New York State Local Technical Assistance Program

Is there a specific regulation that sets a timer for the replacement of downed signs?

Downed highway sign

There is no set time in the regulations that you have to replace downed signs. However, since signs are installed under the authority of the town or County and are, therefore, a liability to the town or county when they are no longer in place, it is typically recommended that an agency develop a policy to identify a time frame acceptable for the replacements. Having a policy that identifies the protocol the county will take in responding to written or other notices, will be a much better defense in court.

Legal wording refer to a “reasonable time” in replacing any sign, however, “reasonable time” is left open to opinion and needs to be supported. Important signs, such as stop and yield signs, should be replaced ASAP, while less critical signs should be replaced within a reasonable time, justifiable by the county. The actual replacement times should be supportable in court.

If there is no sign management policy currently in place, we recommend that one be prepared and approved for the agency. Each town and county vary with what is a reasonable time so it may help to see what the policy of adjacent counties and or towns are following.

The CLRP workshop manual, A Highway Department Legal Liabilities, may provide additional information on Written Notice laws and Record keeping requirements to protect the county from liability.

Prior Notice Statutes for counties can be found in the Highway Law section 130.

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