Traffic Operations FAQ

How do I get a “Hidden Drive” sign?

How do I get a “No Engine Brakes” sign?

How do I get a “Children at Play” sign?

How do I get a crosswalk?

How do I get a blind or deaf person warning sign?

How do I get an in-street pedestrian warning sign for my crosswalk?

How do I get a radar speed feedback sign?

How do I get a school bus stop warning sign?

How do I report a damaged or obsolete sign?

How do I get a mirror to improve corner sight distance?

How do I know where the state highway right of way is?

How do I report a traffic signal that isn’t working correctly?

What does a Flashing Yellow Arrow signal mean?

How long does it take signals to change?

How do I report an issue in a work zone?

How are speed limits set?

How do I get a “Hidden Drive” sign?

Hidden Driveway signs are used when there is limited sight distance to a driveway that is not correctable by the property owner (by cutting tree limbs or other vegetation, or removing other obstructions).  If the available sight distance is less than the stopping sight distance for the posted speed limit, a hidden drive sign may be warranted.  The stopping sight distance for 50 mph is 425 feet.  Contact the Traffic Operations Unit if you think a hidden drive sign is needed for your driveway.

How do I get a “No Engine Brakes” sign?

While some towns do install such signs on roads under their jurisdiction, on the advice of our Assistant Attorney General, we do not install engine brake prohibition signs on state highways, and discourage towns from doing so on their highways.  Engine brakes are a legal and necessary safety device.  
 
Diesel engine powered trucks are not able to simply release the accelerator to slow down on hills in the same way that gas powered cars can, because the diesel engine turns freely similar to a car with its clutch engaged; the engine brake is what allows the truck to use engine compression to slow the vehicle.  The Vermont Commercial Driver’s License Manual, in section 2.6.6 (Speed on Down Grades) states, “you must use the braking effect of the engine as the principle way of controlling your speed on downgrades.”  It goes on to explain that use of the friction brakes alone on long hills can cause the brakes to overheat and fatigue, causing reduction in braking power.

How do I get a “Children at Play” sign?

The Agency of Transportation does not allow the use of “Children at Play” signs on state highways, and discourages towns from doing so on roads under local jurisdiction.  Such signs may imply that the involved jurisdiction approves streets as playgrounds. Traffic control signs are standardized nationally through the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), which has been adopted by Vermont Statute for use on all public roads in Vermont.  If there is significant pedestrian activity along your road, we could consider installation of pedestrian warning signs, or if there is a public playground adjacent to the road, there is an MUTCD standard playground warning sign that could be considered. 

How do I get a crosswalk?

There are several criteria we look at to determine whether a crosswalk is warranted, including traffic volume, pedestrian volume, speed limit, sight distance, and presence of existing pedestrian facilities. 

For more details, see our Pedestrian Crossing Treatment Guidelines

A town’s governing body (typically the select board) may request that VTrans conduct a crosswalk study for a proposed location on a state highway if they think that the criteria will be met.

Even if a crosswalk is not warranted, we may install pedestrian warning signs to alert drivers of pedestrian activity along or crossing the road.

How do I get a blind or deaf person warning sign?

A blind or deaf person (or their guardian) may ask for a plaque to be added to a pedestrian warning sign to warn drivers of crossing activity by a person who is blind or deaf.  A site visit will be conducted to determine the most appropriate location for the signs based on the needs of the person.  When the sign is no longer needed, the Traffic Operations Unit should be contacted for removal.

How do I get an in-street pedestrian warning sign for my crosswalk?

After getting a permit from the Traffic Operations unit, towns may install MUTCD compliant in-street pedestrian warning signs at non-intersection crosswalks across state highways.  Cones and barrels may not be placed in the road near crosswalks because if struck they can pose a hazard to pedestrians.  In-street pedestrian warning signs must be removed at night and during snow removal operations.

How do I get a radar speed feedback sign?

After getting a permit from the VTrans Permitting Services Unit, a town may install a Radar Speed Feedback Sign (“your speed is”) to complement its speed enforcement efforts on state highways in the town.

For more details, see our Guidelines on the Use of Radar Speed Feedback Signs.

How do I get a school bus stop warning sign?

