May 4, 2022

Design Matters: The Importance of Transportation Signage

By Focus Engineering In Expertise No comments

While driver safety and efficiency are the most obvious benefits of traffic signs, they also play an important role in helping people get where they need to go. And whether you’re driving in Salt Lake City, Boston, or Tampa, you’ll find the same red octagon stop sign or triangular yield sign. 

From the large green guide signs you see along the freeway to the smaller yellow warning signs, such as speed limit signs, each has a very specific design that must be followed to meet both state and federal requirements. “The design standards include the sign size, color, letters, and symbols,” Transportation Department Manager Jason Watson explains. “Even the spacing between letters and to the edge of the sign are identified.”

Jason has spent his entire career designing safer routes to destinations via roads, intersections, and highways. He’s worked with local, state, and federal entities to provide a range of traffic design services including traffic signal warranty analysis and design, signing and pavement marking plans, and intersection design.

Our transportation work on state and local projects is based on the Federal Highway Administration’s Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) which specifies the legal standards by which traffic signs, road surface markings, and signals are designed, installed, and used. The signs are designed using a specific software called SignCAD. UDOT adopts a “Utah MUTCD” which adds in a few requirements that are more specific to Utah.

“It’s our responsibility to not only know department of transportation (DOT) and Federal Highway Administration requirements, but also review the designs to check details and ensure the sign manufacturer makes the sign correctly,” says Jason. 

Regular communication with our clients and FOCUS roadway designers is key to project success. “We’ve found it incredibly helpful to discuss DOT and MUTCD requirements to ensure everyone is on the same page and the proper signs are designed and installed,” he shares. 

Whether it’s making sure there’s enough room on the side of the road to place the signs or designing the appropriate protection for signs, it’s the attention to the little details and coordination between FOCUS departments that makes a difference for our clients.