The in basket: Don Brandvold asks “Who cleans the signs that are on our highways? On Highway 16 heading to Tacoma, after you pass the women’s prison on the right but before you reach the cemetery on the left, there is a sign for Good To Go! that was put up about a year before the new bridge was ready for us to use.
“While all the other signs on 16 look clean, that one is green and looks like it has never been cleaned. Hope someone cleans it.”
The out basket: I asked both the state and Kitsap County about this, and Jeff Shea, the county’s traffic engineer got back to me first.
“We have nearly 20,000 signs on county-maintained roads,” Jeff said. “In 2015 our five sign specialists cleaned over 5,000 signs. Each specialist is responsible for approximately 4,000 signs. Each sign is a reflection on how they do their job, so keeping signs legible is a high priority. The specialists inspect all the signs they are responsible for every year. If the sign can’t be cleaned, it is replaced.
“Signs are placed to help ensure the motoring public’s safety. When signs aren’t legible, they can’t serve that purpose. There is even some thinking that shows signs that are dirty and difficult to read create an impression they are not important, and motorists may disregard a sign because of its condition.
“Kitsap County’s weather adds challenges to sign maintenance. Overhead canopies, rain, and a lack of sunshine in certain areas promote the green growth seen on some signs. We also deal with a considerable amount of vandalism that obscures legends on signs, or makes the sign less legible.
“Our charge is to keep all county signs in excellent condition. We invite the public to let us know if they see signs that need attention, whether they are on the ground, leaning, or dirty, by calling Kitsap1 at 360.337.5777.
Claudia Bingham Baker of state highways’ Olympic Region, said, “I would echo what Jeff said about the importance of roadway signs and the challenges crews face keeping them clean and legible. In addition to what Jeff said, we do reviews of sign reflectivity during night hours. Any signs we see that no longer have adequate reflectivity are replaced or washed.
“Our crews wash signs as their work schedules allow. We will tend to the sign mentioned by your reader. Please thank him for bringing the issue to our attention.”