Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) Compliance Dates, 74128-74131 [2010-29587]

Download as PDF 74128 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 229 / Tuesday, November 30, 2010 / Notices DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Highway Administration Rescinding the Notice of Intent for an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS): Harrison and Stone Counties, MS Federal Highway Administration, DOT. ACTION: Rescind Notice of Intent to prepare an EIS. AGENCY: This notice rescinds the Notice of Intent for preparing an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) for a proposed highway to provide a connection between U.S. Highway 49 near the town of Star to Interstate 20 near the Interchange with State Route 475 in the City of Pearl, Rankin County, Mississippi. The original Notice of Intent for this EIS process was published in the Federal Register on May 22, 2009. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Claiborne Barnwell, Project Development Team Leader, Federal Highway Administration, Mississippi Division, 100 West Capitol Street, Suite 1026, Jackson, Mississippi 39269, Telephone: (601) 965–4217. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Background The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in cooperation with the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) initiated an Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) with a Notice of Intent May 22, 2009, to provide a connector road, to be built to interstate standards, between U.S. Highway 49 and Interstate 20. Due to funding constraints this Notice of Intent is rescinded. Andrew H. Hughes, Division Administrator, Mississippi, Federal Highway Administration, Jackson, Mississippi. [FR Doc. 2010–30022 Filed 11–29–10; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE M DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Highway Administration [FHWA Docket No. FHWA–2010–0159–] jdjones on DSK8KYBLC1PROD with NOTICES Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) Compliance Dates Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), DOT. ACTION: Notice; Request for comments. This notice requests comments on compliance dates for highway agencies to upgrade their SUMMARY: VerDate Mar<15>2010 17:33 Nov 29, 2010 Jkt 223001 Comments must be received on or before January 14, 2011. ADDRESSES: Mail or hand deliver comments to the U.S. Department of Transportation, Dockets Management Facility, Room W12–140, 1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590, or fax comments to (202) 493– 2251. Alternatively, comments may be submitted to the Federal eRulemaking portal at https://www.regulations.gov. All comments must include the docket number that appears in the heading of this document. All comments received will be available for examination and copying at the above address from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. Those desiring notification of receipt of comments must include a selfaddressed, stamped postcard or you may print the acknowledgment page that appears after submitting comments electronically. Anyone is able to search the electronic form of all comments in any one of our dockets by the name of the individual submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf of an association, business, or labor union). Anyone may review DOT’s complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register published on April 11, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 70, Pages 19477–78), or you may visit https:// dms.dot.gov. DATES: SUMMARY: AGENCY: existing non-compliant traffic control devices to comply with certain requirements established in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). This notice asks for responses to a series of questions about compliance dates, their benefits and economic impacts, and other related issues. For questions about the program discussed herein, contact Mr. Hari Kalla, MUTCD Team Leader, FHWA Office of Operations, (202) 366–5915, or via email at hari.kalla@dot.gov. For legal questions, please contact Mr. Raymond Cuprill, Senior Attorney Advisor, FHWA Office of the Chief Counsel, (202) 366–1392, or via e-mail at raymond.cuprill@dot.gov. Business hours for the FHWA are from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Electronic Access and Filing You may submit or retrieve comments online through the Federal eRulemaking portal at: https://www.regulations.gov. The Web site is available 24 hours each day, 365 days each year. Electronic submission and retrieval help and PO 00000 Frm 00130 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 guidelines are available under the help section of the Web site. An electronic copy of this document may also be downloaded from Office of the Federal Register’s home page at: https://www.archives.gov/federal_register and the Government Printing Office’s Web page at: https://www.gpoaccess.gov. Background The MUTCD is incorporated by reference within Federal regulations at 23 CFR Part 655, approved by FHWA, and recognized as the national standard for traffic control devices used on all public roads. When new provisions are adopted in a new edition or revision of the MUTCD, any new or reconstructed traffic control devices being installed after adoption are generally required to be in compliance with the new provisions. Existing devices in the field that do not meet the new MUTCD provisions are expected to be upgraded by highway agencies over time to meet the new provisions via a systematic upgrading process, but there are no specific dates for required completion of the upgrades. The Code of Federal Regulations, at 23 CFR 655.603(d)(1), authorizes FHWA to establish target compliance dates for compliance of particular existing devices. The FHWA establishes such compliance dates via the Federal rulemaking process. The Final Rule for the 2009 edition of the MUTCD 1 established 12 new specific compliance dates in Table I–2 for upgrading existing devices to comply with certain new provisions adopted in that edition. Table I–2 in the 2009 MUTCD also included 46 other compliance dates that had not been reached by 2009 that were established in previous Final Rules in 2000,2 2003,3 and 2007 4 for new provisions adopted in those Final Rules. The FHWA is aware of concerns on the part of some State and local highway agencies about the potential impacts of MUTCD compliance dates in the current economic downturn, which has significantly reduced the resources available to such agencies. Purpose of This Notice The FHWA is interested in examining the issues of the safety benefits provided by traffic control device uniformity and the economic hardships to State and local governments that might result from specific compliance dates for upgrading some non-compliant existing devices. 1 74 FR 66732, December 16, 2009. FR 78923, December 18, 2000. 3 68 FR 65496, November 20, 2003. 4 72 FR 72574, December 21, 2007. 