[Federal Register Volume 77, Number 93 (Monday, May 14, 2012)]
[Rules and Regulations]
[Pages 28460-28466]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2012-11710]



[[Page 28460]]

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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Highway Administration

23 CFR Part 655

[FHWA Docket No. FHWA-2010-0159]
RIN 2125-AF43


National Standards for Traffic Control Devices; the Manual on 
Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways; Revision

AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), Department of 
Transportation (DOT).

ACTION: Final rule.

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SUMMARY: The MUTCD is incorporated in regulations, approved by the 
FHWA, and recognized as the national standard for traffic control 
devices used on all streets, highways, bikeways, and private roads open 
to public travel. The purpose of this final rule is to revise certain 
information relating to target compliance dates for traffic control 
devices. This final rule revises Table I-2 of the MUTCD by eliminating 
the compliance dates for 46 items (8 that had already expired and 38 
that had future compliance dates) and extends and/or revises the dates 
for 4 items. The target compliance dates for 8 items that are deemed to 
be of critical safety importance will remain in effect. In addition, 
this final rule adds a new Option statement exempting existing historic 
street name signs within a locally identified historic district from 
the Standards and Guidance of Section 2D.43 regarding street sign 
color, letter size, and other design features, including 
retroreflectivity.
    Consistent with Executive Order 13563, and in particular its 
emphasis on burden-reduction and on retrospective analysis of existing 
rules, the changes adopted are intended to reduce the costs and impacts 
of compliance dates on State and local highway agencies and to 
streamline and simplify the information. The MUTCD, with these changes 
incorporated, is being designated as Revision 2 of the 2009 edition of 
the MUTCD.

DATES: Effective Date: This final rule is effective June 13, 2012. The 
incorporation by reference of the publication listed in this regulation 
is approved by the Director of the Office of the Federal Register as of 
June 13, 2012.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Chung Eng, Office of 
Transportation Operations, (202) 366-8043; or Mr. William Winne, Office 
of the Chief Counsel, (202) 366-1397, Federal Highway Administration, 
1200 New Jersey Ave. SE., Washington, DC 20590. Office hours are from 8 
a.m. to 4:30 p.m., E.T., Monday through Friday, except Federal 
holidays.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: 

Electronic Access and Filing

    This document, the notice of proposed amendment (NPA), and all 
comments received may be viewed online through the Federal eRulemaking 
portal at: http://www.regulations.gov. Electronic submission and 
retrieval help and guidelines are available on the Web site. It is 
available 24 hours each day, 366 days this year. Please follow the 
instructions. An electronic copy of this document may also be 
downloaded from the Office of the Federal Register's home page at: 
http://archives.gov/federal-register and the Government Printing 
Office's Web page at: http://www.gpo.gov/fdsys.

Executive Summary

I. Purpose of the Regulatory Action

    The purpose of this final rule is to revise certain information 
relating to target compliance dates for traffic control devices. The 
changes adopted are intended to reduce the impacts of compliance dates 
on State and local highway agencies and streamline and simplify 
information contained in the MUTCD without reducing safety. The FHWA 
has the authority to prescribe standards for traffic control devices on 
all roads open to public travel pursuant to 23 U.S.C. 109(d), 114(a), 
217, 315, and 402(a).

II. Summary of the Major Provisions of the Regulatory Action in 
Question

    This final rule revises Table I-2 of the MUTCD by eliminating the 
compliance dates for 46 items (8 that had already expired and 38 that 
had future compliance dates) and extends and/or revises the dates for 4 
items. The target compliance dates for 8 items that are deemed to be of 
critical safety importance will remain in effect. In addition, this 
final rule adds a new Option statement exempting existing historic 
street name signs within a locally identified historic district from 
the Standards and Guidance of Section 2D.43 regarding street sign 
color, letter size, and other design features, including 
retroreflectivity.

III. Costs and Benefits

    The changes in this rulemaking will not require the expenditure of 
additional funds, but rather will provide State and local governments 
with the flexibility to allocate scarce financial resources based on 
local conditions and the useful service life of its traffic control 
devices. Since this rulemaking will benefit State and local governments 
by providing additional clarification, guidance and flexibility, it is 
anticipated that the economic impacts will be minimal and that costs 
and burdens will be reduced. Thus, a full regulatory evaluation was not 
conducted.

Revised Table I-2

    This final rule amends Table I-2 of the 2009 MUTCD to read as 
follows:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
  2009 MUTCD Section      2009 MUTCD        Specific
        No.(s)          Section title      provision     Compliance date
------------------------------------------------------------------------
2A.08................  Maintaining      Implementation   2 years from
                        Minimum          and continued    the effective
                        Retroreflectiv   use of an        date of this
                        ity.             assessment or    revision of
                                         management       the 2009
                                         method that is   MUTCD*.
                                         designed to
                                         maintain
                                         regulatory and
                                         warning sign
                                         retroreflectiv
                                         ity at or
                                         above the
                                         established
                                         minimum levels
                                         (see Paragraph
                                         2).
2A.19................  Lateral Offset.  Crashworthiness  January 17,
                                         of sign          2013 (date
                                         supports on      established in
                                         roads with       the 2000
                                         posted speed     MUTCD).
                                         limit of 50
                                         mph or higher
                                         (see Paragraph
                                         2).
2B.40................  ONE WAY Signs    New              December 31,
                        (R6-1, R6-2).    requirements     2019.
                                         in the 2009
                                         MUTCD for the
                                         number and
                                         locations of
                                         ONE WAY signs
                                         (see
                                         Paragraphs 4,
                                         9, and 10).
2C.06 through 2C.14..  Horizontal       Revised          December 31,
                        Alignment        requirements     2019.
                        Warning Signs.   in the 2009
                                         MUTCD
                                         regarding the
                                         use of various
                                         horizontal
                                         alignment
                                         signs (see
                                         Table 2C-5).

