SPRINGFIELD- Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) Secretary Timothy W. Martin announced today that the agency will begin switching out all overhead signs on the state’s roadways to use high performance sign sheeting that will improve visibility. The new signs will also save the state money by allowing IDOT to remove lighting fixtures used on overhead signs.
“We’re always looking at new technologies to make our roads safer. The new signs will be more visible to motorists, and save money in maintenance and electricity costs,” said IDOT Secretary Martin. “In addition to more reflective sheeting, we’re also switching the fonts we use on signs to a clearer font because testing has shown this makes signs easier for people to read.”
The new signs will be put up, as old ones need to be replaced, so the change over to the more highly reflective sheeting is expected to take at least 10 years. The price tag for upgrading to the new sheeting is an estimated $74,000 per year. Once the project is complete the state could see savings of nearly $1 million a year in sign maintenance and energy costs. Currently, IDOT spends about $310,000 per year in maintaining the existing overhead lighted signs and approximately $660,000 per year on energy costs to light the signs.
In early spring of 2006, IDOT installed new sign sheeting on overhead guide signs along the Illinois Route 15 corridor in St. Clair County. The purpose was to test this high performance sheeting for safety, visibility and cost effectiveness. Due to the success of this pilot project, IDOT is using the new sign sheeting on replacement signs on the Upgrade 74 project in Peoria and Chicago’s Dan Ryan expressway reconstruction.
The sheeting material used on the new signs is more durable and designed to withstand salt spray, humidity and outdoor weather. In addition to durability and improved visibility, IDOT is also switching to an easier to read font on highway signs. The new font, called Clearview Font, was developed specifically to make highway signs easier to read for older drivers. Clearview Font has been approved for use by the Federal Highway Administration, and research by Pennsylvania and Texas Transportation Institutes indicate improved recognition and greater legibility when compared to the standard highway font.
Pictures of the old and new signs are available upon request.