WAIS Document Retrieval[Federal Register: January 6, 1997 (Volume 62, Number 3)]
[Proposed Rules]
[Page 691-694]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]

Proposed Rules
Federal Register

This section of the FEDERAL REGISTER contains notices to the public of
the proposed issuance of rules and regulations. The purpose of these
notices is to give interested persons an opportunity to participate in
the rule making prior to the adoption of the final rules.


[[Page 691]]


Federal Highway Administration

23 CFR Part 655

[FHWA Docket No. 96-47]
RIN 2125-AE11

National Standards for Traffic Control Devices; Revision of the
Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices; Markings, Signals, and
Traffic Control Systems for Railroad-Highway Grade Crossings

AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), DOT.

ACTION: Notice of proposed amendments to the Manual on Uniform Traffic
Control Devices (MUTCD); request for comments.


SUMMARY: The MUTCD is incorporated by reference in 23 CFR part 655,
subpart F, approved by the Federal Highway Administrator, and
recognized as the national standard for traffic control on all public
roads. The FHWA announced its intent to rewrite and reformat the MUTCD
on January 10, 1992, at 57 FR 1134. This document proposes new text for
the MUTCD in Part III, markings; in part IV, signals; and in part VIII,
traffic control systems for railroad-highway grade crossings. The
purpose of this effort is to include metric dimensions and values for
the design and installation of traffic control devices and to improve
the organization and discussion of the contents of the MUTCD. The
proposed changes to the MUTCD are intended to expedite traffic, promote
uniformity, improve safety, and incorporate technology advances in
traffic control device application.

DATES: Submit comments on or before August 30, 1997.

ADDRESSES: Submit written, signed comments to FHWA Docket 96-47,
Federal Highway Administration, Room 4232, HCC-10, 400 Seventh Street,
SW., Washington, DC 20590. All comments received will be available for
examination at the above address between 8:30 and 3:30 p.m., e.t.,
Monday through Friday except Federal holidays. Those desiring
notification of receipt of comments must include a self-addressed,
stamped postcard.

FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Program Office: Ms. Linda L. Brown,
HHS-10, (202) 366-2192. The proposed text for the parts of the MUTCD
discussed in this notice of proposed rulemaking is available in printed
copy or CD-ROM format. It is also available on the FHWA home page at
the following Internet address: HTTP://cti1.volpe.dot.gov/fhwa/. Office
of the Chief Counsel: Mr. Raymond Cuprill, HCC-20, (202) 366-0834,
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: The 1988 MUTCD is available for inspection
and copying as prescribed in 49 CFR Part 7, appendix D. It may be
purchased for $44.00 from the Superintendent of Documents, U.S.
Government Printing Office, P.O. Box 371954, Pittsburgh, PA 15250-7954,
Stock No. 650-001-00001-0. This notice is being issued to provide an
opportunity for public comment on the desirability of proposed
amendments to the MUTCD. Based on the comments submitted and upon its
own experience, the FHWA will issue a final rule concerning the
proposed changes included in this notice.
The National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD)
has taken the lead in this effort to rewrite and reformat the MUTCD.
The NCUTCD is a national organization of individuals from the American
Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials (AASHTO), the
Institute of Transportation Engineers (ITE), the National Association
of County Engineers (NACE), the American Public Works Association
(APWA), and other organizations that have extensive experience in the
installation and maintenance of traffic control devices.
Although the MUTCD will be revised in its entirety, it will be done
in phases due to the enormous volume of text. The NCUTCD has submitted
to the FHWA for review and consideration the proposed text for the
following MUTCD Parts: MUTCD Parts III--Markings, Part IV--Signals, and
Part VIII--Traffic Control Systems for Railroad Highway Grade
Crossings. The FHWA has had an opportunity to review the NCUTCD's
recommendations and a majority of those recommendations are included in
this notice of proposed rulemaking as the first phase of the MUTCD
rewrite and reformat effort. In virtually all cases where the
recommendation from the NCUTCD for a text change or a change in the
``shall, should, or may'' condition was not accepted, the FHWA felt
there was insufficient justification presented for the change. In
reviewing the proposed text submitted by the NCUTCD, the FHWA prepared
a comparison table which shows the differences from the 1988 Edition of
the MUTCD and the FHWA's decisions on whether or not to accept the
changes. The comparison table is part of this docket and is available
for inspection.
MUTCD Parts I, VII and IX will be included in Phase 2 of the
rewrite effort and the remaining parts will be included in Phase 3. The
public will have an opportunity to review and comment on both of these
remaining phases of the MUTCD rewrite effort. The FHWA invites your
comments on the proposed text for Phase 1 which includes parts III, IV,
and VIII of the MUTCD. A summary of the significant changes contained
in these sections is discussed in this notice of proposed rulemaking.
The proposed new style of the MUTCD would be a 3-ring binder with
8\1/2\ inch pages. Each part of the MUTCD would be printed separately
in a bound format and then included in the 3-ring binder. If someone
needed to reference information on a specific part of the MUTCD, it
would be easy to remove that individual part from the binder. The
proposed new text would be in column format and contain four categories
as follows: (1) Standards--representing ``shall'' conditions, (2)
Guidance--representing ``should'' conditions, (3) Options--representing
``may'' conditions, and (4) Support--representing descriptive and/or
general information. This new format would make it easier to
distinguish standards, guidance and optional conditions for the design,
placement, and application of traffic control devices. For review
purposes during this rewrite effort, dimensions will be shown in both
metric and English. This will make it easier to compare text shown in
the 1988 Edition with the proposed new

