Moffat County doubles road sign budget to meet federal standards

Moffat County Commissioner Tom Mathers said he's not happy with the federal government's edict to replace all its road signs with more reflective ones.

It's "one more way they get you," he said.

"I'm not happy, I tell you," Mathers said. "It's an unfunded mandate. It's just another expense we have to bear, and that's not right."

A new federal regulation requires all road signs be more reflective, so drivers can see them more easily at night.

Every one of the county's hundreds of road signs must be replaced with a more reflective one by 2012.

Thankfully, said Linda DeRose, Road and Bridge Department manager, the county got a jump on the issue when the old County Shop burned down in fall 2007. Its entire sign inventory was lost in the fire and replaced with new ones that meet the latest standards.

Expenses still exist, though. The replacement program will cost the county an additional $28,000 a year, DeRose said, which more than doubles the current annual sign expense of about $18,000.

Although those numbers aren't very high to a county government - the Road and Bridge Department has more than $1 million in reserve to cover the costs - Mathers said it's still a "pretty good chunk of money."

"Especially because the signs right now work just fine," he said. "They've been good for 50 years."

Mathers said he thinks the government's requirement is a waste of money but that the county will comply "because they tell us we have to do it."

At the very least, he said, federal authorities should allow counties to replace old signs when it's needed to make it more affordable.

Because all the signs will be replaced anyway, though, Mathers said he hopes people stop stealing and shooting them.

"They're too expensive now," he said.

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