Wrong right of way for campaign signs

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There is a time and a place for campaign signs.

On the right-of-way of the Idaho Department of Transportation, land is not the place.

“Incorrect placement of signs or banners can compromise the safety of the road and its users,” ITD says on its website, itd.idaho.gov, under “Rules of the Road: Temporary Signs.”

Under Idaho’s code, those who “erect, install, fasten, or paint” signs on property without the permission of the owner or occupier could be charged with a misdemeanor. Also according to the Idaho code, no advertising display is authorized to be placed in the right-of-way of a freeway.

Campaign signs for Janice McGeachin, Dorothy Moon and Priscilla Giddings were found in the right-of-way at East Mullan Trail Road and on the Interstate 90 on-ramp into Coeur d’Alene.

Megan Jahns confirmed that the signs were placed on ITD’s right-of-way adjacent to private property.

“While it’s an easy place to advertise, properties along highways and freeways are not for political statements,” Jahns said Thursday. “This land, what we call the right of way, is protected by law and essential to the operation of transportation. Obstructing it with signs can pose a safety concern, and safety concerns will be removed immediately.”

The right-of-way includes the land under and adjacent to the roadway necessary for the safe operation of the highway. For many roads, it includes shoulders and areas of poor drainage.

ITD notes a few features on its website to help guide proper panel placement.

“If there’s a fence along the highway, you probably shouldn’t put signs between the fence and the highway,” ITD says. “If you don’t see a fence, but you do see utility poles along the highway, those are usually placed just inside the right-of-way. So you can use utility poles as a general marker and do not place signs between them and the highway.”

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