Poached traffic signs create safety, cost issues


By Lee Robinson, Traffic Systems Superintendent

For some reason, quite a few folks in College Station seem to take pride in having a stop, warning or street sign hanging on their wall like a hunting trophy.

Stealing traffic signs may seem like a harmless prank, but these signs aren’t intended to be apartment decorations. They are designed to protect public safety by regulating, guiding and warning motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

Some signs may bear a family or girlfriend’s name, remind someone of a favorite place, or have a double meaning. In College Station, it’s not hard to figure out why someone would want signs from Kyle Avenue, 12th Man Circle, and even Papa Bear Drive.

We’re constantly looking for new technologies to tamper-proof and track the signs, but they still keep disappearing. Last year, 151 of our traffic signs were reported missing.

While stop signs were once the favored target, street signs are more popular these days. In 2014, Kyle and Hardwood Lane were each stolen five times while Papa Bear and Laura Lane were taken four times apiece.

Obviously, missing signs can create hazardous situations. They cost the city – and its taxpayers – a substantial amount of money to replace, too.

Stealing signs is a crime

It cost more than $26,000 to replace our stolen traffic signs last year – an average of about $175 to fabricate, assemble, deliver and install each sign. That makes stealing a traffic sign a crime, just like any other type of theft. In fact, anyone in possession of a City of College Station traffic sign will be issued a citation for stolen property and could be prosecuted.

The City of College Station’s Traffic Division is responsible for more than 12,000 traffic control devices. We installed 1,069 signs of all types last year alone. Our job can be challenging, but it can also be rewarding because we know we may have prevented an accident or even saved a life by replacing a damaged or stolen stop or warning sign in a timely manner.

That gives us an overwhelming sense of pride and satisfaction.

Traffic signs are vital tools in our transportation system and should never be tampered with. Missing and damaged signs can be reported by calling 979-764-3690, or 855-528-4278 after hours.

About Lee: Lee Robinson has worked for the City of College Station’s Public Works Department for more than 30 years. A native of Jacksonville, Texas, Lee has served as traffic systems superintendent since 1997.

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