GDOT warns that signs on state right-of-way will be removed
Published 8:45 am Tuesday, September 12, 2023
With local political races just starting up, the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) is sending a friendly reminder that signage of any kind that is found in the state right of way and not previously authorized is unlawful and will be removed as soon as possible after discovery by Georgia DOT maintenance crews as part of the department’s routine maintenance work.
Signs on the state highway system —interstates and state routes— must be approved and permitted to be placed on the right of way. The number of unauthorized political signs typically increases during an election year, but they are not the only problem. Signs that advertise yard sales, real estate or goods and services for sale are often found in the right of way. Unauthorized signs can distract drivers or obstruct their view and also can lead to debris that clogs drainage systems along highways and state routes during inclement weather, which creates safety hazards.
This is not a Troup County rule or a city rule; it’s a state law.
Georgia Code 32-6-51 states that “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.” Georgia law also stipulates that the department is required to maintain a safe roadway for the traveling public, which includes the immediate removal of any obstruction or hazard that may pose a threat to the traveling public.
The width of the right of way depends on the route. If there are power poles on the right of way, the edge is usually behind the poles. However, check with your local Georgia DOT office for guidance if you aren’t sure where signs are allowed on a particular route.
Many have accused political opponents of stealing their road signs, which sometimes happens, but it’s often not quite that nefarious. It’s just enforcing the law.
It’s not unusual for GDOT maintenance employees to uproot several hundred signs during an election year. These signs are then taken back to the crew’s county headquarters and held for 30 days, giving the owners an opportunity to reclaim them.
If not reclaimed, the signs are destroyed.