By Susan Redden
JOPLIN, Mo. —
Joplin officials are as impatient as everyone else to see the replacement of street signs and signal lights lost in the May 22 tornado, David Hertzberg, public works director, said Thursday.
He said the city is close to getting approval for federal funding for the work, and officials expect to advertise next month for a contractor to replace the dozens of signal lights and more than 2,000 street signs that once stood in the disaster area.
The city has been able to get funding more quickly from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for other needs, but funding for the signs and signals will come from the Federal Highway Administration.
Hertzberg said the highway agency has steps for emergency funding when it comes to damage from flooding, but not from tornadoes.
“Most of the signals are in the FHWA system, so we’ve had to go through all the steps and now we’re waiting for final approval,” he said. “We’ll have to advertise for bids and wait 21 days, then take it (recommended bid) to the council.”
He said the street signs lost were valued at $150,000, the traffic signals at close to $1 million.
The signal lights controlled 17 intersections in what became the disaster zone.
Immediately after the tornado, city crews identified roads for emergency crews and volunteers with a painted grid system at each intersection. In addition, free-standing stop signs were placed at intersections that had damaged signals.
Hertzberg noted that the street signs were especially missed because motorists relied on landmarks that also were lost in the tornado.
“We appreciate everyone’s patience throughout this time, and I know everyone will be pleased to see these signs resurrected and signals back in place — including our city staff,” he said.
City crews have erected hundreds of temporary signs since the storm, said David Hertzberg, public works director. Those signs, along with the placed stop signs, will remain until the final replacement signs are installed.