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Replacing signs a major task, expense

Change in standards could take three years to meet, cost $100,000

Staff writer

There are about 1,000 road intersections that Marion County is responsible for marking with signs, and the county will eventually have to replace all of the signs with larger ones, Traffic Sign Supervisor Dennis Maggard told the county commission on Thursday.

A change in federal regulations will require road name signs to have letters 6 inches tall. County signs currently have 4-inch letters.

In July 2009, Interim Road and Bridge Supervisor John Summerville said the regulations go into effect in May 2012. Having all the signs replaced before then isn’t going to happen, Maggard said.

“You’re not going to get it all in a year’s time,” he said.

He said he didn’t know of any consequences for not immediately meeting the new standards.

Maggard received a price quote from a company that makes signs. He said signs for numbered roads would cost about $37. Signs for named roads will probably cost an average of $50. With the cost of hardware to install the signs, he estimated the cost at $100 per intersection.

Commissioner Randy Dallke raised the possibility of mounting the named road signs vertically, to reduce wind damage to signs.

That might be impractical, Maggard said, because the bottom of the sign has to be 5 feet above the ground or more. Placing the signs vertically would require significantly taller posts.

Additionally, wind damage isn’t a frequent problem with road signs. Maggard said 80 percent of the signs the county has to replace are lost to vandalism and theft.

Commission Chairman Roger Fleming asked whether the larger signs would be required at every intersection, even where one dirt road meets another. Maggard said the requirement is uniform for all roads.

“One size fits all,” commissioner Dan Holub said.

Dallke asked Maggard what he would do about putting signs on Mustang Road. The county can scarcely get a “MUSTANG” sign up before it is stolen.

Maggard said he would prefer not to replace the signs.

The road runs almost the entire length of the county, from 10th Road to 370th Road, with the exception of where it would cross Marion Reservoir. Yet Maggard estimated that no more than three signs remain.

The county has an allotment of federal funds that could be exchanged with the state for a 90 percent return. Those funds could then be used for the project.

Dallke said he would plan to set aside about $130,000 of that money for the project. Fleming asked Maggard to prepare bid specifications to send to sign makers.

The commission also instructed Road and Bridge Interim Superintendent John Summerville to prepare a bid package for chip sealing 290th Road between Lincolnville and Durham as a federal funds exchange program.

At Summerville’s request, the commission met in closed session for 10 minutes to discuss personnel wages. On return to open session, the commission approved increasing Summerville’s pay by $1.70 per hour and Interim Road Foreman Bud Druse’s pay by $1.60 per hour. The increases are for the extra duties of their interim positions and are retroactively effective to June 21.

Last modified Aug. 18, 2011

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