[[Page 28461]]

 
2E.31, 2E.33, and      Plaques for      New requirement  December 31,
 2E.36.                 Left-Hand        in the 2009      2014.
                        Exits.           MUTCD to use
                                         E1-5aP and E1-
                                         5bP plaques
                                         for left-hand
                                         exits.
4D.26................  Yellow Change    New requirement  5 years from
                        and Red          in the 2009      the effective
                        Clearance        MUTCD that       date of this
                        Intervals.       durations of     revision of
                                         yellow change    the 2009
                                         and red          MUTCD, or when
                                         clearance        timing
                                         intervals        adjustments
                                         shall be         are made to
                                         determined       the individual
                                         using            intersection
                                         engineering      and/or
                                         practices (see   corridor,
                                         Paragraphs 3     whichever
                                         and 6).          occurs first.
4E.06................  Pedestrian       New requirement  5 years from
                        Intervals and    in the 2009      the effective
                        Signal Phases.   MUTCD that the   date of this
                                         pedestrian       revision of
                                         change           the 2009
                                         interval shall   MUTCD, or when
                                         not extend       timing
                                         into the red     adjustments
                                         clearance        are made to
                                         interval and     the individual
                                         shall be         intersection
                                         followed by a    and/or
                                         buffer           corridor,
                                         interval of at   whichever
                                         least 3          occurs first.
                                         seconds (see
                                         Paragraph 4).
6D.03 **.............  Worker Safety    New requirement  December 31,
                        Considerations.  in the 2009      2011.
                                         MUTCD that all
                                         workers within
                                         the right-of-
                                         way shall wear
                                         high-
                                         visibility
                                         apparel (see
                                         Paragraphs 4,
                                         6, and 7).
6E.02 **.............  High-Visibility  New requirement  December 31,
                        Safety Apparel.  in the 2009      2011.
                                         MUTCD that all
                                         flaggers
                                         within the
                                         right-of-way
                                         shall wear
                                         high-
                                         visibility
                                         apparel.
7D.04 **.............  Uniform of       New requirement  December 31,
                        Adult Crossing   in the 2009      2011.
                        Guards.          MUTCD for high-
                                         visibility
                                         apparel for
                                         adult crossing
                                         guards.
8B.03, 8B.04.........  Grade Crossing   Retroreflective  December 31,
                        (Crossbuck)      strip on         2019.
                        Signs and        Crossbuck sign
                        Supports.        and support
                                         (see Paragraph
                                         7 in Section
                                         8B.03 and
                                         Paragraphs 15
                                         and 18 in
                                         Section 8B.04).
8B.04................  Crossbuck        New requirement  December 31,
                        Assemblies       in the 2009      2019.
                        with YIELD or    MUTCD for the
                        STOP Signs at    use of STOP or
                        Passive Grade    YIELD signs
                        Crossings.       with Crossbuck
                                         signs at
                                         passive grade
                                         crossings.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
* Types of signs other than regulatory or warning are to be added to an
  agency's management or assessment method as resources allow.
** MUTCD requirement is a result of a legislative mandate.
Note: All compliance dates that were previously published in Table I-2
  of the 2009 MUTCD and that do not appear in this revised table have
  been eliminated.

Background

    One of the purposes of the MUTCD is to provide for the consistent 
and uniform application of traffic control devices on streets and 
highways open to public travel. These traffic control devices are 
designed to promote highway safety and efficiency. As technology 
evolves and surroundings change, new provisions for traffic control 
devices and their application may be proposed. When new provisions are 
adopted in a new edition or revision of the MUTCD, any new or 
reconstructed traffic control devices installed after adoption are 
required to be in compliance with the new provisions. Existing devices 
already in use that do not comply with the new MUTCD provisions are 
expected to be upgraded by highway agencies over time to meet the new 
provisions, unless the FHWA establishes a target compliance date for 
upgrading such devices. If such a target date has been established by 
the FHWA through the Federal rulemaking process, agencies are to 
upgrade existing noncompliant devices on or before the target 
compliance date. Due to the current economic climate, State and local 
agencies have expressed concern about the potential costs associated 
with replacing noncompliant traffic control devices within the target 
compliance dates previously adopted in the MUTCD. In response to those 
concerns, the FHWA issued a Request for Comments in the Federal 
Register \1\ seeking public input on traffic control device compliance 
dates.
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    \1\ 75 FR 74128, November 30, 2010.
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    After reviewing and considering the nearly 600 letters submitted by 
State and local government highway agencies, national associations, 
traffic industry representatives, traffic engineering consultants, and 
private citizens, on August 31, 2011, the FHWA published a Notice of 
Proposed Amendments (NPA), proposing revisions to the MUTCD at 76 FR 
54156. The NPA proposed to revise Table I-2 of the 2009 edition of the 
MUTCD to eliminate the compliance dates for 46 items (8 that have 
already expired and 38 that have future compliance dates) and to extend 
and/or revise the dates for 4 items. In addition, the NPA proposed to 
retain the target compliance dates for eight items that were deemed to 
be of critical safety importance. Interested persons were invited to 
submit comments to FHWA Docket No. FHWA-2010-0159. Based on the 
comments received and its own experience, the FHWA is issuing this 
final rule and is designating the MUTCD, with these changes 
incorporated, as Revision 2 of the 2009 edition of the MUTCD.
    The text of Revision 2 of the 2009 edition of the MUTCD, with these 
final rule changes incorporated, is available for inspection and 
copying, as prescribed in 49 CFR part 7, at the FHWA Office of 
Transportation Operations (HOTO-1), 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., 
Washington, DC 20590. Furthermore, the text of the 2009 edition of the 
MUTCD, with these final rule changes and the changes of Revision 1 also 
incorporated, is available on the FHWA's MUTCD Web site at: http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov. The 2009 edition with Revisions 1 and 2 
incorporated supersedes all previous editions and revisions of the 
MUTCD.

