The Oklahoma Department of Transportation spends nearly $6 million a year on picking up trash along state highways, including illegally placed signs.
ODOT officials are reminding political candidates and volunteers to keep highways and interstates clean by keeping campaign signs off highway rights-of-way.
Placing campaign signs to promote candidates occurs regularly, but the areas along highways or on bridges are off-limits, ODOT said in a news release. Illegally placed signs can block drivers’ views at intersections, medians, and ramps, and they can endanger volunteers who try to post them along high-speed roads or on bridges.
The public right of way generally includes the grassy area between a highway and the nearby fence. In cities and towns, the right-of-way can extend past the curb to include the grass and sidewalk area along a highway.
The best strategy for placing campaign signs is to put them on private property with the landowner’s permission, according to the news release. Inside city limits, candidates should check local ordinances for questions about city streets and rights-of-way. However, signs are prohibited on state-maintained highways, overpasses, and bridges, even within city limits.
ODOT crews spend time away from other highway maintenance tasks to remove illegally placed signs, which can be time-consuming, dangerous work close to oncoming traffic. Picking up litter, including illegal signs, delays highway mowing since the signs and metal posts could damage state equipment.