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Political signs not allowed on highway right of way

The Ottawa Herald Staff

OTTAWA—It’s a sign of the season – campaign signs all over the place.

Political signs are prohibited on state highway right-of-ways, Department of Transportation (KDOT), officials said earlier this week in a press release.

By law, all right-of-way on state highways is to be used exclusively for public highway purposes, officials said. Only regulatory, guide signs and warning signs are allowed on the state highway system. KDOT has jurisdiction over all interstate, Kansas and U.S. routes on the state’s 9,500-mile system.

When KDOT maintenance crews find political or business advertising on state right of way, the signs will be removed immediately without notice, officials said, All such signs will then be taken to the closest KDOT subarea office where they can be picked up by the owner with the agreement they will not be placed on state right of way again. All political campaign signs not picked up will be disposed of after the election.

Political campaign advertising is allowed on private property bordering state right of way, officials said. However, people erecting signs on private property must first obtain permission from the property owner.

In many cities, it used to be illegal to plant a political yard sign in the right-of-way between the sidewalk and the curb.

Now, such signs are legal.

The Kansas Legislature passed campaign legislation in 2015 that included a new section on political signs. The state statute supersedes city and county codes and ordinances on political signs.

The 2015 law prohibits cities and counties from regulating or barring placement of political signs on private property or on the property’s unpaved right-of-way for city streets or county roads. Also, local governments cannot regulate the number of signs.

Political signs may be displayed from 45 days prior to an election to two days after an election. However, cities and counties do have the authority to regulate the size and a setback distance for the placement of signs, so that they do not impede sight lines for safety reasons.