JACKSON – With the beginning of mowing season and the approaching 2012 primary election, state and contract mowing crews are noticing a crop of political signs popping up along with the grass along state highways. Candidates and their supporters are reminded that placing signs on the right of way is illegal, and the signs can pose a hazard to motorists and workers alike.
During each election cycle, state highway workers remove and discard dozens of these illegally-placed signs. Political candidates and their supporters can avoid the expense of having these signs discarded by not placing them on state right of way.
“This is a matter of safety, not only for motorists but for our employees and contractors who put their lives at risk every day to maintain our roads,” said Corbett Caudill, acting chief district engineer for the Department of Highways District 10. The district includes Breathitt, Estill, Lee, Magoffin, Menifee, Morgan, Owsley, Perry, Powell and Wolfe counties. “These signs restrict sight distance at busy intersections, which are often popular places for these signs to be placed. Some of them can become hazards if they are blown over by the wind and end up on the highway. They are often placed in the ‘clear zone’ which is the recovery zone for motorists who run off the roadway. And others interfere with some of our maintenance activities. Especially with mowing season now underway, the signs can become dangerous projectiles if one of the mowers strikes one and the blades propel it.”
Since these signs can interfere with driver safety and impede mowing and other maintenance operations along state roads, officials in Frankfort routinely direct maintenance personnel to remove these illegal encroachments on state rights of way.
Once the sign removal program begins, signs encroaching upon the state’s right of way that create a sight distance or other safety hazard or impede maintenance operations will be removed as necessary.
“State law prohibits the placement of these signs on state highway right of way,” Caudill said. “When necessary, we will remove these illegally-placed signs so they will not interfere with our mowing and maintenance operations, and so they will not pose a safety hazard to motorists. These signs will be removed without regard to whom they promote. We will treat all illegal signs the same.”
Various Kentucky state laws, administrative regulations and Transportation Cabinet policies prohibit the placement of political or other advertising signs on state right of way. This includes any signs attached to utility poles within the state right of way.
“Because such signs can distract drivers, obstruct sight distance, reduce the recovery zone for drivers who run off the road, negatively impact roadside aesthetics, and interfere with mowing and litter removal, they are expressly prohibited on state right of way and will be removed,” Caudill said.
“When our employees take down illegal signs, they are simply doing their jobs as required by law and as directed by the Department of Highways,” Caudill added. “We appreciate the understanding and cooperation of the public.”
“The safety of the traveling public is our overriding concern,” he continued. “There are several valid safety reasons that signs should not be placed on state right of way, and we are committed to keeping our highways as safe as possible.”