Vandalized signs cost counties thousands each year

Clark County replaces about 150 vandalized signs a year due to vandalism, costing between $10,000 and $15,000 annually.

“The price adds up. It’s money we could be using on something else,” Clark County Engineer Johnathan Burr said.

The cost to fix damaged traffic signs doesn’t include any damage from traffic crashes.

“We shouldn’t have to be spending manpower and money to fix this, because quite frankly, it’s senseless to have this happen,” Burr said. “It is just wasted taxpayer money I could be using on something else.”

The problem isn’t unique to Clark County.

Logan County used grant money to replace traffic signs last week and within 12 hours of a new sign going up, it had graffiti saying, “I love you. X-O-X-O.”

“It’s probably between $10,000 and $11,000 a year that it costs Logan County to replace signs,” Logan County Engineer’s Office General Superintendent Todd Bumgardner said.

Logan County was updating its traffic signs to a new sign material that is much brighter and more reflective for drivers.

“You can see them further away and in worse weather conditions,” Burr said.

However, the new signs reflectivity can get ruined by an egg and most paints.

“It’s a pretty fancy coating on them,” Bumgardner said. “Any type of paint remover you go to use on them damages the reflectivity of the sign and it needs to be replaced.”

The signs vary in price, but on average cost about $50 and could last up to 10 years depending on weather conditions.

But very few signs have a decade lifespan, Burr said.

“Three fourths of them are replaced due to vandalism and not the age of the sign,” he said.

The time period between the Clark County Fair and the start of school is the busiest time for vandals to damage traffic signs, according to Clark County’s Traffic Supervisor Tom Smith. Other popular times of the year for vandalism is spring break and right when school gets out for the summer.

“Kids love to write the year they graduated on signs,” he said.

Smith also said he notices some bullet holes in traffic signs during hunting season.

Clark County has 80 percent of its traffic signs updated to the new, more reflective surface and the rest should be changed over by the end of 2015, Burr said.

All counties are required to have the new signs by 2017.