Illegal Signs Create Additional Problems During Mowing Season

| May 19, 2016

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TIFTON, Ga. – Illegally-placed signs on state rights of way is a year-round issue for the Georgia Department of Transportation, but is especially problematic one month into mowing season.

In southwest Georgia, the right of way of Interstate 75 is scheduled to be mowed four times this year and other state routes three times. Signs in the right of way will slow down the mowing crew and can create a safety hazard if the wire frame gets hung up in the mower and is slung out, Southwest District Maintenance Engineer Stacy Aultman said.

“We don’t allow any kind of illegal encroachment on our right of way. It’s election season, which means people are putting more of these signs out there,” Aultman said.

In a recent two-day period, GDOT Permit Inspector Engineer Amy Spivey estimates she picked up 50 signs in Coffee County alone. While the number of political signs typically increases during an election year, they are not the only problem. Signs that advertise yard sales and real estate or goods and services for sale are often found in the right of way. In addition to being unsightly, unauthorized signs can distract drivers or obstruct their view.

Signs on the state highway system – interstates and state routes – must be approved and permitted to be placed on the right of way. Georgia Code 32-6-51 states that “it shall be unlawful for any person to erect, place or maintain within the right of way of any public road any sign, signal or other device except as authorized by subsection (d) of this Code section.” Violation is a misdemeanor and is punishable by a fine up to $1,000 and/or 12 months in jail.

The width of the right of way depends on the route. If there are power poles on the right of way, the edge is usually behind the poles. However, check with your local GDOT office for guidance if you aren’t sure where signs are allowed on a particular route.

Signs removed by GDOT employees are held temporarily to give the owners an opportunity to pick them up. The Department attempts to the owners before discarding the signs. To reclaim signs, contact your local GDOT office.

Every day Georgia DOT employees work on roadways in close proximity to travel lanes. Whether they’re in maintenance, in construction or are HEROs, it’s dangerous. Fifty-eight Georgia DOT personnel and many more motorists, passengers and contractors’ workers have been killed in work zone crashes since 1973. When you drive in a work zone, obey the rules: Pay Attention – Slow Down – Watch for Workers. It can make the difference between life and death. Visit www.dot.ga.gov/DS/SafetyOperation/Workzone.

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