Colorado Department of Transportation First in United States to Adopt Digital Printed Traffic Signs

January 20, 2016 - Statewide Transportation Plan - Agency Innovates to Improve Production and Promote Healthier Work Environment.

Denver, CO – January 14, 2016 —  The Colorado Department of Transportation (CDOT) announced that it is the first state agency in the country to adopt a digital print solution for traffic signs on all state and county roads. This digital solution provides many benefits, including allowing the agency to significantly increase its sign production capability, providing operational efficiencies for complex, multi-colored signs and creating a healthier workplace environment for sign shop operators due to minimal exposure to potentially hazardous print chemicals.

Prior to implementing the digital solution, CDOT conducted an extensive study comparing digital printing to traditional print methods of sign fabrication. The study's findings suggested that traffic signs produced digitally are more durable and significantly easier to produce than those printed via traditional methods. In addition, because of the efficient nature of the digital print process, CDOT is able to cut its print time per sign, thus outputting more in the same amount of time.

“With this type of innovation we believe the ultimate winner will be the driving public, who will have a better function transportation system,” said Shailen Bhatt, CDOT executive director.  “Colorado is continually seeking to not just innovate on behalf of our employees, but also for a better return on the taxpayers’ investment.”

Traffic signs must meet very strict requirements for reflectivity and durability to protect the safety of the travelling public. Research shows that a majority of US DOTs and private sign fabricators are using 40-plus year old methods to produce traffic signs. These outdated methods are resource intensive, messy and expensive. According to the Federal Highway Administration (FWHA), $174M is spent each year on traffic sign replacement, which, according to the Colorado DOT, this could be significantly reduced by converting to digital printing.

“CDOT estimates it will save Colorado taxpayers approximately $100,000 annually by converting all of its traffic sign production from traditional screen printing and overlay film production to digital printing,” added Bernard Cole, CDOT Sign Shop supervisor. “Thus, more dollars can be invested in maintaining roads, improving safety and reducing congestion. Digital printing techniques will also reduce the amount of hazardous waste produced in the process by using less ink and cleaning chemicals to produce the signs – protecting our employees.”

Check out this video for more information.

Find  more information on innovation efforts from CDOT.