DEADWOOD — Every sign on every gravel road in Lawrence County will soon be replaced and brought up to specification as part of a Federal Highway Administration initiative administered by the South Dakota Department of Transportation (DOT).
“It’s common for a county to have 4,000 panels or more,” Brosz Engineering engineer Todd Wilsey said in his speech to the Lawrence County Commission on Tuesday. “The cost is usually around a million dollars, but, for the county, it’s nothing.”
Lawrence County Highways Superintendent Allan Bonnema said the initiative applies only to all gravel roads in the county.
Bonnema said that even though the county checks the reflectivity of the signs at night and those that aren’t adequate are replaced, the signs “don’t really meet federal standards.” New messages will not be a u channel message like we have now.
Because the project is funded by the federal government, a public meeting, held Tuesday, was a requirement to receive the funding.
“It’s more of an information meeting,” Brosz Engineering’s Tom Wilsey said in his address to the commission.
The main players in the project are the Federal and State Departments of Highways, County of Lawrence and Brosz Engineering.
“Federal Highway is providing 100% funding,” Wilsey said. “They pay for everything in there. The design and the realization. The only thing the county has to pay for is maintenance afterwards. The Feds delegate administration to the DOT. The DOT is the one who distributes the contracts and pays the bills. They manage all the financing and provide all the standards we need to follow for the design of the plans.
Brosz is under contract with the state to organize the public meeting and perform the data collection.
“We’ll drive each of your routes and document every sign you have, bring things up to date,” Wilsey said. “We design to the Uniform Traffic Control Manual…DOT has standards for the logo and the roads.”
Following data collection, Brosz will develop a plan and submit it to DOT and the county for review. DOT will handle the tendering for the project.
Five counties in South Dakota are undergoing the same process and project this year.
“The old signs, they will be recovered. If they’re worth keeping, we’ll return them to Allan (Bonnema), here. Otherwise, the contractor will get rid of it himself,” Wilsey said. “I can tell you that 99% of the time the contractor turns it all over to Allan, let him worry about it.”
Counties can declare the panels surplus or sell them for scrap, as they are aluminum. The U-channel posts on which signs are mounted are no longer used much except for delineators or small signs.
“The signs we will put up – stop, yield, school and warning signs – will be the diamond level signs, which are type 11 reflectivity. Think of a construction sign, you see, with yellow it’s usually engineers, headlights of a car you can see it clearly at 500 feet, a diamond you can see it at 1,500,” Wilsey said. “The other signs, like street signs, speed limit, we will do a type 4, or high intensity. Most department signs will be replaced. If they have a sticker that says they’re under three on the back, we’ll let them. If they don’t have the correct post type, we will replace the post.
Lawrence County has two signage projects. One concerns paved roads and has already been implemented; the signs to turn up this summer.
This most recent project involves all primary and secondary gravel roads.
“All street signs will be replaced. You’ll find they’ll be a little bigger, a little easier to see,” Wilsey said.
Rafters will be installed where the sidewalk is 10 miles per hour below the speed limit or slower. Guardrail delineators will also be installed.
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