It is illegal to place a sign on state right-of-way. It is also illegal to attach a sign to a structure already installed on state right-of-way. Highway workers in the seven counties of KYTC District 12 have an ongoing directive to remove such signs from roadsides and intersections. District 12 includes the following counties: Lawrence, Johnson, Floyd, Martin, Knott, Pike, and Letcher.
“There are more political signs this time of year than any other type,” said Mary Westfall-Holbrook, Chief District Engineer. “But the only signs allowed on state property are state signs.”
As examples, Westfall-Holbrook cited sale signs for a business and those advertising a number to call about jobs. “Even posting a sign for a yard sale, taped to a speed limit sign or a stop sign is illegal,” she said.
People sometimes put a lot of money and work into such signs, she noted. “The fact is, though, they create safety problems, such as sight distance issues, and it is our responsibility to make the roads as safe as we can. They interfere with mowing and litter pickup, and recently have interfered with snow and ice removal.”
Warmer weather means that maintenance crews will be cleaning out ditchlines and replacing cross drains. Illegal signs interfere with this work, too.
“In the interest of safety and maintenance, our crews have been directed to remove all illegal signs. We have had a few blitz programs in the past, warning people in advance and then spending an entire week or more taking down signs. By now, though, people should know that putting signs on state right-of-way is not permissible. Now we take them down as we see them.”
Westfall-Holbrook said signs will be at the nearest maintenance facility for about a month in case the sign owner wants them back so they can be put on private property. “We don’t have to keep them or return them, so when we clean out the lot, they will be destroyed,” she cautioned. “We are not responsible for damage to any sign or sign post that we remove, since they were installed illegally to begin with.”
If people want to remove their own signs, rather than run the risk they are damaged or destroyed when the state removes them, that is their choice, Westfall-Holbrook said. “We aren’t trying to sound mean about this. It is simply part of our job, and something we take seriously. We really believe that most taxpayers would rather we spend our time patching potholes or cleaning out ditchlines instead of taking down signs that shouldn’t be there in the first place.”