Lower Merion can keep its historical street signs

Lower Merion Township is no longer required to replace historical street signs with modern reflective signs that are easier to see, officials said Tuesday.

The decision was made by U.S. Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood in response to lobbying by U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey and township officials who argued against the change.

"I extend my sincere thanks to Secretary LaHood for his prompt cooperation and flexibility in allowing Lower Merion Township to keep its beloved historical street signs," Toomey (R., Pa.) said in a news release.

"There is no evidence that these existing signs constitute a danger, and keeping the signs will preserve local history while saving the township money," Toomey said.

The township's Board of Commissioners said that replacing the cast-iron signs, which are nearly a century old, would cost $1.5 million.

In 2009, the Federal Highway Administration set new standards for road signs with certain deadlines, including a requirement that neighborhood street signs be replaced by January 2018.

The new signs are meant to be more visible, especially at night, federal officials said.

Other suburban communities also facing the new requirements have registered their complaints with the federal government.

LaHood reopened the comment period on the regulations, and federal transportation officials are now weighing possible revisions.

Cheryl Gelber, a Democratic township commissioner in Lower Merion, said in Toomey's news release that the historical street signs "help identify Lower Merion as a municipality that cares about its historic heritage."

"In addition," she said, "the new standards were an unfunded mandate that would put financial pressure on the township to solve a problem that didn't exist."

 


Contact staff writer Robert Moran at 215-854-5983 or bmoran@phillynews.com.