|FHWA Policy Memorandums|
In Reply Refer to:
Ronald H. Merila, P.E.
Deputy Director. Traffic and Planning
100 West Broadway. Suite 31
Montesanto, WA 98563
Dear Mr. Merila:
Thank you for your March 5 resubmittal of your request for Interim Approval to use the Clearview alternative letter style on highway signs. At this time. the FHWA is not considering requests for expansion of the use of an alternative to the FHWA Standard Alphabets.
Based on more recent evaluations and in-service performance. it appears that the critical factor in nighttime visibility and legibility is the combination of retroreflective sheeting used for the sign background and legend. Further, the narrower series of the alternative alphabets were not developed for and are not recommended for or conducive to conventional roadway signing, particularly Street Name signs. Based on these and other reasons, we expect to rescind the Interim Approval in the near future.
This action docs not restrict use of an alternative letter style on Community Wayfinding signs as provided in Paragraph 31 of Section 2D.50 of the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (MUTCD).
We regret that we cannot approve your request. For recordkeeping purposes, we have assigned your request the following number and title: "IA-5.31 - Clearview—Grays Harbor County. WA (DENIED)." Please contact Mr. Kevin Sylvester of my staff at Kevin.Sylvester@dot.gov if you should have further questions on this matter.
Mark R. Kehrli
Director, Office of Transportation
Roger A. Wentz, CAE
President & CEO
July 26, 2015
Mr. Gregory G. Nadeau, Administrator
U.S. Department of Transportation
Federal Highway Administration
1200 New Jersey Avenue, SE
Washington, D.C. 20590
Dear Administrator Nadeau:
I write on behalf of the Sign Committee of the American Traffic Safety Services Association to request clarification on the continued use of Clearview Font for positive contrast signs and research into its use on negative contrast signs.
Clearview Font has been in Interim Approval since 2004. The Interim Approval only allows the use of Clearview Font as an alternative to the Standard Alphabet on positive-contrast (white legend on a green, blue, or brown background) guide signs, as this contrast orientation is the only one that has demonstrated an improvement in legibility distance to date for those legends composed of upper and lower case letters when using specific series of Clearview Font lettering. According to a report by the Texas Transportation Institute, the use of Clearview Font in negative-contrast color orientations, such as on regulatory and warning signs, has been shown to decrease legibility distance when compared with the FHWA Standard Alphabet series font.
While the FHWA FAA (https://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/resources/clearviewdesignfaqs/index.htm#q1) section is a good source of information and reference point for agencies, our members who fabricate signs indicate that significant confusion still remains in the marketplace.
A denial of request by Grays Harbor for use of the Clearview Font leads us to believe that there is a change in the Interim Approval status. The FHWA memo to Grays Harbor states in part:
Based on the more recent evaluations and in-service performance, it appears that the critical factor in nighttime visibility and legibility is the combination of retroreflective sheeting used fro the sign background and legend. Further, the narrower series of the alternative alphabets were not developed for and are not recommended for or conducive to conventional roadway signing, particularly Street Name signs. Based on these and other reasons, we expect to rescind the Interim Approval in the near future.
With what appears to be further delay in the planned Notice of Proposed Amendment to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, the ATSSA Sign Committee believes that it is unwise to wait until the NPA is issued to make a "permanent" decision on the used of Clearview Font as that would only exacerbate the current confusion in the marketplace. We urge FHWA to make the prompt decision on the permanent status of the Clearview Font.
Very truly yours,
Roger A. Wentz
In Reply Refer 10:
Mr. Roger A. Wentz
President and CEO
American Traffic Safety Services
15 Riverside Parkway, Suite 100
Fredericksburg, VA 22406
Dear Mr. Wentz:
Thank you for your letter regarding lettering for highway signs. Specifically, you requested clarification on the status of the ClearviewTM lettering style and expressed concern over confusion that has resulted in the marketplace.
The Clearview lettering style is currently subject to provisional use in accordance with the terms of the Federal Highway Administration's (FHWA) Interim Approval under the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways. The additional guidance available at the FHWA's MUTCD Web page is intended to provide clarification based on research evaluations that have occurred since the lnterim Approval was issued in 2004.
I understand your concern over the confusion that has resulted from the limited applicability of the Interim Approval. We are aware of these and other concerns related t0 the alternative lettering style. We have reviewed the history of past research evaluations that examined the legibility of narrower letter forms and other contrast orientations of the provisional letter style. Based on this information and other considerations. we intend to issue formal guidance on this topic in the coming weeks.
We appreciate your interest in traffic control devices and dedication to uniformity in sign design.
Gregory G. Nadeau
United States Department of Transportation - Federal Highway Administration