DEPARTMENT FOR Transport (DfT) offi cials last week ruled out making British road signs metric on cost grounds They said the cost of converting speed limit signs and those showing heights and distance had risen from £21M in 1989 to £640M.
'We have better things to spend tax payers' money on, ' said a DfT spokesman.
Aside from inflation, much of the increase is down to the introduction of modern traffic calming measures, according to a document published last week by the DfT.
Widespread introduction of 20mph zones in recent years has increased the total number of signs needing to be changed to 500,000.
The DfT released the paper in response to a metrication campaign launched by the UK Metric Association. UKMA said the change from imperial to metric could be completed for between £41M and £160M.
UKMA based its figures on the DfT's 1989 estimate but allowing for inflation.
DfT based its estimate on rates given by the Highways Agency, local highway authorities and sign manufacturers.
It also adjusted 1992 figures showing the number of UK signs that would need replacing to include the new signs used in traffic calming.
The DfT said its paper was a conservative estimate as it did not take into account requirements to relocate structures like motorway gantries, which are at mile and half mile intervals ahead of junctions.
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