[Federal Register: October 30, 2002 (Volume 67, Number 210)]
[Proposed Rules]               
[Page 66076-66078]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
[DOCID:fr30oc02-20]                         

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DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION

Federal Highway Administration

23 CFR Part 655

[FHWA Docket No. FHWA-2002-13069]
RIN 2125-AE78

 
Traffic Control Devices on Federal-Aid and Other Streets and 
Highways; Standards

AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of proposed rulemaking; request for comments.

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SUMMARY: The FHWA proposes to revise its regulation on traffic control 
devices on Federal-aid and other highways, which prescribes procedures 
for obtaining basic uniformity of traffic control devices on all 
streets and highways. Recently, the FHWA underwent agency 
reorganization and various offices and position title changes were made 
within the headquarters and field offices. Therefore, we propose to 
provide nomenclature changes and to remove a reference to an outdated 
regulation.

DATES: Comments must be received on or before December 30, 2002.

ADDRESSES: Mail or hand deliver comments to the U.S. Department of 
Transportation, Dockets Management Facility, Room PL-401, 400 Seventh 
Street, SW., Washington, DC 20590, or submit electronically at http://
dmses.dot.gov/submit. All comments should include the docket number 
that appears in the heading of this document. All comments received 
will be available for examination at the above address from 9 to 5 p.m. 
e.t., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays. Those desiring 
notification of receipt of comments must include a self-addressed, 
stamped postcard or print the acknowledgement page that appears after 
submitting comments electronically.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Ernest Huckaby, Office of 
Transportation Operations, (202) 366-9064; or Mr. Raymond W. Cuprill, 
Office of the Chief Counsel, (202) 366-0791, U.S. Department of 
Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, 400 Seventh Street SW., 
Washington, DC 20590. Office hours are from 7:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m., 
e.t., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.

SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION:

Electronic Access and Filing

    You may submit or retrieve comments online through the Document 
Management System (DMS) at: http://dmses.dot.gov/submit. Acceptable 
formats include: MS Word, MS Word for Mac, Rich Text File (RTF), 
American Standard Code Information Interchange (ASCII)(TXT), Portable 
Document Formation (PDF), and WordPerfect (versions 7 to 8). The DMS is 
available 24 hours each day, 365 days each year. Electronic submission 
and retrieval help and guidelines are available under the help section 
of the Web site.
    An electronic copy of this document may also be downloaded by using 
a computer, modem and suitable communications software from the 
Government Printing Office's Electronic Bulletin Board Service at (202) 
512-1661 by using a computer, modem, and suitable communications 
software. Internet users may also reach the Office of the Federal 
Register's home page at: http://www.archives.gov and the Government 
Printing Office's Web page at: http://www.access.gpo.gov/nara.

Background

    This document proposes to revise the regulation that prescribes 
procedures for obtaining basic uniformity of traffic control devices on 
all streets and highways in order to provide nomenclature changes, and 
to remove the outdated reference to an outdated regulation. The Manual 
on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) is approved by the Federal 
Highway Administration and recognized as the national standard for 
traffic control on all public roads. It is incorporated by reference 
into the Code of Federal

[[Page 66077]]

Regulations at 23 CFR part 655. Due to the reorganization of the FHWA 
and the deletion of 23 CFR 1204.4 by the National Highway Traffic 
Safety Administration (NHTSA), it is necessary to update 23 CFR 
655.603.
    The FHWA is issuing this notice to provide an opportunity for 
public comment on the proposed changes to 23 CFR 655.603. Based on the 
comments received and its own experience, the FHWA may issue a final 
rule concerning the proposed changes included in this notice at any 
time after the close of the comment period.