School bus stop warning signs may be installed where there is limited sight distance to a school bus stop or to the back of an expected queue behind a stopped school bus.  VTrans does not assess or approve school bus stops, which are selected by the school district bus coordinators and school bus drivers.  The Traffic Operations Unit should be notified when a bus stop is no longer used, so that the sign can be removed.

How do I report a damaged or obsolete sign?

Damaged or obsolete signs on state highways should be reported to the Traffic Operations Engineer, Ian Degutis, P.E., P.T.O.E. -  ian.degutis@vermont.gov

How do I get a mirror to improve corner sight distance?

We do not allow mirrors to be installed within the state highway right of way.  A mirror may be installed outside of the highway right of way with the property owner’s consent, as long as the mirror does not cause glare for oncoming traffic.

How do I know where the state highway right of way is?

Most state highways are built on a 3 rod right of way (a rod is 16.5 feet, so 3 rods is 49.5 feet).  This means that for a two-lane highway, the outer edge of the highway right of way is about 25 feet from the centerline, or about 14 feet from the edgeline.  Utility poles are often located near the outside of the highway right of way.

Some state highways have much wider rights of way.  The best was to be sure is to contact the local VTrans District office and ask about your specific location.

How do I report a traffic signal that isn’t working correctly?

If the situation is causing an immediate danger (such as a power outage with blank signals), call 911 so that law enforcement officers can be dispatched to direct traffic.

If the situation is not an emergency, report the issue directly to the Traffic Signal Engineer, Derek Lyman, P.E.:  derek.lyman@vermont.gov

What does a Flashing Yellow Arrow signal mean?

A green arrow means that the turn is protected from opposing traffic; you can turn without yielding.  When your left turn arrow changes from green to flashing yellow, opposing traffic has been given a green light and you may only turn when there is a sufficient gap in opposing traffic.  When the arrow goes from flashing yellow to steady yellow, it is about to turn red and you should prepare to stop.

How long does it take signals to change?

Signal timing cycle lengths usually fall between 45 and 120 seconds. The timing for each signal is determined based on traffic volume and traffic patterns in each particular area.

How do I report an issue in a work zone?

Report the issue by contacting the Project Resident Engineer. To find this information use VTransparency to acquire the project’s fact sheet and contact information.

How are speed limits set?

Speed limits on state highways are set by the Vermont Traffic Committee, made up of the Secretary of Transportation, the Commissioner of Motor Vehicles, and the Commissioner of Public Safety, on the basis of an engineering study performed by the Agency of Transportation.  A town’s governing body (typically the select board) may request a change in speed limit on a state highway by writing a letter to the VTrans Traffic Operations Engineer, who is the staff coordinator for the Traffic Committee.  The letter should include a description of the particular concerns, especially if they are seasonal or at a particular time of day.   The Committee meets about three times per year, and the town and other interested parties may present testimony at the meetings.

Speed limits on town highways are set by the governing body of the town.  Typically a request would be made to the select board or town manager, who would then arrange to have an engineering study done either by town employees, the regional planning commission, or a consultant engineer.  The select board would then establish the speed limit based on the results of the engineering study.

Speed limits must, by law and in accordance to the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), be set on the basis of an engineering study. The study will take into account the current speeds, particularly the 85th percentile speed, which is the speed below which 85 percent of the drivers are traveling. In a sense, drivers “vote” with their right foot. The speed limit should be set at the 85th percentile speed, rounded to the nearest 5 mph, unless there are other factors that necessitate a different speed limit (hazards that drivers are not perceiving correctly, for which other mitigation measures have already been implemented or are not feasible). Such factors include roadway geometry such as curves or limited sight distance, parking or pedestrian activity, or a high occurrence of crashes related to excess speed. Other mitigation measures could include improving sight distance, adding warning signs, increasing enforcement activities, installation of radar speed feedback signs, restricting parking, or improving pedestrian facilities. An engineering study can result in a recommendation to raise the speed limit, based on the prevailing speeds and an absence of crash history due to excessive speed.

As a gut check, we often recommend a test drive with a friend.  Ask the friend to drive at a comfortable speed in both directions, without looking at the speedometer (you can check it from the passenger seat).  Then ask the friend to drive at the proposed speed limit, and see if they can maintain it without looking at the speedometer, and see whether the speed feels slow.  The reason for this gut check is that drivers typically drive by feel, and not by what the signs say, so changing the speed limit may or may not affect driver behavior to the desired degree.