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As with the U-channel post, sleeve assemblies can be used for the base or slip couplings can be used near the base. These devices will increase the safety of a sign if it is hit and make it easier to repair. After the sign has been hit, the broken stub of the post can be removed from the base sleeve and a new sign post put back in place. This post type is used when it is necessary to support large sign panels, which is common for roadside post-mounted guide signs.

All large steel posts use a breakaway feature, unless protected by barrier or placed out of the clear zone. This is usually accomplished by using a slip base that connects the post to the foundation. When struck, the post slips off the foundation at the bottom, and rotates around the hinge plate below the sign panel. This allows the vehicle to safely pass under the sign after impact.

Car Care Clips - Episode: 7 Preventive Maintenance is the Key

I-beam steel posts with a slip base are needed for larger roadside guide signs. There are many other products available commercially for sign supports. Use depends on local requirements and costs. This publication only shows four of the most common types of small sign supports.

When installing a sign for the first time or as a replacement to an existing sign, the sign technician should be aware of the requirements for its position on the roadside. Signs are positioned longitudinally along the road, laterally from the edge of the road, and vertically above the ground. If a sign replacement is warranted, the sign technician should not assume the original sign was placed correctly. It is important to check the location of the support and the mounting height of the sign above the roadway to ensure the sign is visible and crashworthy.

The longitudinal location of the sign is dictated by the sign type and the specific situation. The figures on the next page represent the recommended height and lateral location as provided in the MUTCD. To obtain maximum retroreflection from traffic signs, yet eliminate specular glare, signs should be correctly aligned. Specular glare is the mirror type reflection characteristic of any glossy surface. Under severe circumstances, such as direct sunlight, specular glare can make the sign legend unreadable.

Often this becomes apparent from driver complaints. To avoid the occurrence of specular glare, signs should be positioned slightly more than perpendicular to the roadway 93 degrees is recommended by sheeting manufacturers.

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When signs are out of proper alignment, they will not be as visible at night. To achieve the desired goal of quality sign maintenance, a comprehensive sign management system should be developed and followed. The elements of a sign management system include:. When these elements are in place and followed, the agency can be assured that the signs on their roads are functional and meet the needs of the road users. An inventory can serve many purposes:.

Inventory systems can be simple manual card systems, but with the availability of several inexpensive and even free computer software packages, computer-based inventories are much more effective and are easy to use. Also by using global positioning systems GPS technology, signs can be easily and accurately located and mapped on geographic information systems GIS.

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Computerized sign inventories are available through sign vendors or your Local Technical Assistance Program. With a computerized sign inventory, the sign technician can easily record data while in the field.

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The key to a successful inventory program is collecting the appropriate data elements and keeping it up to date. Table 3 shows the data elements that should be considered when developing an inventory. Route name, distance, etc.

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Sign dating labels with anti-vandalism warnings can be applied to the back of the sign. Timely detection of and response to maintenance needs are critical elements of an effective sign management system. This can be accomplished through periodic inspections of your signs to ensure they are still there, are needed, and are performing as intended both day and night. When your agency receives notice of any sign deficiency from any of the above methods, it should be recorded and attended to within the appropriate priority for the type of sign involved. In addition to the informal detection methods, the agency's formal inspection program should include:.

A traffic sign can be found deficient for a variety of reasons see Sign Inspection Checklist, on pg 28 , including the degradation of night time visibility.


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There is now a standard in the MUTCD that requires that all agencies have a maintenance program in place by to maintain minimum levels of traffic sign retroreflectivity. Regulatory, warning and many guide signs will need to be replaced when they degrade below the established minimum levels of retroreflectivity presented in Chapter III. Your agency can meet these requirements by having an inspection program that will identify when signs need to be replaced. There are alternative methods for inspecting signs for adequate retroreflectivity levels; they include:. The second and third methods can be effective if the inspector is adequately trained.

The inspection should be done at night. A retroreflectometer can be used to determine if a sign meets or exceeds the minimum required retroreflectivity level. Remember, night reviews are still important. While a sign may appear adequate during the day, it may be non-visible at night. The inspection process just discussed will identify sign and sign support deficiencies that will require appropriate repair or replacement.


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Usually, it is not necessary to clean the sign face as periodic rain will help clean the sign. However, localized conditions, especially in urban areas, may cause the sign to become less visible due to the buildup of dirt, grime, mildew, or mold. Locations where sign cleaning may be warranted include:. Also, before deciding to replace a sign because of observed low night time visibility, the sign life might be extended simply with cleaning. Signs under a tree canopy are often covered with mold left photo which can easily be cleaned right photo, right half of sign.

When cleaning a sign a non-abrasive cleaner free of damaging solvents should be applied with a sponge or soft bristle brush. Pressure sprayers may be used if not sprayed so close to the sign that it would damage the sheeting face. Whatever procedure is followed, it is best to first check with the product supplier and test out any chemical cleaner on a sign in the maintenance yard before use in the field. One of the common deficiencies found during an inspection is partial or full blockage of the sign by roadside vegetation.

During the spring and summer seasons, fast growing weeds can quickly cover a sign as will tree branches and brush. If sign inspections are done during these seasons, these situations should be readily identified. And, if the technician has suitable equipment, it can be rectified during the inspection. The warning sign circled is only partially visible in the spring. By mid-summer, it will be completely hidden by vegetation.

Unfortunately, signs are occasionally stolen for any number of reasons. This can be avoided by making it difficult to remove a sign and by enacting laws to penalize vandals. Specific fasteners can be used to attach signs to support posts which make it far more difficult for vandals to remove sign panels. Among the more common special fasteners in use are:.

Preventive maintenance activities that deal with the entire sign to include the sign support, include:. When a traffic sign requires repeated maintenance, consideration should be given to the reason why the problem exists.