ASK ANN

"I understand there are now final rules for sign retroreflectivity. Can you tell me where I could find an explanation?"

You're right. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) has, as one of its missions, the task of improving safety on the nation's roadways. More than 42,000 people have been killed on American roads during each of the past eight years. While only a quarter of all travel occurs at night, about half of the traffic fatalities occur during nighttime hours. To address this disparity, the FHWA has adopted new traffic sign retroreflectivity requirements that are included as Revision 2 of the 2003 MUTCD.

Public agencies will have until January 2012 to implement and then continue to use an assessment or management method that is designed to maintain traffic sign retroreflectivity at or above the minimum levels specified. They will have until January 2015 to replace any regulatory, warning, or post-mounted guide (except street name) signs and until January 2018 to replace any street name signs and overhead guide signs that are identified by the assessment or management method as failing to meet the minimum retroreflectivity level. For more information, visit the FHWA retroreflectivity website at www.fhwa.dot.gov/retro.

"With a potential loss of 2000+ ash trees due to emerald ash borer, we are looking to find out what other municipalities are doing in the areas of education, prevention, and handling of large amounts of ash wood debris. Can you help?" Dave Miller, Kettering, OH

This insect has really taken hold in several states in the U.S., as well as in Ontario, Canada since it was first detected in Michigan in 2002. Education programs include teaching campers and woodcutters how to determine if the wood they are selecting is infected and discouraging anyone from bringing ash wood into their neighborhoods as a precaution to preventing the spread of the infestation. Handling the debris seems best done by chipping and burning the infected trees. Larry Neitzel, Brown Deer, MI, tells me that Brown Deer and five other communities are developing a unified response plan which includes funding to begin replacement of ash trees that are in poor condition or are damaged. For more information about their plan, contact Larry at vbdpwlarry@sbcglobal.net. If anyone else has suggestions, please let me know and I'll be happy to share them.

"Some of our citizens are really pushing our elected officials to 'Go Green.' We've looked at several programs but they all seem to involve audits or studies which will take longer than our people are willing to wait and are much more expensive than we can afford. Any ideas what we could do in public works to speed up the process without spending a lot of money?"

It's always interesting to see how our residents jump from one bandwagon to another and always want something added with no thought of where the funding might come from. A few months ago we were going to repair all the failing bridges; now we need to save the environment. Don't get me wrong, both are worthy projects. The funding for either is not something normally figured into our budgets which would preclude anything happening very quickly.

However, one way that agencies responsible for providing facilities management might quickly offer "proof" that they are working to make a difference involves "green cleaning." With all the discussion about climate change and sustainability, product manufacturers are taking to the airwaves to advertise their new "green" products. Many legislative bodies are passing legislation at the state and local levels that make provisions for green building. Green cleaning may be the simplest cost-effective strategy for an organization to make an impact since cleaning supplies are already part of the facility budget and "going green" usually doesn't cost more than the traditional program it is replacing.

The concept for green cleaning is that it seeks to reduce health and environmental impacts associated with the cleaning process while meeting the facility's performance and cost requirements. A simple working definition of green cleaning can be explained as "cleaning to protect health without harming the environment." It recognizes the important role that cleaning products, along with effective cleaning processes, have in creating productivity, decreased absenteeism, improved student performance on standardized tests, and other positive performance metrics. If you'd like more information about processes available check out Today's Facility Manager at www.todaysfacilitymanager.com/tfm_08_01_servmain.php or visit with a member of the Facilities and Grounds Committee. Addresses are available on the website at www.apwa.net.

Ask Ann...

Please address all inquiries to:

Ann Daniels
Director of Technical Services
APWA, 2345 Grand Blvd., Suite 500
Kansas City, MO 64108-2625

Fax questions to: (816) 472-1610
E-mail:
adaniels@apwa.net