Grant helps county make road signs easier to spot

POLK COUNTY -- Driving at nighttime in the county is becoming more safe because of new, highly reflective road signs.

POLK COUNTY -- Driving at nighttime in the county is becoming more safe because of new, highly reflective road signs.

The National Association of County Engineers has awarded Polk County a $3,500 grant to replace old road signs with ones of a highly reflective surfacing called diamond-grade reflectivity, Public Works Director Ken Husby said.

"It's a small grant, but it helps," Husby said. "Signing is so important for motorist safety."

Public Works Assistant Jennifer Bingham said federal laws are requiring all signs be replaced with the more reflective ones by 2018, and the county was notified of the changes last April. Husby said he expects all of Polk County's signs to be replaced by 2014. With the grant money, Husby estimates replacement costs at $20,000.

The new signs have a 10-year warranty and pick up ambient light from headlights rather than just direct light, making the letters easier to read and brighter to motorists driving at night.

Husby said county roads with stop signs that intersect state highways and accident-prone areas are getting new signs first. About 50 have been replaced so far. Next on the list will be diamond-shaped signs like curve signs, tourist signs, and then street name signs last.

"Motorists ordinarily just drive down the road," Husby said. "(They) will be more likely to pay attention to something that's bright and legible than dingy."

For more information: Polk County Public Works, 503-623-9287.

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