Taggers cost tax payers money after defacing interstate roadsigns

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KANSAS CITY, Kan. -- An increase in graffiti on highway signs in Kansas is leaving drivers confused and causing taxpayers big money. The Kansas Department of Transportation says it's becoming all too common to see that vandals have painted over the signs.

Drivers around the metro area often rely on those big green highway signs to provide accurate directions when traveling on the interstate system.

Vandalism has been a particular problem along I-35 in Wyandotte and Johnson counties, where taggers have defaced signs to the point where you can't read the original information that was on them.

At I-35 and 37th Avenue taggers have made exit signs unreadable for the traveling public.

KDOT tells FOX 4 News workers often have to replace the large signs after they have been vandalized.

Last year KDOT says it had to repair or replace 10 signs along I-70 that had been tagged by graffiti artists. That cost taxpayers $18,400.

"It's a problem for us because we try to remove it with graffiti remover," said Oscar Hamilton, KDOT Maintenance Superintendent. "That stuff works real well. It can remove the facing of the sign and we have to replace the signs. So it can get quite costly."

Hamilton says two large signs at I-35 and Southwest Boulevard are going to cost Kansas taxpayers about $6,500 to replace. The state says after they are replaced, crews will take down the ladders and catwalk to deter vandals from getting up there again. That access was supposed to be only for maintenance crews, and without the ladder and catwalk, it's going to be harder and more dangerous for KDOT to work on the signs.

It's also a danger for maintenance crews to close lanes and get in traffic to repair or replace the signs.

Law enforcement hasn't been very successful in capturing the taggers. If you can help them with information, call the TIPS Hotline at 816.474.TIPS (8477).

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