2 65 E:\FR\FM\30NON1.SGM 30NON1 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 229 / Tuesday, November 30, 2010 / Notices jdjones on DSK8KYBLC1PROD with NOTICES The purpose of this notice is to present a general discussion of issues related to MUTCD compliance dates, to present a discussion of existing compliance dates for seven specific 2009 MUTCD provisions, and to request comments and input on those issues and dates. This notice also includes a series of specific questions for which the FHWA requests input on each. While there are questions presented on specific aspects of MUTCD compliance dates, comments and input may be offered on any part of this notice. The FHWA is seeking comments from all interested parties to help FHWA in further examining these issues and evaluating potential future alternative courses of action, including additional rulemaking. Discussion of General Compliance Date Issues The FHWA has established MUTCD compliance dates for upgrading existing non-compliant devices based on what it believes to be a reasonable balance of the safety benefits afforded by uniformity of traffic control devices and the economic costs to agencies to achieve compliance. Highway agencies are allowed to use systematic upgrading programs (without specific compliance dates) to upgrade their existing devices in the field to meet the vast majority of all new MUTCD provisions. For example, the 2009 MUTCD requires that the lettering on street name signs shall be composed of combination of lowercase letters with initial upper case letters. However, there is no specific compliance date for replacement of existing Street Name signs that use all capital lettering. Existing Street Name signs using all capital letters can remain in place until they need to be replaced due to end of service life or some other reason. As a result, agencies do not incur any additional cost to meet this MUTCD requirement. In addition, FHWA has established specific compliance dates predominantly based on the useful service life of devices. This approach enables highway agencies to defer upgrading noncompliant devices until the device wears out, is damaged or destroyed, or is replaced due to other events such as highway reconstruction, thus minimizing economic impacts. In the 2009 MUTCD, specific compliance dates were established for only 12 of the hundreds of new provisions that were adopted with that new edition. In those 12 cases, FHWA determined that the safety benefits that the traveling public would derive from those new provisions were so critical VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:13 Nov 29, 2010 Jkt 223001 that compliance of existing devices in the field potentially prior to the end of their service lives was necessary. Traffic control device upgrades are eligible for use of Federal-aid highway funds, thus mitigating the impacts on State and local highway agencies. The FHWA understands that there are many competing demands on State and local government resources, particularly to highway and public works agencies, that State and local governments must balance with highway safety and traffic control device uniformity in allocating their limited resources. The FHWA also believes that traffic control device uniformity is important to the safety of not only of motor vehicles, but also of pedestrians, bicyclists, and other road users, and as such this uniformity provides important benefits to society. The MUTCD was originally developed in 1930s because of the consensus among State and local governments, organizations representing motorists, and many safety-related organizations, that traffic control device uniformity was essential to reducing crashes and the deaths, injuries, and property damage that results from crashes. The 1966 Highway Safety Act 5 further recognized the safety benefits of traffic control device uniformity by legislating the change in status of the MUTCD from a recommended practice with voluntary compliance to a national standard with mandatory compliance. Further, FHWA believes that the establishment of specific compliance dates for limited numbers of new MUTCD requirements is effective in achieving uniformity for those critical items. Requirements with specific compliance dates receive much greater attention and upgrading action by highway agencies because of the potential for tort liability and the potential loss of Federal-aid funds. Discussion of Specific Compliance Dates The FHWA has identified three compliance dates established in the December 2007 Final Rule on maintaining minimum sign retroreflectivity and four of the new compliance dates established in the Final Rule for the 2009 edition of the MUTCD that might potentially present the greatest challenges to overcome. A discussion of each follows. Maintaining Minimum Sign Retroreflectivity (Section 2A.08) On December 21, 2007, the Final Rule for revision number 2 of the 2003 edition of the MUTCD was issued 5 Public PO 00000 Law 89–564, 80 Stat. 731. Frm 00131 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 74129 regarding maintaining minimum levels of sign retroreflectivity. This rulemaking was in response to a statutory requirement.6 As a part of this Final Rule, three specific compliance dates were established regarding the new requirements: (1) January 22, 2012 (4 years)—implementation and continued use of an assessment or management method that is designed to maintain traffic sign retroreflectivity at or above the established minimum levels; (2) January 22, 2015 (7 years)—replacement of regulatory, warning, and postmounted guide (except street name) signs that are identified using the assessment or management method as failing to meet the established minimum levels; and (3) January 22, 2018 (10 years)—replacement of street name signs and overhead guide signs that are identified using the assessment or management method as failing to meet the established minimum levels. The new minimum sign retroreflectivity requirements were intended to assure adequate nighttime visibility of traffic signs, especially for older drivers, but with significant safety benefits for all drivers, as clearly documented by research.7 Further, the 7-year and 10-year compliance periods were set based on expected service life of sign sheeting materials. One-Way Signs (Section 2B.40) On December 16, 2009, the Final Rule for the 2009 edition of the MUTCD was issued and a compliance date of December 31, 2019, (10 years) was established for upgrading existing field locations to comply with a new requirement for the number and location of One-Way regulatory signs. The new requirement is that One-Way signs shall be installed on the near-right and far-left corners of each intersection with the directional roadways of a divided highway having a median width of 30 feet or more. This was a recommendation (Guidance) in the 2003 MUTCD that was strengthened to a requirement (Standard) in the 2009 MUTCD. Some highway agencies already have a policy, per the 2003 guidance, to install near-right and far-left One-Way signs at each directional roadway intersection of their divided highways with medians 30 feet or wider. 6 Section 406 of the Department of Transportation and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, 1993 (Pub. L. 102–388; October 6, 1992). 