Discussion of Proposed Amendments

    The FHWA underwent restructuring in 1999 and various office and 
position title changes were made within the Headquarters and field 
offices. The FHWA regional offices were eliminated, resource centers 
were established, and additional responsibilities were given to FHWA's 
division offices (located in each State, Puerto Rico and the District 
of Columbia) and the Federal Lands Highway offices. These 
organizational changes require us to update Sec.  655.603(b)(1), and 
Sec.  655.603(b)(2), to reflect changes that resulted in the 
restructuring of the FHWA in 1999.
    The FHWA proposes to modify the first sentence in Sec.  
655.603(b)(2) to delete the phrase ``with the concurrence of the Office 
of Traffic Operations.'' The deletion of this phrase is based on the 
similar technical abilities of the Federal Lands Program offices and 
the FHWA Division offices. Additionally, the FHWA proposes to have the 
Associate Administrator of Federal Lands Highway Program Office approve 
the MUTCDs of the other Federal land management agencies (Bureau of 
Indian Affairs, National Park Service, Forest Service, and U.S. Fish 
and Wildlife Service).
    Section 655.603(d)(1) discusses the systematic upgrading of 
substandard traffic control devices and installation of devices that 
conform to the MUTCD. This section refers to a program required by the 
former Highway Safety Program Standard Number 13, Traffic Engineering 
Services (23 CFR 1204.4), a National Highway Traffic Safety 
Administration (NHTSA) regulation and must be amended to remove the 
reference to 23 CFR part 1204.
    The Highway Safety Act of 1966 (Pub. L. 89-564; 80 Stat 731; 
September 9, 1966), amended title 23, United States Code to add Chapter 
4, entitled ``Highway Safety.'' Section 402(a) of the U.S. Code, the 
Highway Safety program, required that States have a highway safety 
program designed to reduce traffic accidents and deaths, injuries, and 
property damage resulting from traffic accidents. These programs were 
to be in accordance with uniform standards promulgated by the Secretary 
of transportation. The NHTSA was the agency within the U.S. DOT 
responsible for promulgating these uniform standards. Originally 
promulgated in November 1966, these uniform standards were codified in 
23 CFR 1204. There were 18 standards in all.
    Standard number 13 of the uniform standards, entitled ``Traffic 
Control Devices'' required, among other things, that each State's 
highway safety program have, at a minimum: a method to identify needs 
and deficiencies of traffic control devices; a method to upgrade all 
existing traffic control devices on all streets and highways to conform 
with standards issued by the Federal Highway Administrator; and program 
for preventive maintenance, repair, and daytime and nighttime 
inspection of all traffic control devices.\1\
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    \1\ See 33 FR 16560. 16564; November 14, 1966. Originally 
codified in 23 CRF 204, however, it was redesignated as 23 CFR 1204 
in 1973 at 38 FR 10810; May 2, 1973.
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    Until the Surface Transportation and Uniform Relocation Assistance 
Act of 1987 (Pub. L. 100-17; April 2, 1987), it was mandated that the 
States complied with these 18 standards, as there was financial 
sanctions imposed for non-compliance. In 1987, Congress revised 23 
U.S.C. 402(a) to replace the word ``standards'' with the word 
``guidance.'' This change, combined with the changes made to the 
Highway Safety Program under the Intermodal Surface Transportation 
Efficiency Act of 1991 (Pub. L. 102-240; December 18, 1991) lead to the 
revision of the uniform standards by NHTSA. In 1995, NHTSA revised the 
standards to make them guidelines and removed them from the code of 
Federal Regulations.\2\ The guidelines, now 21 in all, are published in 
separate documents made available to the States.
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    \2\ See 60 FR 36641, July 18, 1995.
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    Guideline 21, entitled ``Roadway Safety,'' captures the 
requirements of former standard number 13 in that the same requirements 
regarding traffic control devices remain. This Guideline (No. 21) was 
published as a notice in the Federal Register on July 18, 1995 (60 FR 
36641, 36665).
    Section 655.603(d)(1) discusses the systematic upgrading of 
substandard traffic control devices and installation of devices to 
conform to the MUTCD. Currently, it still refers to 23 CFR 1204, which 
has since been removed from the Code of Federal Regulations; therefore, 
we proposed to amend Sec.  655.603(d)(1) to reflect this change.

