You can be the reason your street receives a new sign. Thus, this article shows you how to get a street sign put up. This will be one of the favors you do your city. To get a street sign put up, write a letter to your city councilman, alderman, or the mayor. Make it a case, including detailed information and reasons why the sign should be put up at an intersection in your street. The traffic engineer’s office will also receive your request for consideration.
Law enforcement agencies typically maintain records of street intersections and the number of accidents recorded. This information guide cities to decide what street to put up traffic control devices.
If the street intersection you want street sign put up has recorded accidents, your letter will encourage the city to take quick action.
How to get a street sign put up
The government typically listens to you when injuries have been recorded in the said intersections of the street. Nonetheless, you could get them to put up the street sign if you make a strong case even without injury reports.
Below are the steps regarding how to get a street sign put up:
Identify others who need the street sign
You need some finesse to get anything accomplished when dealing with any governing body.
Your research will include finding out others who feel a street sign is needed at the intersection. If enough people feel the same way, they will cosign your letter, making a petition.
If you can generate more interest, the chance of having your request considered increases.
Document any dangerous traffic conditions. Get the press involved. Most street reporters will cover this story for the local evening news.
You could also make your street report and publish the video or images on social media to gain more interest.
Request public information from your local police
First, make a public information request from your local police department. They might want to charge you for the information, so explain to them that you are doing your homework.
Request a copy of vehicle accident reports at that intersection for the past 2-3 years. It is not difficult for the police to produce.
If the street intersection is dangerous to pedestrians and drivers, then you have clear proof to get the street sign put up.
After reading the accident reports, you should have an attached drawing that shows the actual vehicle turn movements leading to the accident.
Find out the problematic turn movements
First, count the various turn movements and find out the turn movements with the most accidents. Look at the image below:
The blue vehicle has three possible movements—left turn, right turn, and straight. If the vehicle turns left, it could cause an accident. Will the street sign reduce any chance of an accident?
Attend your city council meeting
Consider attending your city council meeting to see how things are done and not done. Get to know the members representing your area and meet them briefly.
If you cannot meet your area’s council members, you can meet anyone who seems approachable. Find out from them who you could write to for a street sign to be installed in the affected intersection.
Some states mandate council members to have a public comment period. You will say your name and address, which becomes a public record. Finally, make a brief explanation of why you need the government to put up a street sign. End your speech within 3-4 minutes.
The news reporters and elected officials attending the meeting may not ask you questions, but be prepared to answer some.
They will not immediately agree to install a street sign during the meeting, they may not have the legal authority. For instance, in Pennsylvania, there must be a professional traffic study to determine if a street sign is warranted.
This decision involves the state Department of Transportation if any of the streets is a state highway.
Not many people pay attention to what they are doing in most local governments. Nonetheless, the City Council, Board of Supervisors, Borough Council, or whatever they are called in your state may be happy to see you show up with this request.
Write a report to your city’s councilman
Your city councilman is your most immediate elected official. They typically know the neighborhood and may drive through that intersection to confirm your report.
If you do not know your councilman, call the City Hall and request to speak with the City Clerk, ask for your councilman’s contact information.
Be polite when reporting the issue to your councilman. Do not threaten to vote against them if a street sign is not put up in your area.
Of course, they will be willing to listen. You will likely get the response:
“I will look into it and get back to you.”
Make sure they have your contact information and give you some timeline for a response, typically a week or less.
Contact the mayor
If nothing positive comes out from your meeting with the councilman, contact the mayor and repeat the same thing.
Most cities follow elaborate procedures to make consistent and well-researched traffic analysis that is legally defensible and meet acceptable traffic standards.
When contacting the mayor, think of your report as a homework project. You could also send copies to the Chief of Police, Town Manager, and even the Traffic Engineering Department.
Follow up and give it time
If your request to put up a street sign is accepted, it has to go through a chain of command for approval. This can take a while.
You must trust the process and hope that the other tasks ahead of your stop sign are completed quickly. If nothing happens after 6 months, check on the status of your request to ensure it is active. Requests like this can get lost somewhere along the line.
Should you write your state to put up a new sign?
You should write your state to put up a new sign in your street. Look at the street view in the image below:
Gary McConkey, a retired Knightdale Town Manager, North Carolina, wrote a letter requesting a sign in the intersection shown in the image above. Unfortunately, it was rejected and the response was that the intersection was fine.
You are in a world where you are a citizen. Therefore, asking the government to put up a street sign does not mean you will get it. They will only do it when they think it is okay, or when something happens that forces them to.
In this case, you have to make a case for your petition to be convincing. You want to find out about any accidents at that intersection.
Monitor the traffic flow, take note of the number of pedestrians and vehicles moving through it daily.
The idea is just to demonstrate a need to be able to get your city to put up a street sign at the intersection.
Read also: New ways to catch hit-and-run drivers
How does your city determine if an intersection should have a street sign?
States follow criteria that come down to the judgment of the traffic engineer to decide if to put up a street sign. The traffic engineer wants the least restrictive sign possible, so they follow criteria known as warrants. This determines if the situation or intersection warrants a street sign.
If the intersection meets these warrants, the traffic engineers can decide to implement a stop sign, stoplight, or yield sign. In the case of traffic signals (stoplights), for instance, the intersection has to meet at least one warrant for a sign to be put up.
There may be extenuating circumstances that get the traffic engineer to determine that a street sign is not needed. For example, if the sign causes the traffic to back up and block another heavily-trafficked intersection, the engineer will decide not to put a sign.
Is it illegal to put up your own road signs?
It is illegal to put up your own street signs. Kurt Smith, a Douglas County, Colo., father of two illegally put up street signs to prevent people from speeding on his street. He has not been charged with a crime. However, Douglas County Sheriff officials say Smith could face a misdemeanor for hindering transportation.
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Cities handle putting up a street sign differently according to the law, cost, past experience, and judgment of the elected professional staff.
When you meet your city council member or an alderperson, things could get done quicker. No guarantees, nonetheless, especially if the traffic engineer does not think the intersection needs a street sign.
Ensure to read up how you can get rid of any stolen street sign.