7 D. Ripley. Quantifying the Safety Benefits of Traffic Control Devices—Benefit-Cost Analysis of Traffic Sign Upgrades. Accepted for publication in the proceedings of the 2005 Mid-Continent Research Symposium, Ames, Iowa, August 2005. This paper can be found at https://tcd.tamu.edu/ Documents/MinRetro/MinRetro.htm. E:\FR\FM\30NON1.SGM 30NON1 74130 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 229 / Tuesday, November 30, 2010 / Notices jdjones on DSK8KYBLC1PROD with NOTICES However, agencies that did not comply with the 2003 guidance at all or only at some of the applicable intersections now must change their policy for use of One-Way signs at newly constructed intersections, and, by the end of 2019, install any additional One-Way signs needed at their existing locations to meet the Standard. Even though 10 years is allowed for this work to be done, this might constitute a burden for some agencies with significant mileage of divided highways with medians 30 feet or wider. The strengthening of this provision to a Standard was based on safety research as detailed in the Older Driver Handbook.8 Further, the 10-year compliance date for existing locations was established in consideration of the demonstrated safety issues associated with wrong-way travel on divided highways and because FHWA anticipates that installation of the required additional signs at existing locations will provide significant safety benefits to road users. The FHWA believes that State and local highway agencies and owners of private roads open to public travel can schedule the installation of the additional required signs in conjunction with their programs for maintaining and replacing other signs at existing locations along divided highways that are worn out or damaged, thus minimizing any impacts. Horizontal Alignment Warning Signs (Sections 2C.06 through 2C.14) The 2009 MUTCD established new requirements that engineering practices shall be used to determine the appropriate advisory speed on horizontal curves and requiring a hierarchal approach to determine the use of various horizontal alignment warning signs, including Turn or Curve signs, Advisory Speed plaques, Chevrons and Large Arrow signs, and Exit Speed/Ramp Speed signs. For these signs, the Table 2C–5 matrix of ‘‘Required, Recommended, or Optional’’ must be used to determine use of each type of sign, based on the difference between the speed limit on the approach and the advisory speed of the curve. The new requirement applies to arterials and collectors with an Average Annual Daily Traffic volume of over 1,000 vehicles per day. A compliance date of December 31, 2019 (10 years), was established for upgrading signing at existing field locations to comply with 8 ‘‘Guidelines and Recommendations to Accommodate Older Drivers and Pedestrians,’’ FHWA Report no. FHWA–RD–01–051, May 2001, can be viewed at the following Internet Web site: https://www.tfhrc.gov/humanfac/01105/cover.htm. Recommendations I.E(4), I.K(2), and I.K(3). VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:13 Nov 29, 2010 Jkt 223001 the new horizontal alignment warning sign requirements. Even though 10 years is allowed for this work to be done, this might constitute a burden for some agencies with a network of higher volume arterial and collector roads having large numbers of horizontal curves. The new requirement for use of engineering practices to determine advisory speeds for curves and to use Table 2C–5 to determine the required, recommended, and optional use of horizontal alignment warning signs and plaques was determined to be needed because fatalities at horizontal curves account for 25 percent of all highway fatalities, even though horizontal curves are only a small portion of the nation’s highway mileage, and because the past application of engineering judgment for determination of advisory speeds and horizontal curve signing, without specific uniform criteria, has not sufficiently improved the safety performance of horizontal curves. Also, the 10-year compliance date was established because of the demonstrated safety issues associated with run-off-theroad crashes at horizontal curves and because FHWA anticipates that a uniform method of determining advisory speeds and installation of the required additional signs at existing locations will provide significant safety benefits to road users. The FHWA believes that State and local highway agencies and owners of private roads open to public travel can schedule the installation of the additional required signs in conjunction with their programs for maintaining and replacing other signs at existing locations that are worn out or damaged, thus minimizing any financial impacts. Yellow Change Intervals and Red Clearance Intervals (Section 4D.26) The 2009 MUTCD established a new requirement that durations of yellow change intervals and red clearance intervals for traffic signals shall be determined using engineering practices, such as the kinematic formulas published by the Institute of Transportation Engineers that take into account approach speeds, deceleration rates of stopping vehicles, intersection width, and roadway grades. Previously, the MUTCD did not require or recommend any particular methods for determining the durations of these critical safety intervals in the traffic signal sequence. A compliance date of December 31, 2014 (5 years), or when timing adjustments are made to the individual intersection and/or corridor, whichever occurs first, was established for highway agencies to use engineering PO 00000 Frm 00132 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 practices to determine times for the yellow change intervals and red clearance interval at their existing signalized locations and to revise the timing of those intervals based on the determinations. Many highway agencies have been using engineering practices to determine yellow change interval and red clearance interval durations. However, there are some agencies that have been using jurisdiction-wide constant durations, ‘‘rules of thumb,’’ or assigning durations to these intervals without applying any engineering factors. Such highway agencies might be burdened by the need to evaluate all their signalized intersections and adjust the durations of the yellow change intervals and red clearance intervals to comply with the new requirement within the 5-year compliance period. As documented in the FHWA report ‘‘Signalized Intersections: Informational Guide,’’ 9 a variety of studies from 1985 through 2002 found significant safety benefits from using accepted engineering practices to determine the durations of yellow change and red clearance intervals. Subsequent safety studies 10 have further documented significant major reductions in crashes when jurisdictions have revised the durations of the yellow change and red clearance intervals using accepted engineering practices. The 5-year compliance date was established because of the demonstrated safety benefits, as discussed above, of proper engineering-based timing of these critical signal intervals, and because traffic signals and signal control equipment have a very long service life (30 to 50 years is not uncommon) and very long intervals between signal timing adjustments are typical at many traffic signal locations in many jurisdictions. The FHWA believes that relying on systematic upgrading provisions, based on service life, to achieve compliance with this critical timing need would take an inordinately long time, to the detriment of road user safety. The FHWA believes that State and local highway agencies and owners 9 ‘‘Signalized Intersections: Informational Guide,’’ FHWA publication number FHWA–HRT–04–091, August 2004, pages 209–211, can be viewed at the following Internet Web site: https://www.tfhrc.gov/ safety/pubs/04091/. 