Summary of Comments

    The FHWA received, reviewed, and analyzed 158 letters submitted to 
the docket, which contain nearly 240 different comments on the proposed 
changes. The American Association of State Highway and Transportation 
Officials (AASHTO), the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control 
Devices (NCUTCD), the American Public Works Association (APWA), the 
National Association of County Engineers (NACE), the American Traffic 
Safety Services Association (ATSSA), American Road and Transportation

[[Page 28462]]

Builders Association (ARTBA), State departments of transportation 
(DOTs), city and county government agencies, other associations, 
transportation consultants, and individual private citizens submitted 
comments. The majority of the comments were fully or partially 
supportive of the NPA proposal, agreeing with the general intent. The 
AASHTO agreed with the NPA, except for two specific compliance dates 
that were retained in the NPA (see below for additional details). In 
addition to commenting on the compliance date proposal, several local 
jurisdictions and individuals submitted comments regarding existing 
provisions in Section 2D.43 of the MUTCD that affect ``historic'' 
street name signs in their communities. A summary of the comments 
received and the changes in the MUTCD adopted in this final rule are 
included in the following section.

Discussion of Comments on Table I-2 and Adopted Revisions

    As noted above, most the comments were fully or partially 
supportive of the NPA proposal, and agreed with the general intent of 
the NPA. Many commenters had previously taken the opportunity to 
comment on the November 30, 2010, request for comments on traffic 
control compliance dates published at 75 FR 74128. As a result, the 
proposals in the NPA reflected many of the commenters' concerns and 
opinions. The following discussion addresses the significant issues 
raised by comments in opposition to elements of the NPA published on 
August 31, 2011 at 76 FR 54156.
    1. In the NPA, the FHWA proposed to eliminate 46 of the existing 
compliance dates (not including the two associated with sign 
retroreflectivity). Six citizens and one association of local 
governments in Minnesota opposed these 46 eliminations, on the basis of 
reduced uniformity and safety of traffic control devices. The Maryland 
State Highway Administration noted that the NPA preamble stated that 
FHWA proposed to ``eliminate'' the dates that have already expired for 
eight items in Table I-2, but the note at the bottom of the table 
stated that these dates were ``deleted'' from the table. The eight 
specific compliance dates that have expired were intended to be legally 
eliminated (rather than just removed from the table). To clarify this 
issue, the FHWA revises the note at the bottom of the table in the 
final rule to read, ``All compliance dates that were originally 
published in Table I-2 of the 2009 MUTCD that do not appear in this 
revised table have been eliminated.'' The FHWA adopts the elimination 
of the compliance dates in Table I-2, as proposed in the NPA, for 
Sections 2B.03, 2B.09, 2B.10, 2B.11, 2B.13, 2B.26, 2B.55, 2C.04, 2C.13, 
2C.20, 2C.30, 2C.38, 2C.40, 2C.41, 2C.42, 2C.46, 2C.49, 2C.50, 2C.61, 
2C.63, 2D.43 (two provisions), 2D.44, 2D.45, 2G.01 through 2G.07, 2G.11 
through 2G.15, 2H.05 and 2H.06, 2I.09, 2I.10, 2J.05, 2N.03, 3B.04 and 
3B.05, 3B.18, 4D.01, 4D.31, 4E.07, 5C.05, 7B.11, 7B.12, 7B.16, 8B.19 
and 8C.02 through 8C.05, 8C.09, 8C.12, and 9B.18.
    The elimination of a compliance date for a given Standard contained 
in the MUTCD does not eliminate the regulatory requirement to comply 
with that Standard. The Standard itself remains in the MUTCD and 
applies to any new installations, but the compliance date for replacing 
noncompliant devices that exist in the field is eliminated. To further 
clarify, any new installation of an existing noncompliant device (such 
as moving a noncompliant device to another location) would also have to 
comply with the Standard upon installation
    2. The FHWA proposed to extend the compliance date by approximately 
2 years for the provision in Section 2A.08 that requires agencies to 
implement an assessment or management method designed to maintain sign 
retroreflectivity at or above the established minimum levels. As part 
of this proposal, the FHWA proposed to limit this particular compliance 
date to apply only to regulatory and warning signs. This compliance 
date does not require replacement of any signs by a particular date. 
Rather, it requires highway agencies to implement an assessment or 
management method for maintaining sign retroreflectivity, in accordance 
with section 406 of the Department of Transportation and Related 
Agencies Appropriations Act, 1993 (Pub. L. 102-388; October 6, 1992), 
by the compliance date. Safety advocacy organizations, the ARTBA, one 
State DOT, and some industry representatives generally disagreed with 
the proposal. The ATSSA and some State DOTs agreed with the extension 
for implementing an assessment/management method, but requested that 
guide signs not be excluded. However, many agencies stated that 
including guide signs in the assessment method would limit funds that 
could be used for other projects. The FHWA disagrees with including 
guide signs at this time because regulatory and warning signs 
constitute the highest priority for assessing retroreflectivity of 
existing signs. The FHWA, therefore, adopts the revisions as proposed 
in the final rule. The additional cost of including guide signs would 
increase the economic burden on agencies, whose funds are limited due 
to the current economic climate. The revisions to the compliance date 
and its applicability will provide relief and enable agencies to 
determine when their resources will allow them to add signs, other than 
regulatory and warning signs, to their assessment or management method. 
Several commenters noted the confusion and potential for 
misinterpretation introduced by limiting the compliance date to 
regulatory and warning signs. The FHWA reiterates that the language in 
Section 2A.08 still requires agencies to establish a method for all 
types of signs, but understands that limiting the compliance date to 
regulatory and warning signs could lead some agencies to mistakenly 
think that guide signs would never be required to be included in an 
agency's method. In addition, because the MUTCD requirement is for a 
method rather than a device, it is unclear how agencies would interpret 
the application of ``systematic upgrading'' (applicable to MUTCD 
requirements that have no specific compliance date) in the case of 
adding guide signs to the agency's management or assessment method. The 
FHWA adds a footnote to Table I-2 to clarify that other types of signs 
are to be added to an agency's management or assessment method as 
resources allow. The FHWA believes that adding this footnote in the 
final rule, rather than being silent on the issue, will provide 
clarity. The FHWA adopts the extension of the compliance date from 
January 22, 2012, to 2 years after this final rule and adds a footnote 
as discussed above.
    In addition, the FHWA proposed in the NPA to eliminate the 
compliance dates for replacement of signs found not to meet the minimum 
retroreflectivity standards. The ATSSA, the ARTBA, other safety 
advocates, industry representatives, some States and cities, and 
several citizens disagreed with eliminating the January 22, 2015, and 
January 22, 2018, compliance dates and suggested that the dates instead 
be extended to 2018 and 2021, respectively. Even without a specific 
date, agencies will still need to replace any sign they identify as not 
meeting the established minimum retroreflectivity levels. Their 
schedules replacing the signs, however, would be based on resources and 
relative priorities, rather than specific compliance dates. As a 
result, the FHWA eliminates these compliance dates in the final rule.
    3. The FHWA proposed to extend the compliance dates for signal 
timing adjustments associated with vehicular

[[Page 28463]]

