[Federal Register Volume 78, Number 8 (Friday, January 11, 2013)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Pages 2347-2350]
From the Federal Register Online via the Government Printing Office [www.gpo.gov]
[FR Doc No: 2013-00373]


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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Highway Administration

23 CFR Part 655

[FHWA Docket No. FHWA-2012-0118]


National Standards for Traffic Control Devices; the Manual on 
Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways; Notification 
and Request for Comment

AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), DOT.

ACTION: Notification; request for comment.

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SUMMARY: The Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) is 
incorporated in our regulations, approved by the Federal Highway 
Administration, and recognized as the national standard for traffic 
control devices used on all streets, highways, bikeways, and private 
roads open to public travel. Consistent with Executive Order 13563, and 
in particular its emphasis on burden-reduction and on retrospective 
analysis of existing rules, this document requests comments on 
potential formats for restructuring the MUTCD into two documents, one 
that would be subject to rulemaking and one that would contain 
supplemental information that is not subject to rulemaking. This 
document asks for responses to a series of questions regarding formats, 
types of material to be included in each document, implications on 
agency acceptance of the MUTCD, ease of use, and effects on future 
MUTCD updates.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before March 12, 2013.

ADDRESSES: Mail or hand deliver comments to the U.S. Department of 
Transportation, Dockets Management Facility, Room W12-140, 1200 New 
Jersey Avenue SE., Washington, DC 20590, or fax comments to (202) 493-
2251. Alternatively, comments may be submitted to the Federal 
eRulemaking portal at http://www.regulations.gov. All comments must 
include the docket number that appears in the heading of this document. 
All comments received will be available for examination and copying at 
the above address from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., e.t., Monday through Friday, 
except Federal holidays. Those desiring notification of receipt of 
comments must include a self-addressed, stamped postcard or you may 
print the acknowledgment page that appears after submitting comments 
electronically. Anyone is able to search the electronic form of all 
comments in any one of our dockets by the name of the individual 
submitting the comment (or signing the comment, if submitted on behalf 
of an association, business, or labor union). Anyone may review DOT's 
complete Privacy Act Statement in the Federal Register published on 
April 11, 2000 (Volume 65, Number 70, Pages 19477-78).

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: For questions about the program 
discussed herein, contact Mr. Chung Eng, MUTCD Team Leader, FHWA Office 
of Transportation Operations, (202) 366-8043 or via email at 
chung.eng@dot.gov. For legal questions, please contact Mr. William 
Winne, Office of the Chief Counsel, (202) 366-1397, or via email at 
william.winne@dot.gov. Office hours are from 8:00 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., 
e.t., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Electronic Access and Filing

    You may submit or retrieve comments online through the Federal 
eRulemaking portal at: http://www.regulations.gov. The Web site is 
available 24 hours each day, 365 days each year. Please follow the 
instructions. Electronic submission and retrieval help and guidelines 
are available under the help section of the Web site. An electronic 
copy of this document may also be downloaded from the Office of the 
Federal Register's home page at: http://www.archives.gov and the 
Government Printing Office's Web page at: http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara.

Purpose of This Notification

    The FHWA is interested in examining how to provide a simpler, 
streamlined MUTCD through restructuring the content into two separate 
documents_one with material deemed critical to traffic control device 
design, application or traffic safety that would be subject to 
rulemaking, and one containing supplemental application information 
that would not be subject to rulemaking. This action promotes a more 
responsive and efficient government. It is consistent with the 
requirements of Executive Order 13563, and in particular its 
requirement for retrospective analysis of existing rules, with an 
emphasis on streamlining its regulations. This action is also 
consistent with Presidential Memorandum, Administrative Flexibility, 
which calls for reducing burdens and promoting flexibility for State 
and local governments.
    The purpose of this document is to present a discussion of 
potential formats for a restructured MUTCD as well as to provide 
descriptions and examples of the types of material that could 
potentially be moved from the MUTCD to the Applications Supplement, 
including examples showing two restructuring options with text from 
Chapter 2B of the 2009 MUTCD. The examples can be viewed at 
www.regulations.gov under the docket number listed in the heading of 
this document. The FHWA is seeking comments from all interested parties 
to help the FHWA in further examining these issues and in evaluating 
potential future alternative courses of action. Specifically, the FHWA 
seeks input on the type of material to be included in the MUTCD and the 
Applications Supplement, as well as the formats for both documents. 
This document also includes a set of specific questions for which the 
FHWA requests input. While there are specific questions presented on 
aspects associated with restructuring the MUTCD, comments and input may 
be offered on any part of this notification.