10 NCHRP Research Results Digest 299, November 2005, can be viewed at the following Internet Web site: https://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/ nchrp_rrd_299.pdf. This digest includes data from the study ‘‘Changes in Crash Risk Following Retiming of the Traffic Signal Change Intervals,’’ by R.A. Retting, J.F. Chapline, and A.F. Williams, as published in Accident Analysis and Prevention, Volume 34, number 2, pages 215–220, available from Pergamon Press, Oxford, NY. E:\FR\FM\30NON1.SGM 30NON1 Federal Register / Vol. 75, No. 229 / Tuesday, November 30, 2010 / Notices jdjones on DSK8KYBLC1PROD with NOTICES of private roads open to public travel can minimize any impact of this signal timing requirement by adopting a policy that determines durations of yellow change and red clearance intervals that is based on engineering practices and then by applying that policy whenever an existing individual signal location or system of interconnected locations is being checked or adjusted for any reason, such as investigation of citizen complaints or routine maintenance. Pedestrian Intervals and Signal Phases (Section 4E.06) The 2009 MUTCD established a new requirement for pedestrian signals that the pedestrian change interval (flashing upraised orange hand) shall not extend into the red clearance interval and shall be followed by a buffer interval of at least 3 seconds. Previously, it was allowable to continue the flashing orange hand display into and through the vehicular red clearance interval, and thus there was no requirement for any pedestrian safety ‘‘buffer time’’ between the end of the flashing orange hand display and the start of green for conflicting traffic on the street being crossed by pedestrians. A compliance date of December 31, 2014 (5 years), or when timing adjustments are made to the individual intersection and/or corridor, whichever occurs first, was established for this new requirement. Most highway agencies have operated their pedestrian signals so that the flashing upraised hand terminates no later than the start of the yellow change interval for parallel vehicular traffic. With this display sequence, the yellow time and any red clearance time serves as the buffer interval and would comply with the new requirement. However, there are some highway agencies that have made it a practice at some or all of their signals to extend the flashing orange hand to the end of the yellow change interval or even all the way to the end of the red clearance interval. Most such pedestrian signal displays do not provide the required minimum 3 seconds after the end of the flashing orange hand as a margin of safety that allows a pedestrian who underestimates the time needed to cross a roadway, with or without a countdown display, to better avoid a conflict with vehicles. Highway agencies that have existing pedestrian signals operated in this manner might be burdened by the need to adjust the control equipment and/or durations of timing intervals to comply with the new requirement within the 5year compliance period. The FHWA established the 5-year compliance date because of the demonstrated safety issues associated VerDate Mar<15>2010 15:13 Nov 29, 2010 Jkt 223001 with pedestrian crossings at traffic signals, the need for consistent display of signal indications for pedestrians, and the pedestrian confusion that would likely occur as a result of a long-term mixing of a variety of pedestrian signal displays associated with the pedestrian clearance interval. Traffic signals and signal control equipment have a very long service life (30 to 50 years is not uncommon) and very long intervals between signal retiming are typical at many traffic signal locations in many jurisdictions. The FHWA believes that relying on systematic upgrading, based on service life, to achieve compliance with this critical timing need would take an inordinately long time, to the detriment of pedestrian safety. The FHWA believes that State and local highway agencies and owners of private roads open to public travel can minimize any impact of this signal timing requirement by adopting a policy for timing and display of pedestrian change intervals in relation to vehicular intervals in compliance with Section 4E.06 and then by applying that policy whenever an existing individual signal location or system of interconnected locations is being checked or adjusted for any reason, such as investigation of citizen complaints or routine maintenance. Questions A series of seven specific questions regarding MUTCD compliance dates are listed below, for which the FHWA requests input on each, to help further examine this issue. The seven questions are as follows: 1. What, if any, difficulties does your organization anticipate in meeting the seven MUTCD compliance dates discussed above for upgrading existing non-compliant devices in the field? 2. Are there one or more of these seven compliance dates that are more problematic than the others for your organization? If so, which ones, and why? 3. If some or all of these seven compliance dates were extended, how long do you estimate it would take to complete the necessary traffic control device upgrades? 4. What safety or other impacts would result from extending some or all of these seven compliance dates? 5. Are there other MUTCD compliance dates not described in this notice that are problematic for your organization? If yes, which ones, and why? 6. What considerations should be applied to establish new compliance dates in the MUTCD? PO 00000 Frm 00133 Fmt 4703 Sfmt 4703 74131 7. What other comments or input do you wish to provide to FHWA regarding MUTCD compliance dates for upgrading existing traffic control devices? Authority: 23 U.S.C. 101(a), 104, 109(d), 114(a), 217, 315, and 402(a); 23 CFR 1.32; and, 49 CFR 1.48(b). Issued on: November 18, 2010. Shailen Bhatt, Acting Administrator. [FR Doc. 2010–29587 Filed 11–29–10; 8:45 am] BILLING CODE 4910–22–P DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION Federal Railroad Administration Notice of Finding of No Significant Impact for the Washington State Portion of the Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor Upgrades Tier-1 Environmental Assessment Federal Railroad Administration (FRA), United States Department of Transportation (DOT). ACTION: Notice of availability. AGENCY: In accordance with the National Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (NEPA) and the FRA’s Procedures for Considering Environmental Impacts (FRA Environmental Procedures) (64 FR 28545 (May 26, 1999)), the FRA and the Washington State Department of Transportation (WSDOT) prepared a Tier-1 Environmental Assessment (Tier1 EA) that evaluates the impacts of a corridor improvements program to the Washington State portion of the Pacific Northwest Rail Corridor (PNWRC Program). This notice advises the public that FRA finds that the corridor improvement program will not have a significant impact on the quality of the human or natural environment and has issued a Finding of No Significant Impact (FONSI) supporting that determination. Copies of both the Tier1 EA and FONSI are available on FRA’s Web site at https://www.fra.dot.gov/rpd/ freight/3011.shtml. FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For further information regarding either the Tier-1 EA or FONSI please contact Melissa DuMond, Environmental Protection Specialist, Federal Railroad Administration, 1200 New Jersey Ave., SE., Stop 20, Washington, DC 20590, telephone: (202) 493–6366. SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: The purpose of the PNWRC Program in Washington State is to improve intercity passenger rail service by reducing travel times, achieving greater schedule reliability, and creating capacity for additional trip frequencies in order to accommodate growing intercity travel SUMMARY: E:\FR\FM\30NON1.SGM 30NON1

