Graffiti on Portland’s highways is a growing problem

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PORTLAND Ore. (KPTV) – After the Oregon Department of Transportation said several months ago they’d run out of funding to address graffiti off state roadways, it has started to cover important signage.

ODOT spokesperson Don Hamilton said while they’re doing everything that they can to tackle the problem, it’s not that easy.

“We struggle with these graffiti issues all the time every day, and people can’t really get the good directions that they need to get on the roads,” Hamilton said.

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Hamilton said ODOT is lacking the funds they had in the past to hire contractors to help clear graffiti off signs. Currently, the department only has the resources to focus on removing messages that are explicit, offensive, or dangerously covering important signs.

Crews must also find the time to do that on top of their already existing duties, such as, “to fix potholes, and repair guardrails and all of the other maintenance chores that they have to do.”

While Hamilton acknowledged the danger of having graffiti on highway signs, he said when it comes to the big green ones, it’s not always as easy as scrubbing them down,

“There’s big expenses when we have to replace those big ole’ green freeways signs,” Hamilton said. “Those are not cheap.”

However, graffiti is something found all around Portland. To some, like Trenton from California, it’s not all bad.

“Graffiti is typically an art form,” he said. “Many people speak out that way. From the lowest to the highest, if you have something to say, you should say it. We’re Americans with freedom of choice, will and freedom to express. Bottom line is, as long as it’s not offensive I don’t see what the problem is.”

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Trenton also said there’s a place for it, and that place is not on freeway signs.

“The reality is, it helps control things,” Trenton said. “If you’re blocking that off, it’s not cool.”

Hamilton said if ODOT finds some additional funding, they might be able to hire some contractors to help with the issues the state highways are seeing.

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