FAIRMONT, W.Va. – Marion County emergency officials are nearing the end of a two-year street sign improvement project.
The Marion County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management team is switching out every sign on roads that are not maintained by the city or state.
The new signs have several upgrades from the old ones. Instead of the typical green color, the new ones are blue and reflective at night. Officials said the new color will help first responders find roads easier because the signs won’t blend in with summer foliage. The new signs are also made of more durable material and have a larger font.
“It’s very important to us to have every road that we’re responsible for with a sign on it because in an emergency, every second counts, and we can’t have responders out not finding these roads because some of them are very small with just a couple of houses on them, and some of them are long,” said Chris McIntire, Director of the Marion County Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Management.
The department tries to upgrade the signs every five years because the vinyl starts to fade and becomes less reflective. This year, they have had setbacks because product prices have gone up.
“We were paying five or six dollars for a sign before. A pole was about 19 bucks,” McIntire said. “A pole now is 100 dollars apiece and the sign blanks have at least doubled in price.”
He added that they already had some blank signs before the price hike and can often reuse poles already at the sites.
Once they have the blank signs, the names are put on one by one by the department workers. The names are printed and cut out onto a vinyl sheet with an adhesive backing. The letters are then transferred to the blank sign by hand.
The 12-person team will be replacing nearly 1,000 signs and plans to finish the entire project in the spring of 2022. The project will cost approximately $12,000 in total.