By 2018, motorists can expect all street signs to be larger and easier to see at night.
A federal mandate passed two years ago requires Tennessee to make all of its signage more reflective in five years, and regulatory signs have to be replaced by June 13, 2014, according to the Federal Highway Administration.
City and county officials have been steadily making the transition when they can to meet the nearing deadline.
Eddie Simpson, road superintendent for Loudon County, said his department started changing signage after he was elected in 2010.
"We're changing everything as we go right now," Simpson said. "If we go put up a stop sign and that particular four-way stop has got four street signs, then we as well go put up the street signs too. So everybody's seeing a lot of change right now, even in street signs."
County sign placements will total $80,000 after both regulatory and street signs are in place, Simpson said. Between 45-50 percent has been completed, and everything is expected to be ready before 2018, he said.
Borders have been put around each new placement to help make the image easier for drivers to see at night.
Loudon is in a similar situation, starting exchanges a little more than four years ago, Bill Fagg, public works director, said.
About 95 percent of stop signs and speed limit signs have been replaced with a more reflective display, Fagg said. Plans are to have those finished by this year, he said. Street signage is being "played by ear" to make sure they can withstand heavy winds. Harrison Bend and River Bend are the only two streets that have updated signage, he said.
"I think signs are very important to have, signs that people can see at night," Fagg said. "I think it's a good thing that they passed (this mandate) because you can go into some towns that they've not changed the signs in 30 years, and you can't hardly make them out."
Letters are three inches bigger than before, Fagg said. Loudon's budget has $6,000 put aside to meet federal standards. However, that should drop to $3,000 for upkeep once the city is in compliance, he said. Unlike the county, Loudon chose to keep regular signs that were more reflective because it was cheaper, Fagg said.
Higher reflectivity will help drivers see better at night, Simpson said.
Greenback Mayor Tom Peeler said drivers will do what they want regardless of the aesthetic differences.
"They (drivers) ain't going to stop for them," Peeler said. "I don't care if they paint them red, white and blue. They ain't going to stop for them if they don't want to."
Peeler said Greenback has not started replacements, but they will be ready by the deadline. The city's 2013-14 fiscal year budget has $30,000 of capital outlay put aside.
"I think it identifies all the roads better," Simpson said. "If nothing else just to see that everybody puts back up signs because a lot of counties ... didn't have any signs up, and this gave them an opportunity to put the signs back on every street, and I think that was a plus for everybody involved."
Philadelphia is in more of a bind financially and has yet to replace any signs. With a total budget of $84,000 this fiscal year, the city has just $6,980 allocated for street repairs.
Alderman Chris Miller said Philadelphia will pay the county road department to make all of the regulatory signs.
"They (Philadelphia) don't have a lot of signs, but they do have several," Simpson said. "And with that new reflectivity you're talking about ... 80 bucks or so for a stop sign, and every intersection they've got four. It's not cheap."
Lenoir City is replacing signs on an "as needed basis" and expect to be ready before 2018, Dale Hurst, city administrator, said.
Between $10,000-$12,000 has been put aside in this year's budget for the cosmetic updates, Street Superintendent J.J. Cox said. About $50,000 will be spent to cover all signs, he added.
Hurst said the city is about 15 percent complete, and the street department will make a "push" this fall.
"We have some money allocated," Hurst said. "We're going to probably step up the pace a little bit."