Fox Point officials weighing options for replacing street signs

May 15, 2012

Fox Point - Will the village's historic, cast-iron street signs remain or succumb to new federal regulations pertaining to retroreflectivity?

More recently, village officials have been pondering the issue as a 2018 deadline looms. The Federal Highway Administration has required all state and local agencies replace a variety of signs with retroreflective materials that can be easily seen at night.

The mandate applies to general traffic signs - including ones telling motorists to stop, slow down and yield - as well as municipal street signs. By virtue of their design, the village's cast-iron street signs are not visible at night.

Director of Public Works Scott Brandmeier came before the Village Board last week with a suggestion designed to reach a happy medium.

Brandmeier said he met with officials at Brown Deer-based sign manufacturer TAPCO and proposed a sign design with a white background and reflective black lettering. The fox heads - an ornamental feature that sets Fox Point's signs apart from others - would be incorporated into the design by being attached with brackets.

"I'm a little concerned about the fox heads just hanging there on the signs," Trustee Christine Symchych said. "I fear that they could become an evening sport."

West has been an advocate for the cast-iron street signs and, for the time being, has suggested the board take no action on the issue.

"I suggest we just let matters stand as they are," West said, noting that the FHA's requirements have been evolving since they were first introduced. "These are beautiful, historic signs, and what we're talking about is trying to predict the future."

In the interim, Brandmeier has been given authority by the board to use his discretion and replace any broken street signs. The existing signs, he said, cost about $120 to replicate.

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