NEW CUMBERLAND - Street signs are such a common feature of everyday life that most motorists take them for granted. But first-responders do not.
They rely on such signs to find homes and businesses where they respond to emergencies.
Hancock County officials want to ensure streets signs that get knocked over because of accidents, disasters or vandalism are replaced in a timely manner.
County commissioners recently authorized the county's Office of Technology and Communication to re-bid the contract for the replacement of street signs. The current contractor is Juszczak Construction of Chester.
Thomas Zielinsky, office executive director, told commissioners it's taking too long to get new street signs up.
"We've run into numerous occasions where the signs have been ordered but haven't been installed, and we get complaints from the public," he said. "It's been anywhere between 30, 45 or 60 days before the signs are installed."
Zielinsky said the goal for sign replacement should be 10 days from the time the contractor receives the material. The current contractor, he said, has other commitments and isn't always able to meet that timetable.
"This isn't their full-time job," he said.
The replacement of street signs in the unincorporated portions of Hancock County is the responsibility of the rural addressing committee, which commissioners have authorized to re-bid the contract later this month.
"Part of our responsibility is to make sure all the street signs are up and operational so our first-responders can get where they need to be," Zielinsky said. "We're just looking at ... a way to improve getting this out into the county so that the public is not calling us as much."
The new contract will be established on a "time and material" basis and will follow West Virginia Division of Highways specifications, he said. A new procedure also will be developed for ordering signs, poles and accessories.
Street sign poles have to be installed a certain way and are designed to snap off at the base when hit by a vehicle, Zielinsky said. Signs are attached to the poles with a special locking nut to help cut down on acts of vandalism, he said.
Zielinsky estimated the cost of replacing a street sign is $200 to $300.
The new contract will not include the cities of Chester, New Cumberland or Weirton.