Rulemaking Analysis and Notices

    All comments received before the close of business on the comment 
closing date indicated above will be considered and will be available 
for examination in the docket at the above address. Comments received 
after the comment closing date will be filed in the docket and will be 
considered to the extent practicable, but the FHWA may issue a final 
rule at any time after the close of the comment period. In addition to 
late comments, the FHWA will also continue to file in the docket 
relevant information that becomes available after the comment closing 
date, and interested persons should continue to examine the docket for 
new material.

Executive Order 12866 (Regulatory Planning and Review) and U.S. DOT 
Regulatory Policies and Procedures

    The FHWA has determined preliminarily that this action will not be 
a significant regulatory action within the meaning of Executive Order 
12866 or significant within the meaning of U.S. Department of 
Transportation regulatory policies and procedures. It is anticipated 
that the economic impact of this rulemaking would be minimal. The 
changes proposed in this notice are intended to clarify 23 CFR 655.603 
in light of the FHWA reorganization and to remove the reference to an 
outdated regulation. The FHWA expects that these proposed changes will 
provide clarity at little or no additional expense to public agencies 
or the motoring public. Therefore, a full regulatory evaluation is not 
required.

Regulatory Flexibility Act

    In compliance with the Regulatory Flexibility Act (5 U.S.C. 601-
612), the FHWA has evaluated the effects of these proposed changes on 
small entities. This action proposes to update the authorities of the 
FHWA, and referenced documents regarding MUTCD compliance on existing 
highways. Such updates will provide transportation entities with the 
appropriate points of contact regarding the MUTCD. The FHWA hereby 
certifies that these proposed revisions would not have a significant 
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995

    This notice of proposed rulemaking would not impose unfunded 
mandates as defined by the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act of 1995 (Pub. 
L. 104-4, 109 Stat. 48, March 22, 1995). This proposed action will not 
result in the expenditure by State, local, and tribal governments,

[[Page 66078]]

in the aggregate, or by the private sector, of $100 million or more in 
any one year to comply with these changes as these proposed changes are 
minor and non-substantive in nature, requiring no additional or new 
expenditures.

Executive Order 13132 (Federalism)

    This action has been analyzed in accordance with the principles and 
criteria contained in Executive Order 13132 dated August 4, 1999, and 
the FHWA has determined that this proposed action does not have a 
substantial direct effect or sufficient federalism implications on 
States that would limit the policymaking discretion of the States and 
local governments. The FHWA has also determined that this proposed 
rulemaking will not preempt any State law or State regulation or affect 
the States' ability to discharge traditional State governmental 
functions and does not have sufficient federalism implications to 
warrant the preparation of a Federalism assessment. The proposed 
amendments are in keeping with the Secretary of Transportation's 
authority under 23 U.S.C. 109(d), 315, and 402(a) to promulgate uniform 
guidelines to promote the safe and efficient use of highways.

Executive Order 13175 (Tribal Consultation)

    The FHWA has analyzed this proposed action under Executive Order 
13175, dated November 6, 2000, and believes that it would not have 
substantial direct effects on one or more Indian tribes; would not 
impose substantial direct compliance costs on Indian tribal 
governments; and would not preempt tribal law. Therefore, a tribal 
summary impact statement is not required.

Executive Order 13211 (Energy Effects)

    The FHWA has analyzed this proposed action under Executive Order 
13211, Actions Concerning Regulations That Significantly Affect Energy 
Supply, Distribution, or Use. It has been determined that it is not a 
significant energy action under that order because it is not a 
significant regulatory action under Executive Order 12866 and is not 
likely to have a significant adverse effect on the supply, 
distribution, or use of energy. Therefore, a Statement of Energy 
Effects under Executive Order 13211 is not required.