yellow and red clearance intervals in Section 4D.26 and pedestrian 
clearance intervals in Section 4E.06 from December 31, 2014, to 5 years 
after this final rule. The National Association of City Transportation 
Officials requested a further extension to 10 years after the final 
rule and Pennsylvania DOT suggested eliminating this date instead of 
extending it. The FHWA disagrees with extending the compliance date 
even further into the future or eliminating it, as the extension that 
was proposed in the NPA achieves a reasonable balance between the need 
for these critical safety retiming efforts and resource constraints. As 
mentioned in the NPA, the original compliance date of December 31, 2014 
published for the 2009 edition of the MUTCD was based on what FHWA 
believed to be the typical signal retiming frequency of about 5 years. 
This new proposed compliance date provides agencies with more than 2 
additional years to implement the new requirements of Sections 4D.26 
and 4E.06 at any locations that have not already been made compliant 
under a previous intersection or corridor retiming. Thus, the FHWA 
believes that it is reasonable for agencies to retime those signals by 
2017 that have not already been made compliant under a previous 
intersection or corridor retiming. The FHWA adopts the extension of the 
compliance dates for Sections 4D.26 and 4E.06 to 5 years after this 
final rule, or when timing adjustments are made to the individual 
intersections and/or corridor, whichever occurs first, as proposed in 
the NPA.
    4. In the NPA, the FHWA proposed to revise and extend the 
compliance dates in Sections 8B.03 and 8B.04 related to requiring 
retroreflective strips on the back of Crossbuck signs and on the front 
and back of supports for Crossbuck signs at passive railroad grade 
crossings (those crossings that do not have gates and/or flashing 
lights activated upon approach of a train). As discussed in the NPA, 
the FHWA proposed to extend this compliance date to December 31, 2019, 
which would coincide with the date for adding YIELD or STOP signs with 
Crossbuck signs at passive grade crossings so that railroad companies 
and highway agencies can avoid unnecessary expense and achieve greater 
economies of sending sign crews to crossings only once rather than 
twice. The FHWA also proposed to extend the compliance date to clarify 
that the requirements for retroreflective strips are in Section 8B.04 
as well as Section 8B.03 and to clarify that the compliance date was 
also intended to apply to the retroreflective strip on the backs of the 
Crossbuck signs. Two State DOTs and one consultant opposed this 
extension, suggesting instead that the dates be eliminated. Two 
commenters questioned the effectiveness of the devices but did not 
provide supporting evidence. As a result, the FHWA could not evaluate 
the commenters' effectiveness concerns. As to the suggestion of 
eliminating the compliance date entirely, the FHWA disagrees with those 
commenters because the extension proposed in the NPA provides an 
additional 9 years beyond the original 10-year compliance period 
established for this requirement in the 2000 edition of the MUTCD, 
while achieving the practical benefit of allowing agencies and 
companies to apply the retroreflective strips at the same time that 
they add YIELD or STOP signs at those same crossings. The FHWA adopts 
the revision and extension of this compliance date to December 31, 
2019, as proposed in the NPA.
    5. The FHWA proposed in the NPA to retain the existing target 
compliance dates for eight items that it deemed to be of critical 
safety importance, based on existing evidence, FHWA's subject matter 
expertise, and FHWA's experience in traffic control device matters. As 
stated in the NPA, final rules establishing compliance dates for each 
of the eight items clearly identified the safety justification for the 
compliance dates established. As a general comment, the NCUTCD, the 
NACE, three State DOTs, two cities, and two State associations of 
engineers requested that all retained compliance dates be justified by 
a benefit/cost analysis in accordance with Executive Order 13563. The 
FHWA disagrees that such an analysis is necessary because the 
compliance dates are already in the MUTCD and were put in place prior 
to the issuance of the Executive Order. This rulemaking is not 
establishing new, more burdensome dates for these items and is actually 
