Thursday, June 24, 2010

Saving Signs

Teens and others may think it's a hoot to vandalize highway signs with spray paint and paintballs.

Not us.

We think it's ripping off taxpayers who have to foot the bill for a new sign, and that's money that could go to road repairs.

So we're fighting back. We're the first transportation department in the nation to test various paint removers on highway signs so they can be cleaned rather than replaced. And we're pleased to report our efforts have met with success.

While there are many paint removal products on the market, the trick was finding one that wouldn't render a highway sign "dead," meaning it wouldn't strip away the materials that make the sign reflective at night or leave a shadow where the paint hit. Our crews recently put the products to work on several signs near LaMonte, Mo., with positive results, and we'll be sharing our findings with other states.

Cleaning a sign rather than replacing it saves as much as $1,000 depending on the sign's size. That might not take away the thrill some folks get from hearing the splat of a paintball hitting a highway sign, but it sure makes us feel better.

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