by Dennis Dalman
Do Sartell’s street signs reflect brightly enough at night?
The answer, according to Sartell city staff, is some do, some don’t and some do, sort of.
Now Sartell has what’s called a retro-reflectivity policy, which was approved at the last city council meeting.
In 2011, city workers did an inventory of every sign in the city, said Sartell Planner-Developer Anita Rasmussen. All of the city’s regulatory and guide signs must keep their reflectivity for obvious safety factors, she noted. Most sign’s reflective surfaces last about 10 years, and most of the city’s signs are anywhere from five to seven years old, Rasmussen told the council.
Each year, anywhere from 200 to 300 signs would be replaced.
The policy requires city street workers to replace one-tenth of the city’s signs every year, starting with the oldest and least reflective. It is possible to meter-read each sign with a reflectivity detector, but the detector costs $12,000, and that process would be time-consuming, Rasmussen said. It costs about $35 for a stop sign, and the metering alone would cost that much.
Some members of the city council said they thought it would be unwise to toss out a sign and replace it if the sign still retains its reflectivity. Some signs facing away from the sun, for example, hold their reflectivity longer than sun-facing signs.
Rasmussen said those who replace the signs would take such factors into account. If a sign is in very good condition, even if it’s old, would obviously not be automatically replaced. Signs in bad condition would also not have to wait 10 years to be replaced. Those decisions would rest with the workers in charge of sign replacement. City street workers and police officers on patrol would do night-time inspections for signs’ reflectivity and make notes on which are in bad shape.
Sign replacements will begin in 2015, starting on Sartell’s east side.
On a related matter, the council agreed “Watch Children” and “Children at Play” signs should be taken down, for the following reasons: They can induce a false (thus potentially dangerous) sense of security. Police Chief Jim Hughes agreed such signs are not effective. Some exist in neighborhoods where there are no longer any children living, and the city hasn’t put up such signs in many years.