relieving burdens associated with many existing compliance dates. The 
following paragraphs describe the concerns that commenters expressed 
specifically related to the target compliance dates retained by the 
FHWA.
    The FHWA proposed to retain the January 17, 2013, target compliance 
date for provisions in Section 2A.19 requiring crashworthiness of 
existing sign supports on roads with posted speed limits of 50 miles 
per hour (mph) or higher. This compliance date was established in the 
2003 edition of the MUTCD. The AASHTO, the NCUTCD, the NACE, four State 
DOTs, a city, and a state association of engineers requested extension 
of the January 17, 2013, compliance date to 2019, or the end of the 
useful life of the sign supports (with no specific compliance date), 
rather than retaining the existing compliance date. The commenters did 
not provide supporting evidence for their position. The FHWA disagrees 
with eliminating or extending the compliance date because eliminating 
fixed-object hazards on high-speed roads remains a critical safety need 
due to the potential for death or severe injury that can result from 
high-speed, run-off-the-road crashes when non-crashworthy sign supports 
are struck. The following data on fatal crashes on roads with speed 
limits of 50 mph or higher, where a sign support was the ``most harmful 
event,'' was obtained from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System 
(FARS).\2\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \2\ http://www.nhtsa.gov/FARS.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                       Year
       Most harmful event        -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                       2005            2006            2007            2008            2009
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
Highway Sign Post...............              47              56              54              71              53
Overhead Sign Support...........               9               9              12              17              12
                                 -------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Total Fatalities............              56              65              66              88              65
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

During the 5-year period from 2005 to 2009, on average each year, 68 
fatalities occurred that can be attributed to collisions with sign 
supports. The most recent year where full data is available is 2009. 
The data does not differentiate between crashworthy and non-crashworthy 
supports. However, based on this data, if the compliance date was

[[Page 28464]]

extended by 6 years, about 400 potential fatalities might occur during 
that time. Collisions with sign supports are the cause of about 15 
percent of the total fatalities involving poles of any sort. 
Nevertheless, they represent a significant problem on high-speed roads. 
To address this problem, in late 2000, the MUTCD addressed this issue 
by adding a requirement for a 10-year compliance date (2013), which was 
formally adopted in 2003. By 2013, agencies will have had 12 years to 
comply. The FHWA adopts the retention of the existing January 17, 2013, 
compliance date for this item, as proposed in the NPA.
    For provisions in Section 2B.40 that require agencies to install 
additional ONE WAY signs at certain types of intersections, the FHWA 
proposed retaining the target compliance date of December 31, 2019, as 
established in the 2009 edition of the MUTCD. Two State DOTs and a 
county disagreed with retaining the existing compliance date and asked 
that the date be eliminated instead. The FHWA adopts the retention of 
the existing compliance date for this item, as proposed in the NPA, 
because of the safety issues associated with wrong-way travel on 
divided highways (the subject of a current National Transportation 
Safety Board (NTSB) investigation), research on the needs of older 
drivers, and the significant safety benefits to road users that the 
addition of such signs may provide.\3\
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    \3\ ``Guidelines and Recommendations to Accommodate Older 
Drivers and Pedestrians,'' FHWA Report No. FHWA-RD-01-051, May 2001, 
can be viewed at the following Internet Web site: http://www.tfhrc.gov/humanfac/01105/cover.htm. Recommendations I.E(4), 
I.K(2), and I.K(3).
---------------------------------------------------------------------------

