Fact Finders: Can political signs go anywhere?

You won’t see many political signs along major highways in the Ozarks.
Published: Jun. 29, 2022 at 7:02 PM CDT
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SPRINGFIELD, Mo. (KY3) - Political signs are popping up all over the Ozarks.

Missouri’s Primary Election will be held on August 2, and the General Election is scheduled for November 8. So, the question for Fact Finders this week; Can you put political signs anywhere you want?

Political signs are considered free speech. But you won’t see many political signs along major highways in the Ozarks. MoDOT has strict rules about what can go in the right of way. So, no garage-sale signs, banners or political signs in the median or along the shoulders. MoDOT tells us putting yard signs along the road can be dangerous when you stop to put them in the ground. They can also be a hazard if a thunderstorm blows the sign into the road. And they can be a problem for mowers. So, staff will remove the signs when they’re found. But there isn’t a crew assigned to go out and remove signs.

“If it’s a safety issue, and It’s brought it to our attention saying hey, this is blocking, I can’t see the stop sign. So if it’s a safety issue, we’ll get out there right now and take care of it right. But if it’s routine maintenance that’s kind of what we call that. We have a lot of other things that are really important that we’re working on. So, we don’t just to go out there and chase signs all day. It’s not our number one priority. So like I say, if it’s a safety issue, we’ll go take care of her right now,” explained MoDOT Area Engineer Marvin Morris.

Morris also told us there’s a policy when MoDOT takes a sign from the right of way, “We will remove those signs and take them to the nearest maintenance building. And so like if there’s actually a name on the sign or something, we’ll try to contact the owner so that they know you can come to this building and pick up your signs. So you know, we try to take care of them.”

Meantime, each city and each county will have its own rules. In Springfield, signs are prohibited in the city’s right of way. It’s hard to know exactly what the city does and doesn’t own. If there’s a median, don’t put a sign there. If it’s close to the shoulder, you may be in the city’s right of way. But if the sign is on a business’s property, it is allowed with some restrictions. The city does put a limit on the size of the signs. They must also be removed within 48 hours after the election. Remember that a driver can complain that a sign is blocking sight lines and may be taken down.

Here’s the key section of the rules for Springfield: The Code section is Sec. 36-454(4).

Coming back to the question; Can you put political signs anywhere you want? The answer is NO.

If you want to put a sign along a major road you can call MoDot at 1-800 Ask MoDot. Or you can contact your city or county to ensure your spot is okay.

Here’s a flyer from MoDOT on the sign issue:

MoDOT Sign Flyer on unauthorized signs along roads.
MoDOT Sign Flyer on unauthorized signs along roads.(Missouri Department of Transportation)

If you have something you want us to investigate, email us at factfinders@ky3.com.

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