shield, it has been determined that the normal confirmation route marker installed following each on-ramp to an interstate is no longer needed. Existing signs will remain in place until the end of their life cycle.
3. Outlet Mall Signing – Signs to malls and outlet malls have been installed in the past to facilitate traffic management. Locations where these management issues no longer exist should have these references removed at the end of the sign life cycle.
4. Outer Road Signs – Outer road signing was installed as a form of route marking. The US Postal Service for mailing addresses along these routes utilized the outer road designation. Local jurisdictions are commonly placing street names over the outer roads for 911 purposes and to simply for local recognition. When this occurs, the mailing addresses typically change and refer to the street name. Once this occurs, our outer road signing is no longer required and the signs can be removed once they reach the end of their life cycle.
5. Amtrak Web Address Signs - In an attempt to promote Missouri Rail service, Multimodal Operations requested the installation of Amtrak Rail Service signs with a web address. These signs will be removed at the end of their life cycle.
6. Tune Radio To… - There have been locations where signs instruct motorists to turn their radio to a particular station to receive local information. These signs will be removed at the end of their life cycle or at the end of their contract should there be one. If the District Engineer determines that this information is critical for the motorist the signs can be remanufactured, however, the sponsor of the signs will be required to enter into a TR-15 contract and be held responsible for the associated cost to install and maintain the sign.
7. Employee Name Signs - In the past, the names of the Resident Engineers, Area Engineers and Maintenance Superintendants have been displayed outside of MoDOT project offices. Every time a position was vacated and filled the signs were remade with the new name of the individual. This signing will be discontinued and existing signs removed when they reach the end of their life cycle.
8. The Steer It / Clear It – These signs were developed to help educate the public of the new law. These signs will be removed once they reach the end of their life cycle. Signs may remain or be installed at specific locations if the District Engineer determines their presence is critical for traffic management.
9. Medical Helipad Signs – These signs provide no informational or safety benefit to the traveling public. Existing signs will be removed at the end of their life cycle and no new signs installed.

Guidance for Using Sign Management System (SMS)

History. MoDOT has a long history of maintaining an inventory of signs located along its roadways and inspecting signs utilizing this database. MoDOT’s original database was housed on a mainframe computer and sign logs were done on paper. The first computer based system was implemented in the early 2000s and was utilized until 2012 when it was replaced with Sign Management System (SMS), our current system. SMS was developed as a cradle-to-grave sign management system to manage field inventories, but also to manage sign ordering, work orders and warehouse management. Maintenance Management System (MMS) is in early development, but is expected, at later phases, to incorporate and possibly replace portions of SMS.

Support. SMS has six major components. Details on each component and their specific use can be found in a wiki link and user manuals located on the SMS home page. While the sign catalog is accessible by any MoDOT employee, all other components require a STARTS request to gain access. The STARTS request is granted based on the level of access needed for the user’s role in signing and is approved by TS. The following are the six major components of SMS:

  • Sign catalog
  • Sign ordering
  • Field inventory
  • Sign inspection
  • Work orders
  • Warehouse management

Sign Catalog is the heart of the SMS. It contains the signs and sizes of signs from the MUTCD, and any MoDOT-specific signs used on MoDOT roadways. The information in the catalog is used to populate the sign field inventory for each sign assembly record. The data in the catalog is also used by the sign ordering system to populate the critical fields needed to generate a purchase order.

Sign Ordering must be used to acquire signs for maintenance operations. This system is made up of a requisition component where sign requests are generated by field crews. These requisitions are sent to the district’s parent sign warehouse where it is either filled from the warehouse inventory, or the request is added to a vendor order. The vendor order component compiles sign requests and then interfaces with the state Financial Management System (FMS) to generate a purchase order. This component is required to be used in order to acquire signs from MoDOT’s sign manufacturer. See EPG 903.3.3 Mounting Height for guidance on sign ordering.

Field Inventory is the component of SMS which contains records for locations of all signs located on MoDOT right of way, including signs MoDOT does not maintain. This component of SMS must be used to inventory all signs on MoDOT right of way. These records are in terms of "sign assemblies" or a record of a sign support and all of the signs that are mounted on that support. Sign supports can be one of MoDOT’s typical ground-mounted sign posts or the variety of overhead sign mounting structures. Details for each sign assembly can be recorded in this system, including, but not limited to the number of posts, type of post, type of overhead sign structure, sign location (left, overhead, right) and mounting height. The history of each assembly and each sign on each assembly can also be recorded in this system, including but not limited to sign installation date, repair date and inspection date. The only piece of data which is automatically recorded for an assembly record is the inspection history from the inspection component of the system. As with any database, the quality and accuracy of the data available is directly related to the accuracy and management of the data entered into the system. There are many fields for data available for each assembly record, some fields are required and others are optional.