Agencies

[Federal Register Volume 75, Number 229 (Tuesday, November 30, 2010)]
[Notices]
[Pages 74128-74131]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2010-29587]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Highway Administration

[FHWA Docket No. FHWA-2010-0159-]


Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) Compliance 
Dates

AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice; Request for comments.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

SUMMARY: This notice requests comments on compliance dates for highway 
agencies to upgrade their existing non-compliant traffic control 
devices to comply with certain requirements established in the Manual 
on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). This notice asks for 
responses to a series of questions about compliance dates, their 
benefits and economic impacts, and other related issues.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before January 14, 2011.

ADDRESSES: Mail or hand deliver comments to the U.S. Department of 
Transportation, Dockets Management Facility, Room W12-140, 1200 New 
Jersey Avenue, SE., Washington, DC 20590, or fax comments to (202) 493-
2251. Alternatively, comments may be submitted to the Federal 
eRulemaking portal at https://www.regulations.gov. All comments must 
include the docket number that appears in the heading of this document. 
All comments received will be available for examination and copying at 
the above address from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, 
except Federal holidays. Those desiring notification of receipt of 
comments must include a self-addressed, stamped postcard or you may 
print the acknowledgment page that appears after submitting comments 
electronically. Anyone is able to search the electronic form of all 
comments in any one of our dockets by the name of the individual 
submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf 
of an association, business, or labor union). Anyone may review DOT's 
complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register published on 
April 11, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 70, Pages 19477-78), or you may visit 
https://dms.dot.gov.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For questions about the program 
discussed herein, contact Mr. Hari Kalla, MUTCD Team Leader, FHWA 
Office of Operations, (202) 366-5915, or via e-mail at 
hari.kalla@dot.gov. For legal questions, please contact Mr. Raymond 
Cuprill, Senior Attorney Advisor, FHWA Office of the Chief Counsel, 
(202) 366-1392, or via e-mail at raymond.cuprill@dot.gov. Business 
hours for the FHWA are from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., e.t., Monday through 
Friday, except Federal holidays.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Electronic Access and Filing

    You may submit or retrieve comments online through the Federal 
eRulemaking portal at: https://www.regulations.gov. The Web site is 
available 24 hours each day, 365 days each year. Electronic submission 
and retrieval help and guidelines are available under the help section 
of the Web site.
    An electronic copy of this document may also be downloaded from 
Office of the Federal Register's home page at: https://www.archives.gov/federal_register and the Government Printing Office's Web page at: 
https://www.gpoaccess.gov.

Background

    The MUTCD is incorporated by reference within Federal regulations 
at 23 CFR Part 655, approved by FHWA, and recognized as the national 
standard for traffic control devices used on all public roads. When new 
provisions are adopted in a new edition or revision of the MUTCD, any 
new or reconstructed traffic control devices being installed after 
adoption are generally required to be in compliance with the new 
provisions. Existing devices in the field that do not meet the new 
MUTCD provisions are expected to be upgraded by highway agencies over 
time to meet the new provisions via a systematic upgrading process, but 
there are no specific dates for required completion of the upgrades. 
The Code of Federal Regulations, at 23 CFR 655.603(d)(1), authorizes 
FHWA to establish target compliance dates for compliance of particular 
existing devices. The FHWA establishes such compliance dates via the 
Federal rulemaking process.
    The Final Rule for the 2009 edition of the MUTCD \1\ established 12 
new specific compliance dates in Table I-2 for upgrading existing 
devices to comply with certain new provisions adopted in that edition. 
Table I-2 in the 2009 MUTCD also included 46 other compliance dates 
that had not been reached by 2009 that were established in previous 
Final Rules in 2000,\2\ 2003,\3\ and 2007 \4\ for new provisions 
adopted in those Final Rules. The FHWA is aware of concerns on the part 
of some State and local highway agencies about the potential impacts of 
MUTCD compliance dates in the current economic downturn, which has 
significantly reduced the resources available to such agencies.
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    \1\ 74 FR 66732, December 16, 2009.
    \2\ 65 FR 78923, December 18, 2000.
    \3\ 68 FR 65496, November 20, 2003.
    \4\ 72 FR 72574, December 21, 2007.
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Purpose of This Notice

    The FHWA is interested in examining the issues of the safety 
benefits provided by traffic control device uniformity and the economic 
hardships to State and local governments that might result from 
specific compliance dates for upgrading some non-compliant existing 
devices.

[[Page 74129]]

    The purpose of this notice is to present a general discussion of 
issues related to MUTCD compliance dates, to present a discussion of 
existing compliance dates for seven specific 2009 MUTCD provisions, and 
to request comments and input on those issues and dates. This notice 
also includes a series of specific questions for which the FHWA 
requests input on each.
    While there are questions presented on specific aspects of MUTCD 
compliance dates, comments and input may be offered on any part of this 
notice.
    The FHWA is seeking comments from all interested parties to help 
FHWA in further examining these issues and evaluating potential future 
alternative courses of action, including additional rulemaking.