[[Page 692]]

edition. However, the adopted final version of the new MUTCD will be
solely in metric units.
This effort to rewrite and reformat the MUTCD will be an ongoing
activity over the next 2-3 years. Some of the other issues which will
be addressed in future notices of proposed rulemaking are: Standards
for the placement of pavement marking center lines and edge lines;
minumum retroreflectivity standards for signs and pavement markings;
signing for low-volume rural roads; traffic control for light-rail
grade crossings; and the addition of a new color ``Fluorescent Yellow
Green'' for use at pedestrian and bicycle locations. These proposed
changes to the MUTCD are intended to expedite traffic, promote
uniformity, improve safety, and incorporate technology advances in
traffic control device application.

Discussion of Proposed Amendments to Part III--Markings

The following items are the most significant of the many revisions
to Part III of the 1988 MUTCD:

Characteristics of Islands as Traffic Control Devices

In the 1988 Edition of the MUTCD, ``Islands'' were covered in Part
V. It is proposed to relocate this topic to part III, Section 3G.

Pavement Marking Colors

In Section 3A.4 the color ``blue'' would be included as a new
standard pavement marking color for international symbol of access

General Principles for Longitudinal Pavement Markings

In Section 3A.5 a definition for ``Dotted Lines'' would be

Widths and Patterns of Longitudinal Line Markings

The width and pattern for ``dotted lines'' would be added to
Section 3A.6.

Warrants for No Passing Zones at Curves

The warrants for no-passing zones at curves would be moved from
previous Section 3B-5 to Section 3B-1. These warrants for determining
minimum passing sight distances would be based on posted or statutory
speed limits as shown in Table III-1. Previously, the mimimum passing
sight distances were determined based on the greater of the off-peak
85th percentile speed or the posted speed limits. In addition, Table
III-1 includes incremental speed limits of five miles per hour
(kilometers per hour were rounded).

Center Line Markings

A new STANDARD would be added to Section 3B.1a that requires center
line markings to be placed on paved undivided streets and highways
including all rural and urban arterials and collectors with specified
widths and average daily travel (ADT), and including all two-way
streets and highways with three or more travel lanes.

Edge Line Markings

In Section 3B.3 edge line markings would be required on all
freeways and expressways and on all rural arterials with travel widths
of 6.1 m (20 ft.) or more. In addition, edge line markings are
recommended on rural collectors with travel widths of 6.1 m (20 ft.) or
more and at locations where the edge of the traveled way is not
otherwise delineated and where an engineering study indicates a need.

