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Bridge Road Sign Facts

October 8, 2019

Every city or town has bridges that cross roads and streams for motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists. It’s important that a bridge road sign is placed properly so that people know they are entering a bridge, especially at night. Here are essential details to keep in mind when placing a bridge road sign.

Variations of Bridge Signs:

  • Narrow Bridge Ahead
  • One Lane Bridge
  • Draw Bridge Ahead
  • Watch for Ice on Bridges
  • Bridge Closed

Bridges without signs can be dangerous, especially while maintenance work is conducted. It’s not enough to tell people there’s a bridge ahead if there’s no access to it. Sometimes a bridge road sign must be changed to reflect its current status. In cases of narrow bridges, it helps to let drivers know if it’s a one-lane or two-lane road and if it allows for traffic to move in both directions.

Documenting Local History

One of the often overlooked benefits of bridge signs is that they document local history, such as the year a bridge was built. Brooklyn Bridge Park uses a series of signs to tell the history of the area’s waterfront. The signs provide further information on ecological and sustainable aspects of the park, which consists of piers that serve as entry points.

Long Bridges Need Multiple Signs

Some bridges, such as the Golden Gate Bridge or Bay Bridge in San Francisco, run for miles and are part of highway systems. These bridges need several signs to keep motorists focused on safe driving and where they are headed. The Golden Gate Bridge is part of a national park system consisting of 19 sites across three counties. As a courtesy to tourists, it gives plenty of signage that promotes tourist attractions in the region, such as the Presidio, Muir Woods, bike trails and beaches.

The National Park Service wanted to spread greater awareness of where people were located in the park, so it came up with a color-coding scheme based on standards set by UniGuide for national parks. While the road signs closely follow UniGuide standards, signs for pedestrians and cyclists have been designed to be more distinctive. Trail names are listed in green, while destination information appears in black.

Since 2006, over 1,000 signs have been installed throughout the Golden Gate Park system. Feedback shows that the signs are useful, clear and functional, as organizers point to sign design as a key to effectiveness.

Enforcing Limitations

Another way that a bridge road sign can help communities is by posting vehicle weight limits to divert big trucks toward alternative routes. In most cases, vehicles weighing over 40 tons are not permitted on interstate highways. These heavy machines can take their toll on bridges that were not meant to support such weight. It’s up to state and local governments to routinely inspect bridges for defects and to close them when they require maintenance. They must also post updated information on weight limitations.

Truck load capacities on roads and bridges are determined by analysis of ratings based on inventory and operational levels. Inventory levels reflect loads that trucks can carry safely on a regular basis while operating levels identify the maximum loads possible. A country bridge may have an intentory level of 38 tons, while the operating rating is 64 tons.

Studies are taken every few years by officials to gauge safety ratings in relation to structural capacity of bridges. When load capacity changes due to bridge deterioration, it must be reflected in road signage. If either the operating or inventory rating of the bridge falls below 3 tons for any vehicle, the owner must post a “bridge closed” sign.

If you need a bridge road sign for your city, Zumar can help you. We know that safe and clear bridge road signs can make a difference and keep your community safe. Contact us today.

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