    The FHWA proposed in the NPA to retain the December 31, 2019, 
target compliance date for the provisions in Sections 2C.06 through 
2C.14 that require the use of various horizontal alignment warning 
signs and determinations of advisory speed values, adopted in the 2009 
edition of the MUTCD. The AASHTO, the NCUTCD, the NACE, eight State 
DOTs, one city, a State association of engineers, and a consultant 
requested postponing the existing compliance date until National 
Cooperative Highway Research Program (NCHRP) Project 03-106 (``Traffic 
Control Device Guidelines for Curves'') confirms or disproves the costs 
and benefits of these warning signs, rather than retaining the date. 
The FHWA disagrees with extending the date because the NCHRP research 
is due to be completed by the end of 2015, which is 4 years before the 
compliance date. Four years allows sufficient time for revision of the 
2019 date, if necessary. As stated in the NPA, the FHWA established the 
10-year compliance date due to the safety issues associated with run-
off-the-road crashes at horizontal curves and the disproportionate 
number of fatalities at horizontal curves on the Nation's highways. The 
FHWA adopts the retention of the existing compliance date for this 
item, as proposed in the NPA.
    One State DOT disagreed with the FHWA's proposal in the NPA to 
retain the December 31, 2014, compliance date associated with requiring 
the use of LEFT EXIT plaques on guide signs for left exits established 
in Sections 2E.31, 2E.33, and 2E.36 of the 2009 edition of the MUTCD. 
The State DOT suggested eliminating, rather than retaining, the 
compliance date. The FHWA disagrees, because the 5-year target 
compliance date was established to address a recommendation of the NTSB 
arising from a significant safety concern with left-hand exits. The 
NTSB made a specific recommendation that the implementation of the LEFT 
plaque at left-hand exits be accelerated with a 5-year compliance date 
due to the fact that left-hand exits, though relatively rare, continue 
to violate driver expectancy at freeway and expressway locations. The 
lack of clear notice of a left-hand exit was cited as a contributing 
factor in a 2007 fatal crash of a motorcoach that inadvertently 
departed the freeway lanes at a left-hand exit. The FHWA adopts the 
retention of the December 31, 2014, compliance date in the final rule. 
As stated in the NPA, the installation of these plaques generally does 
not require replacement of the existing sign or sign support and this 
change affects relatively few existing locations throughout the 
country.
    As proposed in the NPA, the FHWA adopts the retention of the 
existing December 31, 2011, target compliance date associated with the 
requirements in Sections 6D.03, 6E.02, and 7D.04 that all workers, 
including flaggers and school crossing guards must wear high-visibility 
apparel within the right-of-way of all highways, not just Federal-aid 
highways. Although a consultant suggested that the compliance date for 
high-visibility apparel should be eliminated because the compliance 
date will have expired by the time the final rule becomes effective, 
the FHWA retains the existing compliance date. Due to safety concerns 
and minimal costs, the FHWA does not believe agencies that have not yet 
complied should be relieved from compliance at the earliest possible 
time.
    Finally, as proposed in the NPA, the FHWA adopts the retention of 
the existing December 31, 2019, target compliance date for the 
provisions in Section 8B.04 that require the use of either a YIELD or 
STOP sign with the Crossbuck sign at all passive grade crossings. Two 
State DOTs and a consultant disagreed with retaining the existing 
compliance date, suggesting that the date be eliminated. One of these 
commenters stated that this signing was only minimally effective and 
that compliance by the existing date was too costly but did not provide 
any evidence for either of these statements. The FHWA disagrees, 
because the 10-year compliance period provides adequate time to install 
these signs and because research has found the signs are needed to 
improve grade crossing safety.\4\
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    \4\ See NCHRP Report 470: Traffic-Control Devices for Passive 
Railroad-Highway Grade Crossings, available at http://onlinepubs.trb.org/onlinepubs/nchrp/nchrp_rpt_470-a.pdf.
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Discussion of Comments on Section 2D.43 and Adopted Revisions

    Comments on the provisions of Section 2D.43 regarding Street Name 
signs were submitted to the docket by officials and citizens of the 
Township of Lower Merion, Pennsylvania, the Town of Brookline, 
Massachusetts, citizens of Saugerties and Forest Hills, New York, and 
the organization Historic New England. The comments stated that the 
communities have ``historic'' Street Name signs that do not meet the 
Standards and Guidance of Section 2D.43 regarding color, letter size, 
and other design features, including retroreflectivity. These 
communities asked for an exemption from the MUTCD so that they can 
retain their historic Street Name signs without fear of noncompliance 
with the MUTCD. These docket comments are similar to other concerns 
raised previously to the FHWA by two other communities (Fox Point, 
Wisconsin, and Waverly, Pennsylvania). The FHWA understands the desire 
of some communities to retain truly historic Street Name signs that are 
a key component of maintaining the historic character and environment 
of a particular district.
    The FHWA agrees to provide flexibility for communities with 
historic Street Name signs that do not meet the provisions of the 
MUTCD, where the community deems the historic Street Name signs to meet 
the need for effective navigational information to road users. However, 
the FHWA believes that such flexibility is appropriate only in specific 
circumstances and lower risk situations. The Code of Federal 
Regulations, in 36 CFR part 60, governs the listing on the

[[Page 28465]]