New Standard on Pavement Marking Extensions Through Intersections or

Section 3B.4 would provide that when markings are extended into or
continued through an intersection or interchange area, they shall be
the same color and at least the same width as the line(s) they extend.
This section also provides STANDARDS for dotted lines.

Raised Pavement Markers

New supporting information would be included in Section 3B.7. It
states that ``a raised pavement marker is a device with a height of at
least 10mm mounted on or in a road surface, and intended to be used as
positioning guides or to supplement or substitute for pavement
The following new STANDARD would be included in Section 3B.7: The
color of raised pavement markers under both daylight and nighttime
conditions shall conform to the color of the marking for which they
serve as a positioning guide, or for which they supplement, or
The following new GUIDANCE would be included in Section 3B.7:
Raised pavement markers should not be substituted for right edge lines.

Pavement Word and Symbol Markings

In situations where through lanes become mandatory turn lanes,
Section 3B.12, under GUIDANCE, would be modified to allow signs or
markings to be repeated as necessary to prevent entrapment and to help
the road user select the appropriate lane before reaching the queue of
waiting vehicles.
A new STANDARD would also be added to this section. It states that
in situations where through lanes become mandatory turn lanes, lane-use
arrows shall be used and shall be accompanied by standard signs.
A pavement marking symbol for designated parking spaces for persons
with disabilities would be included as an OPTION in Section 3B.12.
A lane reduction pavement arrow would be included in Section 3B.12.

Channelizing Devices

A new STANDARD would be added to Section 3F.2 which states that the
color of cones and tube markers used outside construction and
maintenance areas shall be the same as the pavement marking for which
they supplement or substitute.

Approach End Treatment

A new STANDARD would be included in Section 3G.2 which states that
bars or buttons, when used in advance of islands having raised curbs,
shall not be placed in such a manner as to constitute an unexpected

Discussion of Proposed Amendments to Part IV--Signals

The following items are the most significant changes of the many
revisions to Part IV.

Definitions Relating to Highway Traffic Signals

Section 4A.2 would be significantly expanded from four definitions
to fifty-five definitions of technical terms that are being used
throughout Part IV.

Basis for Installing Highway Traffic Signals

Section 4B.2 would state that ``If changes in traffic patterns have
resulted in a situation where a highway traffic control signal is no
longer needed, consideration should be given to removing it and
replacing it with appropriate alternative traffic control devices.''
The FHWA has always acknowledged this but never stated it in the MUTCD.

Alternatives to Highway Traffic Control Signals

Since vehicle delay and accident frequency are sometimes greater
under traffic signal control than under STOP sign control,
consideration should be given to providing less restrictive
alternatives to traffic signals. Section 4B-4 would list eleven less
restrictive alternative measures that should be considered before a
highway traffic control signal is installed.

[[Page 693]]

Studies and Factors for Justifying Highway Traffic Control Signal

Section 4C would list seven warrants for justifying a highway
traffic control signal installation. Warrants are a set of criteria
that can be used to define the relative need for, and appropriateness
of traffic control signals. The number of warrants would be reduced
from eleven warrants to seven warrants. The following is a brief
summary of how the warrants were reduced:
1. The interruption of continuous traffic warrant will be combined
with the new warrant number 1 entitled, ``Eight Hour Vehicle Volume
2. The school crossing warrant will be placed in section 7D.4.
3. Warrant 8 will be incorporated into warrant 1.
4. The peak hour delay warrant will be included in Warrant 3.
The FHWA had been receiving a number of complaints concerning the
number and complexity of the signal warrants. This modification should
address these concerns.

Traffic Control Signal Features

In Section 4D.1, the following two cases where STOP signs are
allowed to be used with traffic control signals would be added: (1) If
the signal indication for an approach is a flashing red at all times;
and (2) If a minor roadway or driveway is located within or adjacent to
the controlled area, but does not require separate traffic signal
control because an extremely low potential for conflict exists.

