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Federal Highway Administration > Publications > Public Roads > Vol. 63· No. 4 > MUTCD -- The Millennium Edition

January/February 2000
Vol. 63· No. 4

MUTCD -- The Millennium Edition

by Linda L. Brown

MUTCD logo

The Federal Highway Administration's Office of Transportation Operations is in the process of rewriting the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD). This manual contains the standards and guidance for the design and use of signs, pavement markings, traffic signals, and other traffic control devices.

MUTCD has not been substantially rewritten in more than 20 years. Innovative technologies, roadway developments, new applications for traffic control devices, and complicated technical text have made it necessary to reexamine the information in the current (1988) edition of MUTCD. A major effort to rewrite and reformat this manual has been underway since 1995 to incorporate technological advances in the application of traffic control devices and to make the manual more user-friendly by improving the overall organization and by using clearer language.

All changes to MUTCD must be made through the federal rulemaking process, which permits all interested persons to comment on the proposed changes. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) published Federal Register notices of the proposed amendments for the following parts of MUTCD:

  • Part 1: General Provisions.
  • Part 2: Signs.
  • Part 3: Markings.
  • Part 4: Signals.
  • Part 7: Traffic Control in School Areas.
  • Part 8: Traffic Control at Highway-Rail Grade Crossings.
  • Part 9: Traffic Control for Bicycle Facilities.
  • Part 10: Traffic Control for Light-Rail Transit (new).
Cover of the MUTCD 2000 Edition.

FHWA plans to publish notices of proposed amendments for the remaining parts of MUTCD by March 2000. These parts consist of a new Part 5: Traffic Control for Low-Volume Rural Roads and Part 6: Traffic Control for Work Zones. FHWA plans also to publish a notice of proposed update information for Parts 1, 3, 4, and 8. Public comments for all parts of MUTCD must be received by June 2000. At which time, FHWA will review and summarize the comments and will prepare a "Final Rule" position that will be published in the Federal Register in December 2000.

FHWA realizes the critical role of public awareness and education when introducing new or revised products to its customers and partners. New policies and applied technologies will have a strong impact on our citizens and industries for many years. FHWA is working to expand its traditional network to include others, such as motor vehicle departments, drivers' education classes, law enforcement personnel, travel and tourist agencies, community civic leaders, and emergency response providers.

In an effort to create more public awareness of MUTCD, FHWA is publishing the "Millennium MUTCD" in several formats: traditional hard copy, CD-ROM, and Internet. The Federal Register notices and the proposed text are available at the Federal Register home page (http://www.archives.gov/federal_register/index.html) and at the MUTCD Web site. FHWA is in the process of expanding its MUTCD Web site to include electronic briefing presentations that provide an overview of the proposed MUTCD changes and a database management program that can be used to research historical and background information on various MUTCD requests for changes, experimentation, and interpretations. Other features will be added in the future to make the MUTCD Web site a one-stop shop for information concerning traffic control devices.

FHWA will introduce this new and expanded MUTCD Web site with a new Web address -- http://mutcd.fhwa.dot.gov/ -- by the end of January 2000.

Linda Brown is a transportation specialist for FHWA's Office of Transportation Operations, which is part of the Operations Core Business Unit. Her responsibilities include developing and interpreting policies and standards for traffic control devices, collaborating with colleagues in the research and implementation of improved technology for traffic control devices, providing technical assistance to transportation organizations both nationally and internationally, and establishing marketing and outreach strategies for improving highway safety and traffic control operations. She has done considerable work on establishing the direction and contents of the new Millennium Edition of the MUTCD. Ms. Brown received her bachelor's degree in transportation and business management from the University of Maryland. She is a member of the Institute of Transportation Engineers and the Women's Transportation Seminar. She also serves as a committee member of the Transportation Research Board and as the FHWA liaison to the National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

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