Background

    The MUTCD is incorporated by reference within Federal regulations 
at 23 CFR part 655, approved by the FHWA, and recognized as the 
national standard for traffic control devices used on all public roads. 
The FHWA has received comments from a variety of parties expressing 
concerns about the size and complexity in application of the MUTCD as 
it has evolved over the decades. To address those issues, the FHWA is 
exploring the possibility of separating the MUTCD into two documents.
    Since its inception in 1935, the MUTCD has grown from slightly over 
150 pages to more than 850 pages. The most significant expansion in the 
number of pages in the MUTCD has occurred in the last three editions, 
the

[[Page 2348]]

2000, 2003, and the 2009 Editions. The size and complexity of the MUTCD 
has significantly increased, in large part because of an expansion of 
the number of devices included in the MUTCD and the desire to provide 
more specifics in conveying the intent of the language in order to 
avoid uncertainty. Along with the expanded content, the layout of the 
MUTCD has changed over the years to its current format with four 
headings (Standard, Guidance, Option, and Support) and three font 
styles (regular, bold, and italic). The four headings of Standard, 
Guidance, Option, and Support are defined as:
    1. Standard--a statement of required, mandatory, or specifically 
prohibitive practice regarding a traffic control device.
    2. Guidance--a statement of recommended, but not mandatory, 
practice in typical situations.
    3. Option--a statement of practice that is a permissive condition 
and carries no requirement or recommendation.
    4. Support--an informational statement that does not convey any 
degree of mandate, recommendation, authorization, prohibition, or 
enforceable condition.
    The increase in the size and complexity of the MUTCD results in a 
lengthy rulemaking process for incorporating changes (new devices, 
clarifications, corrections, etc.). A larger and more complex MUTCD 
also makes it more difficult to find material within the manual because 
of the amount of information provided. In addition, some users of the 
MUTCD have expressed concerns that due to the amount of detail 
included, the MUTCD is becoming too prescriptive rather than allowing 
engineering judgment to optimize the traffic control device decision 
for a particular situation or location.
    In response to the interest for a simpler, streamlined MUTCD, the 
FHWA is requesting public comment on the option of splitting the 
material in the MUTCD into two separate documents:
     MUTCD--The MUTCD itself would be the document incorporated 
by reference into the Code of Federal Regulations (CFR) as the national 
standard for all traffic control devices. The publication of this 
document, and any subsequent updates, would be subject to the 
rulemaking process. It could contain Standard statements, and 
potentially Guidance statements that are considered to be critical to 
traffic control device design, application, or traffic safety, as well 
as Option statements that provide exceptions to these Standard and 
Guidance statements.
     Applications Supplement--The second document would be an 
``applications supplement'' that would include recommendations and best 
practices and would be a companion document to the MUTCD. Material from 
the 2009 MUTCD that is not included in the next edition of the 
restructured MUTCD would form the core of the companion document. It is 
possible that the companion document would also contain useful 
information brought in from other sources such as ``The Grade Crossing 
Handbook'' and ``The Roundabout Guide.'' The companion document could 
be updated whenever needed without requiring rulemaking to do so. The 
Applications Supplement would not be incorporated by reference into the 
CFR, and compliance with it would be encouraged, but not legally 
required.
    The MUTCD and the initial edition of the Applications Supplement 
would both be available on the MUTCD Web site in electronic format and 
each document would include hotlinks to assist readers who use the 
electronic versions of the MUTCD and the Applications Supplement in 
navigating through the many cross-references that are contained within 
both documents. Hotlinks to cross-referenced chapters, sections, 
figures, and tables; pop-up definitions; links to external documents 
and Web sites; and links to official interpretations would be made 
available, similar to the current hotlinks version of the 2009 MUTCD 
available on the Web site today.

