Drivers having a tough time on snowy roads have been taking a toll on street signs.


The municipality’s Paint and Sign Shop reported 971 repairs so far this winter; last winter crews repaired 1802 signs.


As the snow piles up around town, the orders at the shop start to stack up too.


“There’s your perfect one-way,” Charmalee Howard said as she showed off a shiny new sign.


Howard is part of the shop’s six-person crew in charge of more than 66,000 signs in the Anchorage area, from Girdwood to Eklutna.


“I don’t think people think about signs at all,” Howard said. “When people ask me what I do, people say, ‘I never really thought about where the signs came from or how they got repaired.’”


The municipality makes most signs to order but keeps a stockpile of signs ready to go for an emergency, like a downed stop sign or yield sign.


“One-way signs, even island signs, telling you there’s an island there,” Howard explained. “Our snow storm is a perfect example. If the island signs aren’t there and you don’t know the islands are there, you’re high-centered on an island all of a sudden.”


It’s up to technicians in the field to get the signs back up as quickly as they can.


“Our biggest time is getting there,” said technician Robert Ward. “If there isn’t a problem or a real massacred sign we can have it up really fast.”


Since the beginning of the year, Ward and others have had to put up one stop sign almost every day.


“Lots of corners is what I’m noticing,” Ward said as he repaired an arrow sign on the corner of Sixth Avenue and Ingra Street. “Just like this corner, someone tried to make a fast turn, lost it.”


Crews advise drivers to slow down because taking out signs costs you and the municipality time and money. It costs more than $100 for a simple fix and up to $300 if a major sign—like a stop sign or yield sign—needs to be repaired after hours.


The Paint and Sign Shop has a 24-hour hotline to report downed signs: 907-343-4384. Press extension one to talk to a person to report an emergency like a damaged stop, yield or one-way sign; press extension two for non-emergencies.


KTVA 11’s Heather Hintze can be reached via email or on Facebook and Twitter.


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