Executive Order 12372 (Intergovernmental Review)

    Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance program Number 20.205, 
Highway Planning and Construction. The regulations implementing 
Executive Order 12372 regarding intergovernmental consultation on 
Federal programs and activities apply to this program.

Paperwork Reduction Act

    Under the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995 (PRA) (44 U.S.C. 3501, et 
seq.), Federal agencies must obtain approval from the Office of 
Management and Budget (OMB) for each collection of information they 
conduct, sponsor, or require through regulations. The FHWA has 
determined that this proposed action does not contain collection 
information requirements for purposes of the PRA.

Executive Order 12988 (Civil Justice Reform)

    This proposed action meets applicable standards in sections 3(a) 
and 3(b)(2) of Executive Order 12988, Civil Justice Reform, to minimize 
litigation, eliminate ambiguity, and reduce burden.

Executive Order 13045 (Protection of Children)

    The FHWA has analyzed this proposed action under Executive Order 
13045, Protection of Children from Environmental Health Risks and 
Safety Risks. This is not an economically significant action and does 
not concern an environmental risk to health or safety that may 
disproportionately affect children.

Executive Order 12630 (Taking of Private Property)

    This proposed action would not affect a taking of private property 
or otherwise have taking implications under Executive Order 12630, 
Governmental Actions and Interference with Constitutionally Protected 
Property Rights.

National Environmental Policy Act

    The agency has analyzed this proposed action for the purpose of the 
national Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and 
has determined that it would not have any effect on the quality of the 
environment.

Regulation Identification Number

    A regulation identification number (RIN) is assigned to each 
regulatory action listed in the Unified Agenda of Federal Regulations. 
The Regulatory Information Service Center publishes the Unified Agenda 
in April and October of each year. The RIN contained in the heading of 
this document can be used to cross reference this action with the 
Unified Agenda.

List of Subjects in 23 CFR Part 655

    Design standards, Grant programs--transportation, Highways and 
roads, Incorporation by reference, Signs, Traffic regulations.

    Issued on: October 24, 2002.
Mary E. Peters,
Federal Highway Administrator.
    In consideration of the foregoing, the FHWA proposes to amend title 
23, Code of Federal Regulations, part 655, subpart F as follows:

PART 655--TRAFFIC OPERATIONS

    1. The authority citation for part 655 continues to read as 
follows:

    Authority: 23 U.S.C. 101(a), 104, 109, 114(a), 217, 315, and 
402; 23 CFR 1.32; and 49 CFR 1.48.

Subpart F--[Amended]

    2. Revise Sec.  655.603, paragraphs (b)(1), (b)(2) and (d)(1) to 
read as follows:


Sec.  655.603  Standards.

* * * * *
    (b) State of Federal MUTCD. (1) Where State or other Federal agency 
MUTCDs or supplements are required, they shall be in substantial 
conformance with the national MUTCD. Changes to the national MUTCD 
issued by the FHWA shall be adopted by the States or other Federal 
agencies within 2 years of issuance. The FHWA Division Administrators 
shall approve the State MUTCDs and supplements that are in substantial 
conformance with the national MUTCD.
    (2) The FHWA Associate Administrator of the Federal Lands Highway 
Program shall approve other Federal land management agencies' MUTCDs 
that are in substantial conformance with the national MUTCD. States and 
other Federal agencies are encouraged to adopt the national MUTCD as 
their official Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.
* * * * *
    (d) Compliance--(1) Existing highways. Each State, in cooperation 
with its political subdivisions, and Federal agency shall have a 
program as required by 23 U.S.C 402(a), which shall include provisions 
for the systematic upgrading of substandard traffic control devices and 
for the installation of needed devices to achieve conformity with the 
MUTCD.

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[FR Doc. 02-27608 Filed 10-29-02; 8:45 am]
BILLING CODE 4910-22-P