Discussion of Restructuring

    Because of the large audience with interest in the MUTCD, there are 
numerous thoughts and opinions related to the type and amount of 
information that should be retained in the MUTCD. The FHWA has given 
initial consideration to the type of material to include in each 
document, balancing the desire to retain material deemed critical to 
traffic control device design, application or traffic safety in the 
MUTCD, while moving supplemental application information to the 
Applications Supplement.
    In addition to the efforts underway within the FHWA, the National 
Cooperative Highway Research Program has initiated a parallel effort 
(NCHRP Project 20-07/Task 323) to develop a long-range vision and 
strategic plan for the MUTCD.\1\ The NCHRP effort is addressing many 
different issues related to the future of the MUTCD. The NCHRP project 
has developed a series of white papers on critical MUTCD issues and is 
soliciting public comment on those white papers.\2\ Examples of white 
paper topics include: The purpose of the MUTCD, the MUTCD target 
audience, the appropriate level of detail for content, and options for 
dividing the MUTCD into multiple documents. Readers are encouraged to 
review the background and supplementary material related to the past, 
present, and future of the MUTCD discussed in this research effort. 
Although both the FHWA staff and the NCHRP research team are 
coordinating their efforts, readers that have an interest in each 
activity should submit comments to both this request for comments and 
the NCHRP project Web site.
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    \1\ General information about the NCHRP Project 20-07/Task 323 
can be viewed at the following Internet Web site: http://apps.trb.org/cmsfeed/TRBNetProjectDisplay.asp?ProjectID=3203.
    \2\ The white papers and public comments are available on the 
project Web site: http://mutcd.tamu.edu/.
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    The spectrum of ideas related to the amount of material to be 
contained in the MUTCD and the Applications Supplement has led the FHWA 
to develop two possible restructuring alternatives.
    1. Option A would retain Standard statements and important Guidance 
statements, along with associated Option statements in the MUTCD. 
Support statements and stand-alone Option statements (those that are 
not exceptions to the Standard and Guidance statements that were 
retained in the MUTCD) would be moved from the MUTCD to the 
Applications Supplement.
    2. Option B would move a greater amount of information from the 
MUTCD to the Applications Supplement, retaining in the MUTCD only 
Standard statements and any related Option statements that contain 
exceptions to the Standard statements.

For both Options A and B, material from the 2009 MUTCD that is not 
included in the next edition of the restructured MUTCD would form the 
core of the Applications Supplement. To serve as a document that is 
easily relatable to the MUTCD provisions on the same subject, the 
Applications Supplement document would need to be written and organized 
in a manner that makes it a cohesive stand-alone document that is fully 
consistent with the MUTCD. Among the larger items that would likely be 
moved to the Applications Supplement would be most of the figures 
illustrating how to apply the provisions of the MUTCD, including all of 
the Typical Applications in Chapter 6H, as well as most of the material 
in chapters such as

[[Page 2349]]

4C, 6G, and 6I. The Applications Supplement could potentially be 
expanded to include useful information brought in from other sources 
and could be updated whenever needed without requiring rulemaking to do 
so.
    The FHWA perceives several benefits to the development of a stand-
alone Applications Supplement. For example, the Applications Supplement 
could include a chapter providing users with references on where to 
find subject area information regarding traffic control treatment of a 
particular roadway feature, such as roundabouts. Such a chapter would 
list sections in the MUTCD, as well as sections in the Applications 
Supplement, that users could reference for signing and markings at 
roundabouts, including treatment of pedestrians at roundabouts and how 
roundabouts relate to nearby at-grade railroad crossings. Another 
example is that supplemental material regarding emerging and innovative 
traffic control devices could be more easily disseminated and used by 
engineers interested in their applications, without the delays 
associated with updating the MUTCD.

