‘Time to replace them’

Lyon County Board told some faded road signs look like ‘Christmas trees’

Photo by Karin Elton This sign at the intersection of County Road 67/255th Avenue and 250th Street gives perhaps too much information. It is one of the Enhanced 9-1-1 Signs that will be replaced this year.

MARSHALL — Aaron VanMoer wants to get rid of all the “Christmas trees” in Lyon County.

The county engineer told the Lyon County Board at its regular meeting Tuesday morning that the intersection street signs that look like trees are faded and “have met their life expectancy and it’s time to replace them.”

The signs, including one that might say “190 ST,” “130 AV,” “CR 66 190 ST,” “Co Rd 66-130th AV,” CR 66, 130 AV,” and “190th St” all on one pole, are among the 866 intersection signs in Lyon County that were installed in 2005. The signs were the result of an effort called the Lyon County Enhanced 9-1-1 Signing ordinance.

The purpose of the ordinance is to provide consistent signage for effective and rapid locations of properties located throughout the county.

VanMoer said of the 866 intersection signs, Lyon County is responsible for 434 of them and the townships are responsible for 328 intersections. As for the remaining 104 — “there is a discrepancy on who’s responsible for those,” VanMoer said.

The signs are on the state right of ways and the state doesn’t want anything to do with them,” VanMoer said.

VanMoer mentioned signs that were damaged by the wind.

“There are ones that blew down in 2011 in a big wind storm in July that did not get replaced — especially ones that have like, 12 signs — the Christmas trees,” he said. “There was a bunch of them in the state right of way and township roads and did not get replaced and the sheriff and emergency management requested for the county highway department to put those back up. The county put them back up. The past six to eight years we have done the maintenance on those.”

The county has effectively assumed responsibility on the extra 104 signs.

Another aspect to the signs, he said, is the 12 signs that look more like Christmas trees.

“They’re awkward,” VanMoer said. “I don’t like them. They were supposed to be read from two directions.”

With a design change, that “awkward” signage can be done away with.

“We found a way to get the street name and county road on the same panel but in a shorter format. We even have arrows where arrows are appropriate,” VanMoer said

One name will be larger with the other name in the upper right in a smaller font.

The county wants to keep all the different names for roads.

“Our primary goal is to not change anybody’s address,” he said. “Some people have County Road 7 as their address and some have 160th Avenue (for example).”

VanMoer said he will bid out the manufacturing of the signs.

“There are three major sign makers in the area — Minnesota, North and South Dakota,” he said. “I can contract out for installation, but I anticipate installing with our staff and our equipment.”

Board member Charlie Sanow asked if there was any discount for buying in bulk.

“There is about 20 percent savings for large quantities,” VanMoer said.

The board members discussed the best way to have consistent signs throughout the county when there are two entities involved — the county and townships. It was decided that Lyon County would buy all the signs for the county and be reimbursed by the townships at cost.

“We need all the same font, all the same reflectivity and to get them replaced at the same time,” VanMoer said.

Commissioner Rick Anderson said it makes sense to get the signs in at the same time and to have uniform placement.