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Political signs not allowed along state highway right of way, removed due to driver safety hazard

(Update: Adding video, comments from ODOT representative)

Dozens of political signs have been removed already

SALEM, Ore. (KTVZ) -- With the Nov. 8 elections coming up, political signs have been popping up around the region.

Posting them in some areas though, has been creating issues, and prompting their removal.

The Oregon Department of Transportation says the public can not post signs on the state highway right-of-way, which is the area adjacent to a highway.

"We started getting a lot of reports from different places. Our crews were being called out," ODOT Public Information Officer Don Hamilton said Monday.

Every election season, ODOT receives complaints from the public and from candidates regarding the improper placement of political signs on the state highway rights-of-way, where only official traffic control devices are allowed. The improperly placed signs, ODOT said, can distract drivers and block road safety messages, serving as a major danger.

"We have to make sure that those signs are not blocking the safety signs that people need," Hamilton said. "We have to make sure that these signs are not causing a distraction to the motorists along the road. Those are the most important things. We also need to make sure that the public doesn’t think that we’re endorsing any candidates or any political ideas out there, too."

Wrongly placed signs will be taken down and held at a nearby ODOT district maintenance office for 30 days. To reclaim signs, go here to find the nearest ODOT maintenance office.

"We’ve already picked up probably a couple of dozen political signs,” Hamilton said. 

He expects the agency to pick up dozens more as the political season continues. 

The city of Redmond also wants to remind everyone that private signs are not permitted in public right of ways, including roundabouts and medians.

And that goes for any private signs, from ballot measures to yard sale signs.

The width of the state right of way varies depending on location, and it’s up to the campaigns to make sure their signs are not on public property. If unsure about a specific location, campaigns should ask their nearest ODOT maintenance office. If you live on a highway, you can use ormap.net to find property lines and ensure your signs stay off the state right of way. 

Signs are prohibited on trees, utility poles, fence posts and natural features within highway right-of-ways. They also are prohibited within view of a designated scenic area.

Local municipalities may also regulate the placement of political signs.

Political signs are allowed on private property within view of state highways with the following restrictions:

  • Signs are limited to 12 square feet but can be up to 32 square feet with a variance from our Oregon Advertising Sign
  • Signs cannot have flashing or intermittent lights, or animated or moving parts.
  • Signs must not imitate official highway signs or devices.
  • Signs are not allowed in scenic corridors.
  • No payment or compensation of any kind can be exchanged for either the placement of or the message on temporary signs, including political signs, which are visible to a state highway.

More information about ODOT’s Outdoor Advertising Sign Program can be found at cms.oregon.gov/odot/hwy/signprogram.

Article Topic Follows: Oregon-Northwest
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Bola Gbadebo

Bola Gbadebo is a multimedia journalist for NewsChannel 21. Learn more about Bola here.

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