Meaning of Vehicle Signal Indications

In Section 4C.4, the phrase ``Unless otherwise determined by law''
in the first paragraph under STANDARDS would be deleted. If this phrase
were left in the paragraph, States would have the right to assign
different meanings to signal indications than are allowed by the MUTCD.

Application of Steady Signal Indication

In Section 4D.5f(3) entitled ``A Steady GREEN ARROW Indication,'' a
GREEN ARROW would not be required on the stem of ``T'' intersections or
for turns from one-way roadways. In this same section under
``Options,'' the application of steady RED, YELLOW, and GREEN ARROWS is
discussed. In the 1988 MUTCD there was an item (e) that made it
optional to use a CIRCULAR GREEN indication for protected movements.
This proposal would eliminate item (e) so that the GREEN ARROW
indication would be mandatory for all protected left or right turn

Application of Steady Signal Indications for Left Turns

In Section 4D.6b(3), a new STANDARD would be added. It states that
``A four-section signal face (CIRCULAR RED, CIRCULAR YELLOW, CIRCULAR
GREEN, and left-turn GREEN ARROW) shall be used when the CIRCULAR GREEN
and left-turn GREEN ARROW indications begin and terminate together.''
This is known as ``split phasing'' and would be discussed for the first
time in the MUTCD.

Application of Steady Signal Indications for Right-Turns

Section 4D.7 would describe in more detail the various modes for
right-turn displays.

Traffic Control Signals for One-Lane, Two-Way Facilities

Section 4G would be greatly expanded to include the application,
design, and operation of traffic control signals used on one-lane, two-
way facilities.

Design of Freeway Entrance Ramp Control Signals

In Section 4H.2, the requirement for a signal face being mounted on
both the left and right side of a ramp that has two lanes would be
eliminated. In addition, the requirement for a signal face to have a
minimum nominal diameter of 8 inches has been eliminated. In this same
section, the recommended height of the signal face (between 4\1/2\ and
6 feet) has been changed from a GUIDANCE to an OPTION.

Design of Movable Bridge Signals and Gates

In Section 4I.2, the following paragraph would be upgraded to a
``Since movable bridge operations cover a variable range of time
periods between openings, the signals shall be of the following types.
The first type shall consist of the standard three color (red, yellow,
and green) traffic signal lenses, generally to be used if movable
bridge operation is quite frequent. The second type shall consist of
two red signal lenses in vertical array separated by a STOP HERE ON RED
sign. (See Section 2B.37)''

Meaning of Lane-Use Control Signal Indications

In Section 4J.2, under STANDARD, the flashing YELLOW X indication
would be replaced by two new lane-use control signal indications:

Warning Beacon

Section 4K.2 would replace the Hazard Identification Beacon section
that was in the 1988 MUTCD. Guidance for design and application of
warning beacons is described.

Speed Limit Sign Beacon

In Section 4K.3, all speed limit sign beacons would be required to
have a visible diameter of not less than 200 millimeters (8 inches).

Discussion of Proposed Amendments to Part VIII--Roadway-Rail

The following are the most significant changes of the many
revisions to Part VIII:

Title of Part VIII

This section of the MUTCD would be retitled ``Traffic Control For
Roadway-Rail Intersections'' to more properly reflect the intent of
this part to deal with all instances where there is an intersection
between vehicles operating on fixed rail and vehicles operating on


The term ``roadway'' would be substituted for the terms ``highway''
and ``street.'' The term ``roadway'' connotes the terms ``highway'' or
``street'' unless specifically defined in a specific section. The term
``roadway-rail intersection'' would be substituted for the term

Roadway Rail Intersection Closures

Section 8A.4 would be expanded to discuss situations where the
railroad is closed and situations where the roadway is closed.

