Thursday, November 14, 2019

Expressing your creativity on highways comes at a big cost

By Thomas Charlson

There are a number of ways you can express your inner artist. For me, I enjoy painting happy little orange cones (and trees) on our busy traffic weekend paint maps. Taking a can of spray paint and tagging walls or signs along a highway just isn’t the way to do it. Graffiti on our roads can prevent drivers from reading signs, creates a lot of unnecessary work for our maintenance crews and takes money from our maintenance budget that could go to filling potholes, fixing guardrails and other needed tasks.

Last month, I joined our maintenance crews as they covered and cleaned graffiti along I-5 from the King-Pierce County line to Everett.

Over the course of five weeks, we managed to cover more than 208,800 square feet of graffiti using 749 gallons of paint. That’s the equivalent of nearly four football fields!
We also cleaned graffiti on signs using lacquer thinners and painted the backs of signs to cover graffiti. We installed graffiti guards – 4-by-8-foot pieces of sheet metal – used to sandwich the support structures on the overhead signs and prevent people from climbing onto the structure and tagging it.

In the city of Seattle alone, we spent $150,000 in the past month to clean graffiti. Again, this comes from the same funds that we use to repair potholes, clean rest areas, pick up roadside litter, repair guardrails and other maintenance work. It also often means we have to close a lane or two to provide safe working environments for our crews.

Similar to roadside litter, we need everyone’s help to cut down on the cost and time spent cleaning graffiti. Please keep artwork off the highway.

1 comment:

Adina said...

Why would you waste resources erasing art? Just leave it up there. It's culture.

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