Question: Your recent column about directional signs in Tacoma (“Locals know how to get to I-5; visitors to Tacoma might not,” Sept. 14) made me think about street-name signs in the city.
Many of them are so completely faded that they’re very hard to read. On some corners they’re hard to find, or even nonexistent.
Maybe it’s a budget thing, but you’d think the city would at least have one sign on each corner that’s legible.
What’s the process for getting better street signs?
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— Anonymous, Tacoma
Answer: If you have concerns about any street signs in Tacoma — street name signs included — you can call this number at the Public Works Department: 253-591-5495. You can also report missing or damaged signs at the city’s TacomaFirst mobile app by dialing 311 on smartphones.
Joshua Diekmann, the city traffic engineer, says Tacoma has more than 5,000 intersections and more than 75,000 signs, including street name signs. Typically, he said, at least one street name sign is placed for each roadway. Two signs per roadway are used at busier intersections.
“Signs are replaced as they become worn, faded or damaged, in accordance with the rules in the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices, as adopted in the Washington Administrative Code,” Diekmann said.
Street name signs are important but don’t have top priority when new signs are needed, Diekmann said.
“Because the city has only two full-time employees for maintaining all the roadway markings and signs in the city,” he said, “higher-priority signs such as stop and yield signs are replaced first.”
Diekmann said the life expectancy of a sign varies depending on its exposure to sunlight, the background color of the sign and other factors. New signs are expected to last at least 12 years, he said.