Traffic Controls During Construction and Maintenance

Section 8A.5 would be expanded to ensure that the standards
discussed in Part VI of the MUTCD are followed for construction and
maintenance operations at roadway-rail intersections. In addition, this
section would require the use of a law enforcement officer or flagger
at the intersection if the queuing of vehicles across the tracks cannot
be avoided during construction or maintenance activities. This
requirement would apply whether or not active traffic control devices
are in use at the roadway-rail intersection.

Roadway-Rail Crossing (Crossbuck) Sign

Section 8B-2 would be revised to include standards for the
installation of 2'' minimum retroreflective white material at all grade
crossings for placement on the back of each blade of the crossbuck sign
for the length of the

[[Page 694]]

blade. At passive grade crossings, a strip of high grade
retroreflective white material would also be required on the full
length of the front and back of each ``Crossbuck'' (R15-1) or ``Number
of Track'' (R15-2) sign support. Figure 8-1 has been modified to
reflect this change.

Roadway-Rail Intersection Signs and Markings

Some of the sections in 8B would be reordered to put all of the
discussions relating to signs together before pavement markings, etc. A
new Section 8B.10 ``Stop Lines'' would be added. This section discusses
the placement of stop lines. This information is presently contained as
a note on Figure 8-2. The current Section 8B.5 ``Illumination at Grade
Crossings'' would be moved to Section 8C.1.

Flashing-Light Signals and Gates

This Section 8C would be redesignated as 8D. Section 8D in the 1988
MUTCD entitled ``Systems and Devices'' would be removed and the
information in that section would be incorporated into revised sections
8A and 8D.

Train Detection Systems

In Section 8D-5, automatic flashing light signals would be required
to flash for at least 20 seconds before the arrival of any train
regardless of the train's speed. The current requirement applies to
trains that operate at speeds of 20 mph or greater.

Rulemaking Analyses 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 DOT
Regulatory Policies and Procedures

The FHWA has determined that this action is not a significant
regulatory action within the meaning of Executive Order 12866 or
significant within the meaning of Department of Transportation
regulatory policies and procedures. It is anticipated that the economic
impact of this rulemaking would be minimal. The new standards and other
changes proposed in this notice are intended to improve traffic
operations and provide additional guidance, clarification, and optional
applications for traffic control devices. The FHWA expects that these
proposed changes will create uniformity and enhance safety and mobility
at little 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 (Pub. L. 96-354,
5 U.S.C. 601-612), the FHWA has evaluated the effects of this proposed
action on small entities, including small governments. This notice of
proposed rulemaking adds some new and alternative traffic control
devices and traffic control device applications. The proposed new
standards and other changes are intended to improve traffic operations,
expand guidance and clarify application of traffic control devices. The
FHWA hereby certifies that these actions would not have a significant
economic impact on a substantial number of small entities.

Executive Order 12612 (Federalism Assessment)

This action has been analyzed in accordance with the principles and
criteria contained in Executive Order 12612, and it has been determined
that this action would not have sufficient federalism implications to
warrant the preparation of a federalism assessment. The MUTCD is
incorporated by reference in 23 CFR part 655, subpart F, which requires
that changes to the national standards issued by the FHWA shall be
adopted by the States or other Federal agencies within two years of
issuance. The proposed amendment is 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
the highway. To the extent that this amendment would override any
existing State requirements regarding traffic control devices, it does
so in the interests of national uniformity.

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

This action does not contain a collection of information
requirement for purposes of the Paperwork Reduction Act of 1995, 44
U.S.C. 3501 et seq.

National Environmental Policy Act

The agency has analyzed this action for the purpose of the National
Environmental Policy Act of 1969 (42 U.S.C. 4321 et seq.) and has
determined that this action 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 655

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

(23 U.S.C. 109(d), 114(a), 315, and 402(a); 23 CFR 1.32, 655.601,
655.602, and 655.603; 49 CFR 1.48)

Issued on: December 27, 1996.
Rodney E. Slater,
Federal Highway Administrator.
[FR Doc. 96-33405 Filed 12-31-96; 8:45 am]