At a minimum an assembly record must include:

  • District
  • County
  • Travelway ID
  • Maintained By and Org Code
  • GPS sign location (recorded from the travel lane)
  • Sign number/code
  • Support type (post or structure)
  • Post / Structure Type
  • Orientation of sign to the roadway.

Optional fields, but recommended as bests practices include:

  • Sign legend, for variable message signs
  • Number of posts
  • Post offset from the roadway
  • Footing type
  • Breakaway.

Sign Inspection must be conducted utilizing the sign inspection tool of SMS. This component is referenced as the "client tool" as it is one of the few components of SMS that is not web-based. The inspection tool is a software component of SMS loaded on individual laptops allowing field inventory data and TMS data to be loaded on the machine. Once on the laptop, the system can be operated independent of a network connection to inspect and update field inventories. Once an inspection is completed and/or inventory is updated, the data must be uploaded back to the web-based system to update the primary database.

Work Orders are used in SMS to process the work generated by sign inspections. Work orders are auto-generated when a deficiency is identified during an inspection. Once generated, a work order must be reviewed, approved and assigned to the appropriate crew. Once the work is completed, the work order must be closed. The identification of the deficiencies and the completion of the work order create the history of the correction in each record. The work order system can be used for any sign work conducted outside of inspections, but it is not a required use for this application.

Warehouse Management is a component of SMS whose use is optional. This system was created as a user interface for FMS to offer more options in viewing and managing sign inventories. The system was designed to permit warehouse managers to establish minimum inventory levels / order points as well as maximum inventory levels. To help promote the use of excess inventory statewide, the system was designed to show the inventory for any sign with an inventory greater than the maximum set by the manager as "excess" so other districts could see availability. The tool is also designed to give managers the ability to reserve part of their inventory for special projects so these would not appear as excess.

Training Document
Sign Log Inspection Guidance, March 2013
Sign Log Inspection Criteria
Signs made of steel, non-extruded panel structural signs, or wood substrate and signs made with engineer grade sheeting and button copy should be replaced due to age.
Flat Sheet Signs
Signs must be visible and legible from approximately 300 ft. (based on Note 1 in Table 903.6.6 Guidelines for Advance Placement of Warning Sign). Signs not visible at this distance due to:
  • Obscured by vegetation: trim the vegetation
  • Low or no retroreflectivity: replace the sign
  • Paintballs, gun shots or other vandalism: replace the sign
Structural Signs (Extruded Panel Substrate)
Signs must be visible and legible from a minimum of approximately 300 ft. on two-lane roadways and 600 ft. on multilane highways (based on 30 ft. visibility for every 1 in. of legend height – EPG 903.2.24). Signs not visible at these distances due to:
  • Obscured by vegetation: trim the vegetation
  • Low or no retroreflectivity: replace the sign
  • Paintballs, gun shots or other vandalism: replace the sign
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  • Posts that are visibly out of plumb from the driver’s seat to a degree that the general public would notice: plumb or replace sign post.
  • Posts that are oriented in a fashion that they do not support the sign perpendicular to the roadway: repair or replace post to properly orient sign.
  • Wood posts that are twisted and/or warped that result in the sign not being held perpendicular to the travelway or properly oriented in a level position: replace post.
  • Short posts that fail to support signs 5 ft. above the driving surface on two-lane roadways and 7 ft. above roadway inside city limits or on freeways or expressways (does not include object markers, chevrons, supplemental plaques or any other special sign mounting criteria): modify or replace post to acquire proper mounting height.
  • Post that support signs properly above driving surface, but less than 5 ft. above ground at installation point need to be modified or replaced to acquire proper mounting height
  • Structural posts #3 through #6 that are closer than 7 ft. from one another (to meet federal breakaway standards): replace posts and footings.
Inspection Practices
  • Signs shall be inspected 1 hour after sunset and at least 1 hour prior to sunrise to ensure complete darkness
  • Signs shall be inspected with low beam headlights
  • Keep interior lights off so eyes are acclimated to darkness (dim lights are OK to illuminate computer keyboard)
  • Once frost and/or dew begin to settle on the signs (thus affecting retroreflectivity), discontinue inspections
  • Signs on side streets shall be inspected by driving the side street approaching the sign
  • The sign legend and background colors should be recognizable both day and night (for example, a guide sign's white legend should be clearly visible and the background should be recognizable as green). If not, replace the sign.
  • If inspection takes place after leaves have dropped and tree limbs fall within the view of the sign, but do not obscure sign: trim limbs to account for the time when leaves will regrow
  • Inspection vehicles should be typical cars, SUVs or pickups, 2002 or newer
  • Two-person inspection crews for safety
  • Inspection conducted from travel lane (not shoulder) and conducted at normal travel speed
  • Headlights should be cleaned before inspection begins. Clouded or hazed lenses should be polished
  • Headlights should be checked to ensure they are properly aimed