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GF green lights new traffic signs

The city of Grand Forks is starting a $252,000 project today to replace all its old traffic signs, which may not meet federal standards for reflectivity.

The city of Grand Forks is starting a $252,000 project today to replace all its old traffic signs, which may not meet federal standards for reflectivity.

That is, they might not be visible enough at night to ensure driver safety.

Crews will start on the 42nd Street corridor, working from one intersection to the next. The street will stay open, but some lanes may be closed, causing delays, the city warned.

The high-visibility signs have been in use for some time in Grand Forks even though the feds didn't require it, city Traffic Engineer Jane Williams said. Now the feds not only require it, they also require all signs be no more than 10 years old by 2013, which is why the city is replacing 1,100 of its signs.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, half of all traffic deaths happened at night even though only a quarter of the miles traveled happen at night.

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The high-visibility signs are technically called "retroreflective" signs. Ordinary reflective signs, like a mirror, reflect most of the light away from the car and, hence, the driver. Retroreflective signs, using prisms, reflect most of the light back to the car.

Their only problem is they lose that property after about 10 years because the sun bleaches them, Williams said.

The signs Grand Forks is replacing are the black and white regulatory signs such as arrow signs hanging from traffic signal arms and speed limits and signs identifying street names.

Williams said the new street name signs will be blue and white instead of green and white. Green and white has long been required because the contrasting colors are easier to read. The blue and white are now another option because the contrast makes them easier to read in the summer.

Reach Tran at (701) 780-1248; (800) 477-6572, ext. 248; or send e-mail to ttran@gfherald.com .

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