National Register of Historic Places (NRHP) of historic districts and 
structures such as Street Name signs. Specifically, 36 CFR 60.4 
provides criteria for evaluating a district to be identified as a 
historic district and for evaluating a system of structures, such as 
Street Name signs, to be identified as historic structures.
    Therefore, the FHWA adds a new OPTION paragraph at the end of 
Section 2D.43 stating, ``On lower speed roadways, historic street name 
signs within locally identified historic districts that are consistent 
with the criteria contained in 36 CFR 60.4 for such structures and 
districts may be used without complying with the provisions of 
Paragraphs 3, 4, 6, 9, 12 through 14, and 18 through 20 of this 
section.''
    The FHWA believes that the vast majority of what is expected to be 
a fairly small number of historic Street Name signs meeting the 
criteria will be on local roads with speed limits of 25 mph or less. If 
a community decides to use the new OPTION to retain existing historic 
Street Name signs within a historic district, the FHWA believes it is 
important for the community to ensure that the historic Street Name 
signs provide at least some degree of utility as navigational devices 
for road users. External illumination of the Street Name signs should 
be considered for this purpose. It is also important to note that the 
OPTION applies only to historic Street Name signs in historic districts 
meeting the eligibility criteria of 36 CFR 60.4 and does not apply to 
other types of traffic signs or devices, nor to locations outside of 
historic districts.

Rulemaking Analyses and Notices

Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review), Executive Order 
13563 (Improving Regulation and Regulatory Review), and DOT Regulatory 
Policies and Procedures

    The FHWA has determined that this action constitutes a significant 
regulatory action within the meaning of Executive Order 12866 and 
within the meaning of DOT regulatory policies and procedures due to the 
significant public interest in issues surrounding the MUTCD. This 
action complies with Executive Orders 12866 and 13563 to improve 
regulation. In particular, this action is consistent with, and can be 
seen as directly responsive to, the requirements of Executive Order 
13563, and in particular its requirement for retrospective analysis of 
existing rules (section 6), with an emphasis on streamlining its 
regulations. This approach is also consistent with Presidential 
Memorandum, Administrative Flexibility, which calls for reducing 
burdens and promoting flexibility for State and local governments.
    The changes in the MUTCD will reduce burdens on State and local 
government in the application of traffic control devices. They will 
provide additional clarification, guidance, and flexibility to such 
governments. The uniform application of traffic control devices will 
greatly improve roadway safety and traffic operations efficiency. The 
standards, guidance, options, and support are also used to create 
uniformity and to enhance safety and mobility. The changes in this 
rulemaking will not require the expenditure of additional funds, but 
rather will provide State and local governments with the flexibility to 
allocate scarce financial resources based on local conditions and the 
useful service life of its traffic control devices. It is anticipated 
that the economic impact of this rulemaking will be minimal and indeed 
costs and burdens will be reduced, not increased; therefore, a full 
regulatory evaluation is not required.
    As noted, this action streamlines existing significant regulation 
to reduce burden and promote the flexibilities of State and local 
governments under Executive Order 13563. In response to concerns about 
the potential impact of previously adopted MUTCD compliance dates on 
State and local governments in the current economic climate, the FHWA 
published a Request for Comments on traffic control device compliance 
dates. The FHWA asked for responses to a series of seven questions 
about compliance dates, their benefits and potential economic impacts, 
especially economic hardships to State and local governments that might 
result from specific target compliance dates for upgrading certain non-
compliant existing devices. The responses received from that notice 
were considered in the development of this final rule. The FHWA 
anticipates that this rulemaking will reduce the impacts of compliance 
dates on State and local highway agencies and will streamline and 
simplify information contained in the MUTCD without reducing safety. 
The FHWA has retained compliance dates where it is of critical safety 
importance.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    In compliance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (Pub. L. 96-354, 
5 U.S.C. 601-612), the FHWA has evaluated the effects these changes on 
small entities. I certify that this action will not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities because this 
rule will reduce burdens and provide clarification and additional 
flexibility, and will not require an expenditure of funds.

Executive Order 13132 (Federalism)

    This action has been analyzed in accordance with the principles and 
criteria contained in Executive Order 13132 dated August 4, 1999. This 
action will increase flexibility for State and local governments. The 
FHWA has determined that this action would not have sufficient 
federalism implications to warrant the preparation of a federalism 
assessment. The FHWA has also determined that this rulemaking will not 
preempt any State law or State regulation or affect the States' ability 
to discharge traditional State governmental functions. The MUTCD is 
incorporated by reference in 23 CFR part 655, subpart F. These proposed 
amendments are in keeping with the Secretary of Transportation's 
authority under 23 U.S.C. 109(d), 315, and 402(a) to promulgate uniform 
guidelines to promote the safe and efficient use of the highway. The 
overriding safety benefits of the uniformity prescribed by the MUTCD 
are shared by all of the State and local governments. In general, this 
rule will increase flexibility for States and local governments. To the 
extent that these amendments override any existing State requirements 
regarding traffic control devices, they do so in the interest of 
national uniformity.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

    This rule will not impose unfunded mandates as defined by the 
Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. L. 104-4, 109 Stat. 48, 
March 22, 1995). On the contrary, the rule provides additional 
guidance, flexibility, and clarification and would not require an 
expenditure of funds. This action will not result in the expenditure by 
State, local, and tribal governments, in the aggregate, or by the 
private sector, of $140.8 million or more in any 1 year (2 U.S.C. 
1532).

