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Wednesday, September 26, 2012
Work progressing on replacing street signs destroyed in Joplin Tornado
(From the City of Joplin)
Work is progressing to replace more than 2,000 street signs that were destroyed by the May 22, 2011 tornado. According to David Hertzberg, Public Works Director, this project has been a challenge due to inflexible federal guidelines.
“Much of the funding to replace these items came from a federal highway fund, and unfortunately that agency does not offer the emergency replacement process,” he said. “It was a long and complicated process to complete. It did slow the progress a great deal, but we are now able to move forward in getting signs replaced.”
Following the City’s bid process for this work, CDL Electric has been awarded the contract for sign replacement. This project includes various steps with the first involving the installation of the sockets for signage. Sockets are the underground component that holds the posts, and allow for a quick replacement if a sign should get hit or damaged. In addition, during this initial phase, the signage is being produced according to the specific sheeting material requirements for each type of sign.
The contractor has begun the socket installation, and citizens will see this work being completed throughout the tornado-stricken area during the next few weeks. Due to the large number of signs to replace, work is expected to last up to six to eight weeks. Following this groundwork, Hertzberg estimates that the actual installation of signs will take another six to eight weeks. “This is a large project due to the volume of replacement signs needed. We are happy to be moving forward in the process, because initially we faced inactive periods,” he said. “Now that the City has hired a contractor, this project will make great progress. I know everyone will be pleased to see these signs resurrected and signals back in place – including our City staff.” It is not unusual for people to use landmarks for identification, and with many of these demolished by the tornado, along with the street signs, traveling through the City was sometimes difficult. “We understand the frustration people had in our community,” said Hertzberg. “We are working to complete this project as quickly as we can, and we appreciate everyone’s patience throughout this time.” In addition to large numbers of signs destroyed, the City had signal lights that were damaged or destroyed by the tornado. These signal lights serviced 17 different intersections within the disaster area. The majority of the intersections affected do have working signals, with the exception the two intersections at 26th Street and Joplin Avenue, and 25th Street and Wall Street. Currently these intersections are working well with the stop signs and the immediate need for a signal is not warranted. The signal project will replace the signals with all new signals which will include new bases, stop indicator wiring, and all signals and posts will be uniform. Currently most of the signals are on a time system instead of the indicator wire system due to the damage of the wire system. When complete, the signals will return to running on activation instead of timing. The signal project is currently under final review with state and federal agencies and is expected to be able to be bid out sometime in October. Citizens should be aware that materials for the signal project typically have a long lag time (8-12 weeks), so it may take some time before construction starts upon the bid being awarded. The signal project also includes city owned street lighting. This project has a shorter lead time, so work will be started in advance of the signal project. For more information about the street signs and signals, contact the City’s Civil Engineering division at 417-624-0820, ext. 532.