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Surveyor recommends sign maintenance plan

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

McCOOK, Nebraska -- Red Willow County, Nebraska's county surveyor told commissioners Monday morning that while road sign maintenance plans are not mandatory, it would be beneficial to the county to have one in place.

Gary Dicenta told commissioners that the plan would be a good idea, especially in light of a $407,000 jury award in August to a Michigan man who claimed he was injured in a car accident in Furnas County because the county failed to adequately mark a sharp turn in a road.

Dicenta suggested that Red Willow County's road grader operators regularly check on the condition of road signs on their rounds throughout the county, whether a sign is in good condition, if it needs to be repaired or replaced, that it's up where people can see it.

While dates for compliance with federally-mandated minimum sign retroreflectivity standards vary, the standards are all designed to improve the night visibility of traffic signs.

Dicenta said that the retroreflectivity of a sign can be tested by using a reflectometer, the cost of which could be shared by city and county; by purchasing a retroreflectivity toolkit available from the Federal Highway Administration; or by simply reflecting lights of the sign at night and comparing reflectivity to standards.

Developing a regular sign inspection and maintenance plan would insure that the county will meet standards and has the proof of its efforts to adequately maintain its signs in the event of an injury claim, Dicenta said. Commission chairman Earl McNutt said, "We're always trying to cover our hind end ... "

In other action during the commissioners' meeting Monday morning, Dicenta:

* Told commissioners that Miller & Associates, the county's consulting engineers, has employees certified as bridge inspectors who can perform quality control (QC) bridge inspections and also the quality control checks of random bridge inspections, to stay in compliance with the Nebraska Department of Roads Bridge Inspection Program.

Dicenta said that the county's annual bridge inspections will be performed by one of these individuals, and another individual will perform the quality control checks. Miller & Associates inspects half of the county's bridges one year, and the other half the next year.

* Updated commissioners on changes in the flood plain areas near the dike in Indianola and in the flood insurance rate map.

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What is with the Furnas County verdict awarding over $400,000 due to the county lacking adequate road signage resulting in an accident? I thought most states have statutes that "license" vehicle operators to use public roadways at their own risk: an implied risk the vehicle owner undertakes when driving on a public road. They are not "forced" to drive on any particular public roadway. If that was the situation than anyone could seek adjudication based on state and local government's failure to "adequately" maintain a public roadway. Are not most states statutorily "covered" under these principles of "licensed" implied and voluntary risk?

Is that not the case in Nebraska? If so, then why hasn't our state taken such protective matters?

This appears to give attorney's the opportunity of full employment doesn't it?

-- Posted by FarmerJoe on Wed, Oct 19, 2011, at 4:39 PM

people also need to stop shooting at the signs!! Each one of those signs are expensive and cost us lots of money.

-- Posted by bornraisedswneb on Thu, Oct 20, 2011, at 2:30 AM

Living in Furnas County, I can tell you what to expect. I live on a dead end road, and now have 6 posted signs on a mile of road. There are two corners and wasn't aware that I could only go so fast around them. The only thing it has done for that road is make it more visible for those that don't need to be driving on it in the first place. Counties could save money by making "Dead End" signs and posting them where needed. This is just like the person sueing the household for them stumbling over something and getting injured. When they had broken into the house to begin with, and winning the case.

-- Posted by plainlystated on Thu, Oct 20, 2011, at 1:35 PM

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