Discussion of General Compliance Date Issues

    The FHWA has established MUTCD compliance dates for upgrading 
existing non-compliant devices based on what it believes to be a 
reasonable balance of the safety benefits afforded by uniformity of 
traffic control devices and the economic costs to agencies to achieve 
compliance. Highway agencies are allowed to use systematic upgrading 
programs (without specific compliance dates) to upgrade their existing 
devices in the field to meet the vast majority of all new MUTCD 
provisions. For example, the 2009 MUTCD requires that the lettering on 
street name signs shall be composed of combination of lower-case 
letters with initial upper case letters. However, there is no specific 
compliance date for replacement of existing Street Name signs that use 
all capital lettering. Existing Street Name signs using all capital 
letters can remain in place until they need to be replaced due to end 
of service life or some other reason. As a result, agencies do not 
incur any additional cost to meet this MUTCD requirement. In addition, 
FHWA has established specific compliance dates predominantly based on 
the useful service life of devices. This approach enables highway 
agencies to defer upgrading non-compliant devices until the device 
wears out, is damaged or destroyed, or is replaced due to other events 
such as highway reconstruction, thus minimizing economic impacts.
    In the 2009 MUTCD, specific compliance dates were established for 
only 12 of the hundreds of new provisions that were adopted with that 
new edition. In those 12 cases, FHWA determined that the safety 
benefits that the traveling public would derive from those new 
provisions were so critical that compliance of existing devices in the 
field potentially prior to the end of their service lives was 
necessary. Traffic control device upgrades are eligible for use of 
Federal-aid highway funds, thus mitigating the impacts on State and 
local highway agencies.
    The FHWA understands that there are many competing demands on State 
and local government resources, particularly to highway and public 
works agencies, that State and local governments must balance with 
highway safety and traffic control device uniformity in allocating 
their limited resources. The FHWA also believes that traffic control 
device uniformity is important to the safety of not only of motor 
vehicles, but also of pedestrians, bicyclists, and other road users, 
and as such this uniformity provides important benefits to society. The 
MUTCD was originally developed in 1930s because of the consensus among 
State and local governments, organizations representing motorists, and 
many safety-related organizations, that traffic control device 
uniformity was essential to reducing crashes and the deaths, injuries, 
and property damage that results from crashes. The 1966 Highway Safety 
Act \5\ further recognized the safety benefits of traffic control 
device uniformity by legislating the change in status of the MUTCD from 
a recommended practice with voluntary compliance to a national standard 
with mandatory compliance.
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    \5\ Public Law 89-564, 80 Stat. 731.
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    Further, FHWA believes that the establishment of specific 
compliance dates for limited numbers of new MUTCD requirements is 
effective in achieving uniformity for those critical items. 
Requirements with specific compliance dates receive much greater 
attention and upgrading action by highway agencies because of the 
potential for tort liability and the potential loss of Federal-aid 
funds.

Discussion of Specific Compliance Dates

    The FHWA has identified three compliance dates established in the 
December 2007 Final Rule on maintaining minimum sign retroreflectivity 
and four of the new compliance dates established in the Final Rule for 
the 2009 edition of the MUTCD that might potentially present the 
greatest challenges to overcome. A discussion of each follows.

Maintaining Minimum Sign Retroreflectivity (Section 2A.08)

    On December 21, 2007, the Final Rule for revision number 2 of the 
2003 edition of the MUTCD was issued regarding maintaining minimum 
levels of sign retroreflectivity. This rulemaking was in response to a 
statutory requirement.\6\ As a part of this Final Rule, three specific 
compliance dates were established regarding the new requirements: (1) 
January 22, 2012 (4 years)--implementation and continued use of an 
assessment or management method that is designed to maintain traffic 
sign retroreflectivity at or above the established minimum levels; (2) 
January 22, 2015 (7 years)--replacement of regulatory, warning, and 
post-mounted guide (except street name) signs that are identified using 
the assessment or management method as failing to meet the established 
minimum levels; and (3) January 22, 2018 (10 years)--replacement of 
street name signs and overhead guide signs that are identified using 
the assessment or management method as failing to meet the established 
minimum levels.
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    \6\ Section 406 of the Department of Transportation and Related 
Agencies Appropriations Act, 1993 (Pub. L. 102-388; October 6, 
1992).
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    The new minimum sign retroreflectivity requirements were intended 
to assure adequate nighttime visibility of traffic signs, especially 
for older drivers, but with significant safety benefits for all 
drivers, as clearly documented by research.\7\ Further, the 7-year and 
10-year compliance periods were set based on expected service life of 
sign sheeting materials.
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    \7\ D. Ripley. Quantifying the Safety Benefits of Traffic 
Control Devices--Benefit-Cost Analysis of Traffic Sign Upgrades. 
Accepted for publication in the proceedings of the 2005 Mid-
Continent Research Symposium, Ames, Iowa, August 2005. This paper 
can be found at https://tcd.tamu.edu/Documents/MinRetro/MinRetro.htm.
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One-Way Signs (Section 2B.40)

    On December 16, 2009, the Final Rule for the 2009 edition of the 
MUTCD was issued and a compliance date of December 31, 2019, (10 years) 
was established for upgrading existing field locations to comply with a 
new requirement for the number and location of One-Way regulatory 
signs. The new requirement is that One-Way signs shall be installed on 
the near-right and far-left corners of each intersection with the 
directional roadways of a divided highway having a median width of 30 
feet or more. This was a recommendation (Guidance) in the 2003 MUTCD 
that was strengthened to a requirement (Standard) in the 2009 MUTCD.
    Some highway agencies already have a policy, per the 2003 guidance, 
to install near-right and far-left One-Way signs at each directional 
roadway intersection of their divided highways with medians 30 feet or 
wider.

