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Interpretation Letter 2-540(Intr.)--Use of Military Decals on Guide Signs

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Department of Transportation
United States of America

Washington, D.C. 20590

March 1, 2004

Charles B. Gillespie, M.D., F.A.C.S.
2315 Winchester Road
Albany, GA 31721

Dear Dr. Gillespie:

Thank you for your January 2 letter requesting the use of "military decal" graphics on guide signs to guide traffic more efficiently to military facilities.

The Federal Sign Code cited in your letter is the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices for Streets and Highways (MUTCD) which applies to all roads open to public travel in the United States. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) publishes the MUTCD as a standard for the design and application of traffic control devices. These standards have uniformity in their design and, therefore, have a uniform understanding by drivers across the country.

In your letter, you indicate that the Georgia Department of Transportation informed you that an application for a variance would be needed for permission to apply the military decal symbol. This application is not necessary. In Part 2, Chapter 2D Guide Signs of the 2003 MUTCD, Section 2D.38 Street Name Signs provides that the use of a "symbol" or pictograph may be used to identify the governmental jurisdiction, area of jurisdiction, or other Government approved institution. The use of a "military decal" or pictograph associated with the U.S. armed forces such as the U.S. Army, the U.S. Marine Corps, or other military institution on a guide sign would fall within this provision and is an acceptable sign design. The military Branch of Service decal or pictograph should be used instead of the decal for that facility. This would be less confusing to most motorists since they would only recognize the military Branch of Service decal such as the U.S. Army, etc. The size of a pictograph should not exceed the appropriate letter height of the route shield and text messages included in the guide sign.

While it is true that there is no example illustrated in the MUTCD of such a sign design as detailed in your letter, highway signs other than those specifically illustrated in the MUTCD may be developed and installed as long as they are consistent with the general guidelines of the MUTCD. The language in Section 2D.38 is interpreted to include the use of military decals. We have assigned this interpretation the following official ruling number: "2-540(Intr.)-Use of Military Decals on Guide Signs."

If you have questions or wish additional information, please feel free to call Mr. Fred Ranck, Safety Engineer, at (708) 283-3545 at FHWA's Resource Center in Olympia Fields, Illinois. Include the above official ruling number reference in any future correspondence.

Sincerely yours,

Norman Y. Mineta