Executive Order 13175 (Tribal Consultation)

    The FHWA has analyzed this action under Executive Order 13175, 
dated November 6, 2000, and believes that it will not have substantial 
direct effects on one or more Indian tribes, will not impose 
substantial direct compliance costs on Indian tribal governments, and 
will not preempt tribal law. Therefore, a tribal summary impact 
statement is not required.

[[Page 28466]]

Executive Order 13211 (Energy Effects)

    The FHWA has analyzed this final rule under Executive Order 13211, 
Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy Supply, 
Distribution, or Use. The FHWA has determined that this is not a 
significant energy action under that order because it is not likely to 
have a significant adverse effect on the supply, distribution, or use 
of energy. Therefore, a Statement of Energy Effects under Executive 
Order 13211 is not required.

Executive Order 12372 (Intergovernmental Review)

    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Program Number 20.205, 
Highway Planning and Construction. The regulations implementing 
Executive Order 12372 regarding intergovernmental consultation on 
Federal programs and activities apply to this program.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3501, et 
seq.), Federal agencies must obtain approval from the Office of 
Management and Budget for each collection of information they conduct, 
sponsor, or require through regulations. The FHWA has determined that 
this action does not contain a collection of information requirement 
for the purposes of the PRA.

Executive Order 12988 (Civil Justice Reform)

    This action meets applicable standards in Sections 3(a) and 3(b)(2) 
of Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform, to minimize litigation, 
to eliminate ambiguity, and to reduce burden.

Executive Order 13045 (Protection of Children)

    The FHWA has analyzed this action under Executive Order 13045, 
Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and Safety 
Risks. This is not an economically significant action and does not 
concern an environmental risk to health or safety that might 
disproportionately affect children.

Executive Order 12630 (Taking of Private Property)

    This action would not affect a taking of private property or 
otherwise have taking implications under Executive Order 12630, 
Governmental Actions and Interference with Constitutionally Protected 
Property Rights.

National Environmental Policy Act

    The agency has analyzed this action for the purpose of the National 
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and has 
determined that it will not have any effect on the quality of the 
environment and meets the criteria for the categorical exclusion at 23 
CFR 771.117(c)(20).

Regulation Identification Number

    A regulation identification number (RIN) is assigned to each 
regulatory action listed in the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulations. 
The Regulatory Information Service Center publishes the Unified Agenda 
in April and October of each year. The RIN contained in the heading of 
this document can be used to cross reference this action with the 
Unified Agenda.

List of Subjects in 23 CFR Part 655

    Design standards, Grant programs--Transportation, Highways and 
roads, Incorporation by reference, Signs, Traffic regulations.

    Issued on: May 9, 2012.
Victor M. Mendez,
Administrator.

    In consideration of the foregoing, the FHWA is amending title 23, 
Code of Federal Regulations, part 655, subpart F as follows:

PART 655--TRAFFIC OPERATIONS

0
1. The authority citation for part 655 continues to read as follows:

    Authority:  23 U.S.C. 101(a), 104, 109(d), 114(a), 217, 315 and 
402(a); 23 CFR 1.32; and 49 CFR 1.48(b).

Subpart F--[Amended]

0
2. Revise Sec.  655.601 to read as follows:


Sec.  655.601  Purpose.

    To prescribe the policies and procedures of the Federal Highway 
Administration (FHWA) to obtain basic uniformity of traffic control 
devices on all streets and highways in accordance with the following 
references that are approved by the FHWA for application on Federal-aid 
projects:
    (a) MUTCD.
    (b) AASHTO Guide to Metric Conversion.
    (c) AASHTO Traffic Engineering Metric Conversion Factors.
    (d) The standards required in this section are incorporated by 
reference into this section in accordance with 5 U.S.C. 552(a) and 1 
CFR part 51. To enforce any edition other than that specified in this 
section, the FHWA must publish notice of change in the Federal Register 
and the material must be available to the public. All approved material 
is available for inspection at the Federal Highway Administration, 
Office of Transportation Operations, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE., 
Washington, DC 20590, (202) 366-8043 and is available from the sources 
listed below. It is also available for inspection at the National 
Archives and Records Administration (NARA). For information on the 
availability of this material at NARA call (202) 741-6030, or go to 
http://www.archives.gov/federal-register/cfr/index.html.
    (1) AASHTO, American Association of State Highway and 
Transportation Officials, Suite 249, 444 North Capitol Street NW., 
Washington, DC 20001
    (i) AASHTO Guide to Metric Conversion, 1993;
    (ii) AASHTO, Traffic Engineering Metric Conversion Factors, 1993--
Addendum to the Guide to Metric Conversion, October 1993.
    (2) FHWA, Federal Highway Administration, 1200 New Jersey Avenue 
SE., Washington, DC 20590, telephone (202) 366-1993, also available at 
http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov.
    (i) Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and 
Highways (MUTCD), 2009 Edition, including Revisions No. 1 and No. 2, 
FHWA, dated May 2012.
    (ii) [Reserved]

[FR Doc. 2012-11710 Filed 5-10-12; 4:15 pm]
BILLING CODE 4910-22-P