Discussion of Material in Separate Documents

    For the purpose of illustrating the separation of current 2009 
MUTCD material into two documents, FHWA developed examples showing two 
possible options for Sections 2B.01 through 2B.18 and Sections 2B.37 
through 2B.42 of Chapter 2B Regulatory Signs, Barricades, and Gates. 
These examples are available for review on www.regulations.gov under 
the docket number listed in the heading of this document. In order to 
make a comparison with the existing material in the 2009 MUTCD easier, 
no improvements were made in these examples to the text, figures, or 
tables of the existing 2009 MUTCD other than those directly related to 
the development of the alternative format. Readers are encouraged to 
view Options A and B, along with the comparison documents for each 
Option, which describe the revisions that were made in the development 
of each of the examples. The files illustrating Options A and B 
formatted for the MUTCD and the Applications Supplement are also 
embedded with hotlinks from the MUTCD to the Applications Supplement 
and vice versa in order to illustrate how users would interact with 
both documents. Where an ``AS'' in a blue box is placed to the left of 
the section heading in the MUTCD, a direct link to the same section in 
the Applications Supplement is available. Where an ``M'' in a blue box 
is placed to the left of the section heading in the Applications 
Supplement, a direct link to the same section in the MUTCD is 
available. In addition, all of the chapter, section, figure, and table 
titles, and all of the page numbers in the Applications Supplement have 
a parenthetical suffix of ``(AS)'' immediately following the ``2B'' to 
distinguish the Applications Supplement from the MUTCD. Readers can 
access all of these files from the Docket. The following paragraphs 
explain some of the differences between the content and formatting used 
for Options A and B.
    There are only Standard statements in Section 2B.14 of the 2009 
MUTCD. Please note in the Option A Applications Supplement that the 
title for this section is included in the Option A Applications 
Supplement along with parenthetical text that informs the reader that 
``there is no supplemental information for this section.'' Accordingly, 
there is no ``AS'' in a blue box to the left of the Section 2B.14 
heading in the MUTCD.
    Because the Option B MUTCD is comprised almost exclusively of 
Standard statements with only an occasional related Option paragraph, 
showing Standard statements in bold font resulted in an awkward looking 
document that was almost entirely bold-faced type. As a result, the 
section titles were lost in the mix. Thus, regular font is used for the 
Standard statements and italicized font is used to distinguish the few 
Option paragraphs. Because italics are used for the Option statements 
in the MUTCD, the Option statements in the Option B Applications 
Supplement are also italicized for consistency. This resulted in a need 
for doing something different than italics for the Guidance statements 
in the Option B Applications Supplement. Because there are no Standard 
statements in the Option B Applications Supplement, bold-faced type was 
available for the Guidance statements to distinguish them from the 
Support statements.
    There are no Standard statements in Sections 2B.06 and 2B.07 of the 
2009 MUTCD. In the Option B Applications Supplement these sections were 
incorporated into Section 2B(AS).05 and the section titles were 
included as subheadings because of the length of the consolidated 
section. There are also no Standard statements in Section 2B.38 of the 
2009 MUTCD. In the Option B Applications Supplement this section was 
incorporated into Section 2B(AG).37 and the section title for Section 
2B.37 was revised in both the Option B MUTCD and the Option B 
Applications Supplement to reflect this consolidation of material. Even 
though the only Standard statement in Section 2B.37 of the Option B 
MUTCD relates to DO NOT ENTER signs, the reader is alerted to the fact 
that WRONG WAY signs are included in the corresponding section of the 
Option B Applications Supplement. Similarly, there are only Standard 
statements in Section 2B.14 of the 2009 MUTCD. In the Option B 
Applications Supplement the title for this section (which has been 
renumbered as Section 2B(AS).12) is included in the Option B 
Applications Supplement along with parenthetical text that informs the 
reader that ``there is no supplemental information for this section.'' 
Accordingly, there is no ``AS'' in a blue box to the left of the 
Section 2B.12 heading in the MUTCD.
    For the purpose of this Request for Comments, it was not practical 
for FHWA to develop examples for the entire MUTCD; however, the FHWA 
has given some initial thought as to the separation of content in 
several other parts of the manual. In addition to most of the support 
paragraphs and stand-alone option paragraphs, following are examples of 
other items from some of the chapters that could be moved from the 
MUTCD to the Applications Supplement:

