The familiar green and white population signs welcoming motorists to the state’s cities and counties will be phasing out when they reach the end of their service life, said Mark Croarkin, Southeast District engineer for the Missouri Department of Transportation.
One on the south side of Houston already has its population removed.
“There are a couple of different reasons. The signs last longer than the census. We cannot replace signs every time there is a census. Population signs are not critical to the system, unlike the speed limit, advisory and directional signage. Additionally, Missouri is one of few states that still features population on its city/county limit placards. We want a driver’s focus to be on information the driver needs to safety navigate Missouri’s roadways — such as the speed limit,” Croarkin said.
“Everyone has a smartphone these days and if you want to know the population of a municipality, you can Google it, and that’ll be more accurate than the sign anyway. We want to be efficient with the dollars entrusted to us,” he added, noting since the next federal census is not until 2030, the signs likely will not go away anytime soon.
Croarkin said the next revision of a federal document guiding state transportation systems, “Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices”, is expected to state the following: “Names of elected officials or promotional messages, such as notable accomplishment or claims, shall not be displayed on a jurisdictional boundary sign,” adding MoDOT has already stopped putting tribute information on its signage — e.g. “Home of the XYZ champions.”
Croarkin heads MoDOT’s 25-county Southeast District, which includes Texas County.