Spinning our Wheels

Spinning our Wheels is a commuting blog about the challenges of getting around Atlanta by car, bus, MARTA, bicycles and on foot written by transportation reporter David Wickert

Georgia DOT: Why we removed Stacey Abrams signs

The Georgia Department of Transportation has come under fire for removing Stacey Abrams campaign signs from a state highway. But the agency says it’s merely enforcing state law, without favor or partisanship. 

On Wednesday a video circulating on social media showed GDOT employees removing Abrams signs from Ga. 7 in Lamar County. The woman shooting the video suggests the action was illegal. 

Not so, according to GDOT spokeswoman Natalie Dale. 

Dale said it’s illegal to place unauthorized signs in any public right of way. As anyone who’s ever passed an intersection littered with ‘We Buy Houses” signs can tell, it’s hard for employees to remove all signs. But Dale said they remove them “to the degree we can.” 

“We don’t care whose signs they are,” she said. “Our maintenance crews remove signs that are illegally put on state right of way.” 

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Dale said roadside signs can distract drivers or obstruct their view. In a storm, they can be blown over and clog storm drains, causing flooding. 

Dale said some of the Abrams signs in Lamar County were placed at the edge of the pavement and were clearly in violation of state law. 

But in a heated election season, the action prompted an outcry from some Abrams supporters. The Democrat is locked in a tight race for governor with Republican Brian Kemp. 

Dale said some Abrams supporters have called GDOT asking that the employees who removed the signs be fired. But she said they did nothing wrong. 

“It’s not a partisan issue,” Dale said.

GDOT says it’s not unusual for crews to uproot several hundred signs during an election year. The signs are taken to GDOT headquarters and held for 30 days to allow campaigns to claim them. If they are not claimed, they are destroyed.

About the Author

David Wickert writes about transportation issues for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. He previously worked for newspapers in Washington state, Illinois, Virginia and Tennessee.

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