[[Page 74130]]

However, agencies that did not comply with the 2003 guidance at all or 
only at some of the applicable intersections now must change their 
policy for use of One-Way signs at newly constructed intersections, 
and, by the end of 2019, install any additional One-Way signs needed at 
their existing locations to meet the Standard. Even though 10 years is 
allowed for this work to be done, this might constitute a burden for 
some agencies with significant mileage of divided highways with medians 
30 feet or wider.
    The strengthening of this provision to a Standard was based on 
safety research as detailed in the Older Driver Handbook.\8\ Further, 
the 10-year compliance date for existing locations was established in 
consideration of the demonstrated safety issues associated with wrong-
way travel on divided highways and because FHWA anticipates that 
installation of the required additional signs at existing locations 
will provide significant safety benefits to road users. The FHWA 
believes that State and local highway agencies and owners of private 
roads open to public travel can schedule the installation of the 
additional required signs in conjunction with their programs for 
maintaining and replacing other signs at existing locations along 
divided highways that are worn out or damaged, thus minimizing any 
impacts.
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    \8\ ``Guidelines and Recommendations to Accommodate Older 
Drivers and Pedestrians,'' FHWA Report no. FHWA-RD-01-051, May 2001, 
can be viewed at the following Internet Web site: https://www.tfhrc.gov/humanfac/01105/cover.htm. Recommendations I.E(4), 
I.K(2), and I.K(3).
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Horizontal Alignment Warning Signs (Sections 2C.06 through 2C.14)

    The 2009 MUTCD established new requirements that engineering 
practices shall be used to determine the appropriate advisory speed on 
horizontal curves and requiring a hierarchal approach to determine the 
use of various horizontal alignment warning signs, including Turn or 
Curve signs, Advisory Speed plaques, Chevrons and Large Arrow signs, 
and Exit Speed/Ramp Speed signs. For these signs, the Table 2C-5 matrix 
of ``Required, Recommended, or Optional'' must be used to determine use 
of each type of sign, based on the difference between the speed limit 
on the approach and the advisory speed of the curve. The new 
requirement applies to arterials and collectors with an Average Annual 
Daily Traffic volume of over 1,000 vehicles per day. A compliance date 
of December 31, 2019 (10 years), was established for upgrading signing 
at existing field locations to comply with the new horizontal alignment 
warning sign requirements.
    Even though 10 years is allowed for this work to be done, this 
might constitute a burden for some agencies with a network of higher 
volume arterial and collector roads having large numbers of horizontal 
curves.
    The new requirement for use of engineering practices to determine 
advisory speeds for curves and to use Table 2C-5 to determine the 
required, recommended, and optional use of horizontal alignment warning 
signs and plaques was determined to be needed because fatalities at 
horizontal curves account for 25 percent of all highway fatalities, 
even though horizontal curves are only a small portion of the nation's 
highway mileage, and because the past application of engineering 
judgment for determination of advisory speeds and horizontal curve 
signing, without specific uniform criteria, has not sufficiently 
improved the safety performance of horizontal curves. Also, the 10-year 
compliance date was established because of the demonstrated safety 
issues associated with run-off-the-road crashes at horizontal curves 
and because FHWA anticipates that a uniform method of determining 
advisory speeds and installation of the required additional signs at 
existing locations will provide significant safety benefits to road 
users. The FHWA believes that State and local highway agencies and 
owners of private roads open to public travel can schedule the 
installation of the additional required signs in conjunction with their 
programs for maintaining and replacing other signs at existing 
locations that are worn out or damaged, thus minimizing any financial 
impacts.

Yellow Change Intervals and Red Clearance Intervals (Section 4D.26)

    The 2009 MUTCD established a new requirement that durations of 
yellow change intervals and red clearance intervals for traffic signals 
shall be determined using engineering practices, such as the kinematic 
formulas published by the Institute of Transportation Engineers that 
take into account approach speeds, deceleration rates of stopping 
vehicles, intersection width, and roadway grades. Previously, the MUTCD 
did not require or recommend any particular methods for determining the 
durations of these critical safety intervals in the traffic signal 
sequence. A compliance date of December 31, 2014 (5 years), or when 
timing adjustments are made to the individual intersection and/or 
corridor, whichever occurs first, was established for highway agencies 
to use engineering practices to determine times for the yellow change 
intervals and red clearance interval at their existing signalized 
locations and to revise the timing of those intervals based on the 
determinations.
    Many highway agencies have been using engineering practices to 
determine yellow change interval and red clearance interval durations. 
However, there are some agencies that have been using jurisdiction-wide 
constant durations, ``rules of thumb,'' or assigning durations to these 
intervals without applying any engineering factors. Such highway 
agencies might be burdened by the need to evaluate all their signalized 
intersections and adjust the durations of the yellow change intervals 
and red clearance intervals to comply with the new requirement within 
the 5-year compliance period.
    As documented in the FHWA report ``Signalized Intersections: 
Informational Guide,'' \9\ a variety of studies from 1985 through 2002 
found significant safety benefits from using accepted engineering 
practices to determine the durations of yellow change and red clearance 
intervals. Subsequent safety studies \10\ have further documented 
significant major reductions in crashes when jurisdictions have revised 
the durations of the yellow change and red clearance intervals using 
accepted engineering practices. The 5-year compliance date was 
established because of the demonstrated safety benefits, as discussed 
above, of proper engineering-based timing of these critical signal 
intervals, and because traffic signals and signal control equipment 
have a very long service life (30 to 50 years is not uncommon) and very 
long intervals between signal timing adjustments are typical at many 
traffic signal locations in many jurisdictions. The FHWA believes that 
relying on systematic upgrading provisions, based on service life, to 
achieve compliance with this critical timing need would take an 
inordinately long time, to the detriment of road user safety. The FHWA 
believes that State and local highway agencies and owners

