Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood has issued a statement condemning a federal policy that calls for states and cities to pay for new, easier-to-read new traffic signs as the Federal Highway Administration extended its review period in the face of criticism by cash-strapped budgeters.
Noting the high cost of new signs, LaHood said he wants to reopen the public comment period on new regulations set to go into effect to begin sign replacement.
"I believe that this regulation makes no sense. It does not properly take into account the high costs that local governments would have to bear," LaHood said in a statement Tuesday.
"There have got to be better ways to improve safety without piling costs onto the American people. Safety is our priority, but so is good government. Listening to the public helps to ensure both," said LaHood, who is a strong advocate of driving without distractions.
LaHood responded after ABC reported that the new rules outlined in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices included increasing the size of the letters on road signs from 4 inches to 6 inches on streets with speed limits over 25 miles per hour, more reflective lettering and the replacement through attrition of signs from all caps lettering to title case.
ABC noted that for Milwaukee, the cost of changing the signs would be nearly $2 million -- double the city's annual budget for traffic control.
On Monday, the Federal Highway Administration reopened the comment period for another 45 days, even as it defended the new regulations -- crafted during the Bush administration with the aim of making it easier for an aging population to read them.
"If you can't read it, you can't see it or you can't comprehend it, it could be a distraction to
you," said Federal Highway Administrator Victor Mendez told ABC. "You could be in an
accident, negative consequences could occur."