Commonwealth Journal

March 18, 2014

Transportation cabinet is going to remove signs from right-of-ways

by Chris Harris
Commonwealth Journal

Somerset — The signs are all around us — particularly during political season.

Unfortunately, that can become a big problem when you’re trying to drive.

On Tuesday, the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet District 8 office released a statement saying that all campaign signs and other similar signage placed on state right-of-ways that restrict sight distance or interfere with state maintenance will be removed by Kentucky Transportation crews in the coming weeks.

According to Amber Hale, information officer for District 8, these signs — which have a range in size and are often found placed in the grass along the roads and at intersections — pose a potential hazard to motorists and mowing crews alike.

“We’ve started getting a few complaints (about such signs) sporadically,” said Hale. “Mainly because of sight issues, vision issues.

“Every campaign season, this is something we deal with,” she added. “We’re not saying it’s mainly political, but it’s just something we like to keep in people’s heads.”

Of course, 2014 has offered one of the more active political seasons in recent memory, with scores of candidates on the ballot — meaning lots of signs out on the road. There are, however, plenty more representing businesses, individual yard sales, and numerous other positing, noted Hale.

“The main issue that we see is the sight-distance issue,” said Hale. “With a lot of the signs at intersections, it blocks the sight-distance for drivers pulling in and out of secondary roads, being able to turn and whatnot.”

If you can’t see adequately if a car is coming because of a sign, in other words, you may have a crash — or, alternately, hit a pedestrian that’s been blocked by a sign.

Mowing the grass alongside roads also becomes more problematic by the presence of illegally-posted signs.

“(Crews) go through and try to remove (the signs) anyway,” said Hale, “but we try to keep any foreign objects out so they aren’t thrown from the mower into oncoming traffic.

“If a mower was to hit one of those signs, it could cause damage to the equipment and could put people in danger, in traffic as well as nearby bystanders.”

 Such signs are against state law, noted Hale. Offenders are given a 30-day notice to remove said signs and are then dealt with in the court system.

The City of Somerset passed its own law against signs along the roadway last July, but the Cabinet is responsible for those roads maintained by the state,

This also includes the walkway bridge going over east Ky. 80 near the intersection with Ky. 1247. That’s a definitely problem area, said Hale.

“We’ve had a lot of issues with it,” she said. “People hanging signs up there ... is also considered encroaching. There is a permit process they can go through (to have a sign placed on the bridge). They would have to contact our permits department. But as far as political signs and advertising businesses, they cannot go on that walkway.

“Crews have been complaining about being out there almost every day removing banners from the bridge,” she added. “Some people go to a lot of trouble getting those up there.”

State law prohibits signs attached to utility poles or fences on the right-of-way as well as on the ground.

Signs will be moved to the state highway garage in each county of District 8 and kept for two weeks. Unclaimed signs will be discarded.