[[Page 74131]]

of private roads open to public travel can minimize any impact of this 
signal timing requirement by adopting a policy that determines 
durations of yellow change and red clearance intervals that is based on 
engineering practices and then by applying that policy whenever an 
existing individual signal location or system of interconnected 
locations is being checked or adjusted for any reason, such as 
investigation of citizen complaints or routine maintenance.
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    \9\ ``Signalized Intersections: Informational Guide,'' FHWA 
publication number FHWA-HRT-04-091, August 2004, pages 209-211, can 
be viewed at the following Internet Web site: https://www.tfhrc.gov/safety/pubs/04091/.
    \10\ NCHRP Research Results Digest 299, November 2005, can be 
viewed at the following Internet Web site: https://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/nchrp_rrd_299.pdf. This digest 
includes data from the study ``Changes in Crash Risk Following 
Retiming of the Traffic Signal Change Intervals,'' by R.A. Retting, 
J.F. Chapline, and A.F. Williams, as published in Accident Analysis 
and Prevention, Volume 34, number 2, pages 215-220, available from 
Pergamon Press, Oxford, NY.
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Pedestrian Intervals and Signal Phases (Section 4E.06)

    The 2009 MUTCD established a new requirement for pedestrian signals 
that the pedestrian change interval (flashing upraised orange hand) 
shall not extend into the red clearance interval and shall be followed 
by a buffer interval of at least 3 seconds. Previously, it was 
allowable to continue the flashing orange hand display into and through 
the vehicular red clearance interval, and thus there was no requirement 
for any pedestrian safety ``buffer time'' between the end of the 
flashing orange hand display and the start of green for conflicting 
traffic on the street being crossed by pedestrians. A compliance date 
of December 31, 2014 (5 years), or when timing adjustments are made to 
the individual intersection and/or corridor, whichever occurs first, 
was established for this new requirement.
    Most highway agencies have operated their pedestrian signals so 
that the flashing upraised hand terminates no later than the start of 
the yellow change interval for parallel vehicular traffic. With this 
display sequence, the yellow time and any red clearance time serves as 
the buffer interval and would comply with the new requirement. However, 
there are some highway agencies that have made it a practice at some or 
all of their signals to extend the flashing orange hand to the end of 
the yellow change interval or even all the way to the end of the red 
clearance interval. Most such pedestrian signal displays do not provide 
the required minimum 3 seconds after the end of the flashing orange 
hand as a margin of safety that allows a pedestrian who underestimates 
the time needed to cross a roadway, with or without a countdown 
display, to better avoid a conflict with vehicles. Highway agencies 
that have existing pedestrian signals operated in this manner might be 
burdened by the need to adjust the control equipment and/or durations 
of timing intervals to comply with the new requirement within the 5-
year compliance period.
    The FHWA established the 5-year compliance date because of the 
demonstrated safety issues associated with pedestrian crossings at 
traffic signals, the need for consistent display of signal indications 
for pedestrians, and the pedestrian confusion that would likely occur 
as a result of a long-term mixing of a variety of pedestrian signal 
displays associated with the pedestrian clearance interval. Traffic 
signals and signal control equipment have a very long service life (30 
to 50 years is not uncommon) and very long intervals between signal 
retiming are typical at many traffic signal locations in many 
jurisdictions. The FHWA believes that relying on systematic upgrading, 
based on service life, to achieve compliance with this critical timing 
need would take an inordinately long time, to the detriment of 
pedestrian safety. The FHWA believes that State and local highway 
agencies and owners of private roads open to public travel can minimize 
any impact of this signal timing requirement by adopting a policy for 
timing and display of pedestrian change intervals in relation to 
vehicular intervals in compliance with Section 4E.06 and then by 
applying that policy whenever an existing individual signal location or 
system of interconnected locations is being checked or adjusted for any 
reason, such as investigation of citizen complaints or routine 
maintenance.

Questions

    A series of seven specific questions regarding MUTCD compliance 
dates are listed below, for which the FHWA requests input on each, to 
help further examine this issue.
    The seven questions are as follows:
    1. What, if any, difficulties does your organization anticipate in 
meeting the seven MUTCD compliance dates discussed above for upgrading 
existing non-compliant devices in the field?
    2. Are there one or more of these seven compliance dates that are 
more problematic than the others for your organization? If so, which 
ones, and why?
    3. If some or all of these seven compliance dates were extended, 
how long do you estimate it would take to complete the necessary 
traffic control device upgrades?
    4. What safety or other impacts would result from extending some or 
all of these seven compliance dates?
    5. Are there other MUTCD compliance dates not described in this 
notice that are problematic for your organization? If yes, which ones, 
and why?
    6. What considerations should be applied to establish new 
compliance dates in the MUTCD?
    7. What other comments or input do you wish to provide to FHWA 
regarding MUTCD compliance dates for upgrading existing traffic control 
devices?

    Authority: 23 U.S.C. 101(a), 104, 109(d), 114(a), 217, 315, and 
402(a); 23 CFR 1.32; and, 49 CFR 1.48(b).

    Issued on: November 18, 2010.
Shailen Bhatt,
Acting Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2010-29587 Filed 11-29-10; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-22-P