The following is a summary of FHWA’s comments on the new MUTCD that were presented at the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices Committee Meeting in January, 2010 in Arlington, Virginia.
Hari Kalla, MUTCD Team Leader, outlined these key issues for the new Manual:
- Complete street concept for all road users (e.g., peds and bikes)
- Consideration for aging population (e.g., sign retro reflectivity, letter sizes)
- Innovation (e.g., managed lanes, toll plazas)
Although the FHWA did not decide in favor of a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Amendment (SNPA), as had been requested by the NCUTCD, the FHWA MUTCD Team as well as FHWA management did carefully consider the request. In deciding instead to issue the Final Rule, the FHWA was concerned that guidance on traffic control devices was needed sooner, rather than starting the rule-making process all over again. They pointed out that the final rule is almost always less stringent than the NPA, and that the new approach in providing compliance dates provides more flexibility to public agencies.
The handling of compliance dates for the new Manual is one of the most important changes. The FHWA changed their interpretation from previous editions. Formerly, it was regarded that if there were no specific compliance dates, agencies had two years to comply. Instead, the new interpretation requires agencies to comply as a part of new construction, reconstruction, and as a part of a systematic upgrading program. Exceptions with specific compliance dates to retrofit or replace existing devices are now shown in new Table 1-2. There are 11 new Standards that must be complied with in accordance with specific dates.
The FHWA also clarified the new Manual’s applicability to private property. In particular, when applying to facilities “open to public travel,” the new Manual will apply to ROADS within shopping centers, airports, etc. Parking lots and their aisles are not subject to MUTCD requirements at this time. They believe that the general principles of the MUTCD should apply, but more work is needed to better define those items that would affect parking lots and aisles. The NCUTCD has established a task force across all technical committees to develop recommendations.