What are the NYS requirements for a municipality to remove an existing sign?

While there are no requirements for removal of a traffic control device, we recommend an engineering study or judgement be documented just as should be done for an new installation. If you don’t have such a review and a crash occurs, the municipality could be liable.

Here is an example.

The Town of Shangri-La removes a curve warning sign after a realignment and repaving of a corner. The speed limit is 55 mph. With the new alignment, the Town hopes the advisory speed will be 55 mph. The old curve needed to be signed because the advisory speed was determined to be 45 mph.

Just because the road has been paved and realigned does not mean the curve sign is no longer needed. The corner speed needs to be checked to be sure of the current safe speed. Imagine a small dip in the pavement at the end of the corner is still there after paving. What would the Town be able to produce in court if an crash occurred?  “We took down the sign cause we thought it was safe to do so.” Not really a good defense.

Better would be: “After performing a ball bank indicator analysis for all the corners on the road, we updated the signage for all of the corners on the highway. According to our records, the new advisory speed for that particular corner was determined to be greater than 55 mph. Per the MUTCD, we removed the sign for that corner.”

Resources

Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). CLRP webpage

Cover of the Traffic Sign Handbook

Traffic Sign Handbook for Local Roads, 2011 New York State Edition, September 2011 (pdf)

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This work by the Cornell Local Roads Program (CLRP) is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 Unported License.