February 2018

What’s Going on with the MUTCD?

By Jeff Blue, PE
      Champaign County, Illinois

 

As we all know, there has not been a new MUTCD manual since 2009. I am here to tell you that you should not look for a new manual anytime in the near future. As the NACE Delegation Chair for the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Device (NCUTCD), I attend two meetings a year of the NCUTCD. We meet every January in Washington, D.C., and again in June at a location that follows the AASHTO Subcommittee on Traffic Engineering.

The NCUTCD or the "National Committee" is an organization whose purpose is to assist in the development of standards, guides and warrants for traffic control devices and practices used to regulate, warn and guide traffic on streets and highways.

The NCUTCD recommends to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and other appropriate agencies proposed revisions and interpretations to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and other accepted national standards. The NCUTCD develops public and professional awareness of the principles of safe traffic control devices and practices and provides a forum for qualified individuals with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints to exchange professional information.

The NCUTCD consists of over 300 members representing government and non-government agencies. There are eight technical committees, which make recommendations to the Council about proposed additions, revisions, and interpretations to the MUTCD. Those recommendations are sent out to sponsors and, if ultimately approved by the NCUTCD, are forwarded to the FHWA, who is responsible for maintaining the MUTCD.

The FHWA then has the authority to issue a revision or an interim approval based on the NCUTCD recommendations or experimental data they have received. Since the 2009 version of the MUTCD was published, the NCUTCD has sent 159 recommendations to the FHWA, there are 147 active experiments and there have been 84 published interpretations to the MUTCD.

However, based on the FHWA presentation to the NCUTCD in January their does not seem to be a timeline for the publication of a new MUTCD. The path that the FHWA is currently on would lead to revisions to the 2009 MUTCD without the publication of a new manual. The latest action by the FHWA is the termination of the interim approval for the Rectangular Rapid Flashing Beacon due to patent issues.

Also, be on the lookout for the ruling on minimum retroreflectivity levels for pavement markings in the next few months. The long and the short of it is that the future of the MUTCD and the manner by which the MUTCD is published or revised is in flux at this time.

The NCUTCD will continue to evaluate the current manual, make recommendations and assist the FHWA with the upkeep of the MUTCD until a decision is made on the future of the MUTCD. To keep up to date on the goings on with the MUTCD you can sign up for email updates at GovDelivery.com.

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