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The Importance of Closed Signs

January 13, 2020

Informing people when a road or organization is closed can be accomplished with a sign. There are different ways to say it, but the clearest way is to use the word “Closed.” It’s typical for a local establishment to display a two-sided sign in the front window with one side saying “Open” and the other “Closed.” Here are facts and ideas to consider for closed signs.

Road Closure Signs

While it’s ok to customize any type of business sign, all road signs must be compliant with the Federal Highway Administration’s MUTCD guidelines. Road closure signs are often temporary until maintenance has been performed. The MUTCD specifies that the size of a “Road Closed” sign must be 48 x 30 inches, unless it’s for local traffic only, then the dimensions must be 60 x 30 inches. Another option for these white rectangle regulatory signs with black lettering is an orange diamond-shaped caution sign with black lettering.

These signs, whether temporary or permanent, cannot be placed in the way of pedestrians or bicycles. They should be mounted either on the side of the road or on top of a barricade. Additionally, the sign should have a height of at least 5 feet in rural areas so that it can be seen from a distance. In business and residential districts where obstructions may reduce visibility, height should be 7 feet from the ground to the bottom of the sign.

The MUTCD says that temporary signs mounted on portable stands should not be used more than three days, with certain exceptions such as road closed signs. When a sign is placed on a barricade, it’s optional to include a flasher. There should be a brief explanation such as “Road Construction” with a detour sign, if necessary. It’s also common to state how many feet or miles ahead the closure will occur.

In the event a sidewalk is closed, there should be closed signs that indicate where pedestrians need to go instead. The same is true when a bicycle lane gets shut down. “Exit Closed” signs, which are orange and rectangular, can be used in scenarios where work is conducted near a highway or freeway exit. Portable electronic changeable signs that display various messages including closures can be used on roads, lanes and ramps.

Common Reasons for Road Closures

  • mud, rocks or slippery substance in the roadway
  • construction or utility work ahead
  • road damage that requires repair
  • an accident
  • crime scene investigation
  • bad weather
  • rerouting

Business Closure Signs

When it comes to closed signs for business, there are plenty more options to consider such as a fancy neon or LED sign. There usually isn’t much variation on message, but customized design is wide open. It’s a good idea to post business hours somewhere near the sign so that customers don’t think the establishment is closed for good. Signs can be any color or size when hung in the window.

If a store is going out of business or shuts down seasonally, it should be clear when it reopens. “Going out of business sale” signs can attract people off the street looking for bargains if the sign is conspicuous and large enough. Ultimately, it’s best to keep “open” and “closed” signs simple.


Signs are great communication tools in the absence of workers, particularly if they indicate a road, parking lot or building is closed. Depending on the type of closure, it helps to post a series of warning signs, especially when road crews are needed. Contact Zumar at our Arizona, California or Washington location to learn more about what signage is appropriate for your needs.

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