Sign Management with PubWorks


Organizations that manage roadways often struggle with how to effectively manage signs and keep compliant with Federal Highway management standards. The maintenance and replacement of road signs is incredibly important but can be a difficult undertaking. 

According to Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) statistics, approximately 42,000 people die annually on U.S. roads. Some of these fatalities are due to poor sign maintenance, especially during evening driving hours. Add to this the fact as the driving population ages, their ability to see at night is diminished – highlighting the need for fully reflective signs.

Because of this, effective sign management is essential to driver safety. Following sign retroreflectivity standards, as outlined by the FHWA is of utmost importance as the majority of fatalities occur during nighttime drive hours, while only a quarter of vehicle travel occurs at night. 

Retroreflectivity is a term used to describe a type of reflection that redirects light from headlights back toward its source. MUTCD outlines retroreflective requirements for signs, which helps improve sign visibility, especially at night. While there are specific requirements for sign retroreflectivity, there are various options to maintain and manage signs. The most important first step is to implement a sign maintenance plan.

Assessment Options


Individual Testing: Testing each sign individually can take the most time but it is also the most thorough. To accomplish this, set a plan to periodically test each sign in your inventory. The actually testing might be accomplished by roadway or district or neighborhood but tracking which signs were tested and whether or not that passed of failed the inspection test is critical to proper management and replacement.

Control Test-by-Type: To save time, you can plan to test each sign type. A minimum of three signs per type of sheeting material and color should be monitored. These control signs must be measured/inspected at given intervals with a retroreflectometer to determine how well they are performing. These retroreflective test values should be compared to minimum retroreflectivity levels in order to trigger sign replacement actions. Once the retroreflectivity levels of the control signs reach the minimum retroreflectivity levels, all signs of that type should be replaced.


Blanket Replacement: Another option is to set a plan to replace all signs over a certain period of time. This can be done on an area basis or based on specific type. By Area: All the signs in a specific area or corridor are slated for replacement when the effective service life is reached. By Type: all the signs of a specific type are scheduled for replacement at the same time. While an inventory is still required for this plan, this eliminates the need to assess retroreflectivity or track the life of individual signs.


Sign Inventory Management


While creating a plan to track signs can be complex, PubWorks offers a variety of solutions and reporting to help manage your sign maintenance plan. Here are a few software features that make managing a sign inventory easier.


Sign inventory by Roadway – your signs in PubWorks can be (should be) organized by the roadway on which they reside. For each sign record, standard attributes can be tracked (things like sheeting materials, post type and size). Also, the MUTCD that officially defines the sign is part of these attributes. In the end, PubWorks gives you the tools to easily and systematically organize your signs is a disciplined manner. This discipline really pays dividends when you are talking about managing thousands of signs over a large geographic area.


Asset Search – now that you have your thousands of sign in PubWorks, all well organized by road way, how do you find these R1-1 signs on a wood 4×4 post that are south facing in the District 3? This type of search, based on your attributes, is common and can be performed very easily in PubWorks with our Asset Search tool. Once a subset of signs is identified, they can be mapped or bundled into a work order for a specific maintenance activity.


Import and Assessment of Sign Retroreflectivity Data – if you’re using a retroreflectometer to test/inspect your signs, the data from the “gun” can be imported by PubWorks and assessed as to whether is passed of failed inspection based on its MUTCD. Then, it’s a simple matter of running a report to identify the signs that failed inspection so you can take follow up maintenance action.


Maintenance history – whether it’s a repair, replacement, inspection – or any other maintenance activity you perform on a sign – PubWorks gives you a means to track those activities and tie the maintenance history directly to the individual sign so you don’t have to rely on human memory or someone’s log book to know when and what was done to any given sign in your inventory.


Want to learn more about how PubWorks can help your department with sign management? Request a Demo now!