In the heat of campaign season, candidate signs are plentiful along local roadways.
Numerous signs were uprooted from U.S. Highway 441 and currently sit at the local department maintenance shop.
Much of the signage violates state code regarding Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) right of ways. A non-permitted sign on the right of way of a state route or interstate is an obstruction and against the law.
Cissy McNure, with GDOT's East Central Georgia District Office Communications, said any sign along Georgia's state routes and interstates must meet safety standards and be permitted by GDOT to be in the right of way, defined as the strip of land over which facilities such as highways, railroads or power lines are built and maintained.
According to Georgia Code 32-6-51, “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.”
This is a misdemeanor violation and punishable by up to a $1,000 fine or 12 months in jail.
GDOT maintenance crews remove signs as part of routine road and shoulder maintenance.
McNure said signs that are removed from right of way by GDOT personnel are held for a short time at the local maintenance office and then destroyed. This includes yard sale, real estate and general advertisement signs.
“To prevent the loss of signs, do not place them within the right of way,” she said. “This is an ongoing concern, but it escalates close to elections with the addition of the political signs. Signs can create a safety hazard because they distract drivers and interfere with a driver's line of sight.”
Most counties are using their code enforcement officer to give citations, especially to repeat offenders, and also notify political candidates upon qualification.
With the time required to file court actions and issue citations, communities generally find it easier to just dispose of them.
For more information regarding signage, contact the Milledgeville Area GDOT Office, located at 161 Blandy Road, by calling 478-445-5130.