Board of Works reflects on sign grant possibilities

Monday, October 24, 2011

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign ... everywhere a sign that needs to be replaced.

But Greencastle soon may be singing a new tune -- with everywhere a new sign ... everywhere a federally compliant, highly reflective new sign.

Signing up for a possible $90,000 in federal grant dollars, the City of Greencastle hopes to meet new guidelines for signage with minimal impact to the local budget.

Recent action by the Board of Public Works and Safety -- specifically signing an Indiana Department of Transportation (INDOT) letter verifying that no additional right-of-way will be necessary for the project -- was the first step toward applying for Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) funding.

As a matter of pedestrian and motorist safety, all regulatory signs, warning signs and object markers must meet high-intensity visibility guidelines through higher resolution signage, according to new federal regulations.

Upgrading stopsigns and other warning signs will be necessary by 2015, while all street signs all must be changed out by 2018 in order to comply with the federal mandate.

The Federal Highway Administration has made major changes to the uniform traffic code, altering minimum reflectivity standards. Thus, communities were told to do the following:

* Assess signs on their roads and develop a replacement plan within four years.

* Replace non-compliant warning and regulatory signs within seven years.

* Replace guidance and street name signs within 10 years.

Obtaining the HSIP grant would allow Greencastle to meet those requirements in advance of the mandated deadlines.

In applying for the grant through INDOT, the city will have to provide a $10,000 match, the Board of Works was told.

Mayor Sue Murray said the city would be the first community in the Crawfordsville district of INDOT to request an HSIP grant.

The $90,000 grant, if approved, would take the city through 2015 in compliance, she said.

Brad Phillips, Greencastle Department of Public Works superintendent, said his department should be able to make the grant money go further and buy more signs, poles and break-away studs by doing the labor and installation themselves.

The city grant application would encompass more than 1,000 total signs, including 860 regulatory signs, 88 warning signs, 34 school signs and 38 object markers along with requisite poles and studs.

Meanwhile, the city will also apply for a $10,157 grant from the Railroad Grade Crossing Fund to pay for new street lighting at a number of crossings in Greencastle, the Board of Works learned.

Phillips has proposed eight streetlights at railroad crossings on Walnut, Columbia, Liberty, Jacob and Madison streets, as well as Manhattan Road.

The grant covers only lighting, not cross arms or other railroad crossing improvements.

Phillips estimated that each light would cost an additional $5.18 per month to operate once installed.

Mayor Murray said the grant would cover all the railroad crossings within city limits with the exception of North College Avenue, where the old Barnaby mill railroad crossing site would not qualify because the lights would have to be on private property.

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