SAN ANTONIO - Just about everywhere you turn, you can find a street sign in San Antonio. We often take them for granted, but they are vitally important. Beyond that, San Antonio also happens to be rare when it comes to how our city street signs are made.
"There aren't very many cities that have an in-house sign fabrication shop,” explained Lilly Banda, capital programs manager for the city of San Antonio.
The city invited KSAT inside the city’s Transportation and Capital Improvement’s (TCI) new warehouse, located on the far west side. A miniature factory of sorts, it can churn out over 100 street signs a day. It begins as a computer image. From there, the process includes adding adhesives to aluminum, along with a reflective coating. It is a joint effort between man and machine.
“We are charged with maintenance of all of the traffic signs for the city of San Antonio,” said Banda.
It is a big job. After all, San Antonio has a whopping 4,000 miles of streets; a number that continues to grow. As a result, signs are always needed and hundreds of thousands of signs require maintenance, between wear and tear, graffiti and theft.
In addition to keeping costs down, fabricating signs “in-house” allows for quick action.
“What that does for us is that it allows us to be responsive,” said Banda.
Calls into the city’s 311 service requesting new signage are addressed quickly.
"This one, we had a faded one on the roadway,” explained operations supervisor Kyle Horstman, holding an “Entering Edwards Aquifer Recharge Zone” green and white sign.
A specialty sign like this could take weeks to receive, if it were coming from a third party. In this case, the request was quickly addressed at the TCI warehouse.
Signs of all different shapes and sizes are filed way in the warehouse. This organization also extends out to San Antonio’s roads when installation occurs.
"We're not just adding random signs anywhere,” said Horstman. “They’re all purposeful and for a reason and we consider the impact before we put them in."
As for the type of sign that keeps them most busy? It all comes back to San Antonio’s rapid growth.
"Street name signs,” said Banda. “Those are the bulk of the signs that we fabricate."
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