------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                  Sections that could be moved to the
         MUTCD Part                     Applications Supplement
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Part 4......................  Chapters 4A and 4B, Chapter 4C (with
                               Standard statements either reduced to
                               Guidance or moved to other places in Part
                               4), Section 4D.02, Section 4D.33, and
                               Figures 4D-1, 4D-2, 4D-6 through 4D-20,
                               4E-1, 4E-2, 4E-3, and 4E-4.
Part 6......................  Sections 6G, 6H, and 6I.
Part 8......................  Section 8A.06, and Figures 8B-5, 8B-6, 8B-
                               8, 8B-9, 8C-2, 8C-4 through 8C-10, and 8D-
                               1.
Part 9......................  Figures 9B-5, 9B-6, 9B-7, 9B-8, 9C-1, 9C-
                               2, 9C-4, 9C-5, 9C-6, and 9C-8.
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Questions

    The FHWA requests input on each of the following questions. In 
addition, comments and input may be offered on any part of this notice.
    1. Regardless of the ultimate restructuring format chosen, would 
you support separating the current material in the MUTCD into two 
documents? Please explain your reasoning for supporting or opposing the 
concept of having two documents.
    2. Referring to the examples shown for Chapter 2B, should the 
format of the MUTCD and the Applications Supplement remain consistent 
between the two documents? For example, should the same headings, such 
as ``Support'' and ``Option'' be used in the Applications Supplement? 
Should the type of section, figure, and table numbering remain 
consistent between the MUTCD and the Applications Supplement? Should 
the sections in the Applications Supplement have a one-to-one 
correspondence to the sections of the MUTCD, even if that means that 
some sections of the Applications Supplement would either be skipped or 
simply have a sentence that says something such as ``No additional 
guidance is available for this section''?
    3. Regarding the philosophy of the type of material to retain in 
the MUTCD versus the Applications Supplement, does Option A move enough 
material to the Applications Supplement, thus achieving the goal of a 
streamlined MUTCD, or does Option B better achieve the intended result 
while maintaining the appropriate balance to retain material deemed 
critical to traffic control device design and road user safety in the 
MUTCD? Please explain the reasoning for your response to this question.
    4. How would restructuring the MUTCD affect the approval process of 
the MUTCD in your State? If your State develops a supplement to the 
MUTCD or creates its own State MUTCD that is in substantial conformance 
with the National MUTCD, how would restructuring the National MUTCD 
impact your organization?
    5. Describe the use of the printed version of the MUTCD within your 
agency compared to the electronic version. Which users prefer the 
printed version and which users prefer the electronic version? Why?
    6. In addition to providing hotlinks between the new MUTCD and the 
Applications Supplement, would providing hotlinks in the Applications 
Supplement to supplementary documents or additional resources be 
helpful or more cumbersome for MUTCD users? Should the important 
elements of the additional resources be incorporated into the 
Applications Supplement?
    7. After the initial edition of the Applications Supplement is 
developed by the FHWA as a part of the process of developing the next 
edition of the MUTCD, should the FHWA continue to maintain and update 
the Applications Supplement, or should some other organization or group 
take on this responsibility? Please explain the reasoning for your 
response to this question. If you feel that another organization should 
be responsible for the Applications Supplement, please provide thoughts 
on the appropriate organization and why.
    8. Is there an advantage to the FHWA (or some other organization or 
group) making revisions to the Applications Supplement without seeking 
public comments and why? Should there be a structured process for 
making revisions to the Applications Supplement? If yes, what should 
this involve and who should be included in the process? How often 
should this occur?
    9. Should the FHWA consider other options for splitting MUTCD 
content into separate documents? Please explain.

    Authority:  23 U.S.C. 101(a), 104, 109(d), 114(a), 217, 315, and 
402(a); 23 CFR 1.32; and, 49 CFR 1.85.

    Issued on: December 20, 2012.
Victor M. Mendez,
Administrator.
[FR Doc. 2013-00373 Filed 1-10-13; 8:45 am]
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