Street signs are important indicators on the road. They show us directions, and lead us to places. Others indicate speed limits while some bring to our notice the presence of museums, schools, theatres, and other strategic locations. To put it simply, they improve navigation, visibility, and more importantly safety.
From time to time, street signs are replaced when they are broken, stolen, or when the markings on them begin to fade and become hard to read. Sometimes, damage caused by accidents and weather could lead to replacements. They are an investment of municipal funds and have value — even at their worst condition
How can town managers make the most of this value? What other purposes can they serve? How can city officials recoup value from these old signs after they have served the purpose for which they were designed? This article x-rays the different ways retired signs can be utilized instead of piling them up at a city building or throwing them in the trash.
This is an excellent way of using faded street signs when they no longer meet retro-reflective standards or have reached their 10-year life. Some have a lifespan of 7 years. MUTCD Compliant street signs are made of aluminium. Although some street signs only contain 10% aluminium along with other components made of plastics. Aluminium is a metal that is amenable to recycling. When recycled, a metal can be retrieved and reused. This option usually applies to badly damaged signs which have no other value. Plastics can be recycled too.
Now, with hydro stripping technology, old aluminium signs can be cleaned completely and made ready for use with blanks for new inscriptions. This allows City officials to sell old signs to third-party recyclers, and money recovered can go into the city’s general fund.
Apart from recycling, repurposing is another creative way old street signs can be used. In Seattle Public Utilities, faded street signs were converted and used in building an entrance wall to South Transfer Station. Street signs can also serve as a piece of art for houses and offices, too. Town managers and officials should encourage residents to purchase these if and when they are available. You can find on the internet many uses for old street signs. Some have used them as metal garden stakes. Others have repainted the signs and converted them into a themed clubhouse.
With social media and the internet, getting people to buy old street signs has become a lot easier. Many people enjoy having such artifacts. When the Nevada Department of Transport god rid of the old “Welcome to Nevada” sign, many people indicated interest in owning a piece of the memorabilia. People love owning a piece of history.
You could buy an old street sign for as low as $20. Town managers should ensure that every dollar realized from the sale of these signs goes back to the city for the replacement of the old signs or other community projects.
This is more like selling but with a different dimension. At auctions, there are limits, a buy-it-all option, starting bid, and so on depending on the number of signs available, and, of course, quality. In Ohio, city officials donated old street signs to a local foundation. These signs were auctioned by the foundation and funds generated.