Good Question: Who is responsible for removing old political signs?

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ROCHESTER, N.Y. — This good question is about political campaign signs. In November, they were everywhere and if you drive down certain areas of the highway right now, you might still spot some.

This week, a viewer asked us about the rules for political signage on highways, now that the election is behind us.

Carol writes: “Now that it’s been weeks after the election, I’m still seeing many political campaign signs stuck in the ground everywhere that haven’t been removed. I especially see many along the 490 East Expressway between the Penfield and Fairport Road exits. Who is responsible for removing these now, as they are distracting, dated, and becoming litter?”

The New York State Department of Transportation will remove signs if they’re placed in certain areas and if they cause problems. There are a couple of issues with the signs carol spotted on 490.

First, political signs fall under the category of temporary signs, which, the state DOT says “may remain in the state’s right-of-way up to three days after the event has occurred.”

Second, roads like 490 East and any controlled-access or expressway-type road are always off-limits for political signs.

I asked the state DOT if it would be taking down the signs on 490 East, and the department says:

“NYSDOT crews will remove political signs from our right-of-way as time allows during the course of normal maintenance activities.”

The DOT tells me they will remove the signs in the coming days. Keep in mind, it all depends on your town.

According to the New York State division of local government services, “local governments may forbid the posting of signs on public property, as long as it’s in an evenhanded, content-neutral manner”. In other words, a town can’t ban signs from one political party without banning signs from all political parties.

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