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Section 4: Illegal Signs on the Right of Way

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Policy

A person may not place a sign on a public road or right of way unless authorized by state law or otherwise approved by the department.

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Political Signs

It is illegal to place political signs on the right of way. No notification before removal is required. However, the department should make an effort to contact local political campaign headquarters prior to the election season to request that they not place political signs on the rights of way. The same procedures should be utilized to remove them.

Under Election Code, Section 255.007 political signs are required to have the following notice placed on the sign: "NOTICE: IT IS A VIOLATION OF STATE LAW (CHAPTERS 392 AND 393, TRANSPORTATION CODE), TO PLACE THIS SIGN IN THE RIGHT OF WAY OF A HIGHWAY."

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Regulated Sign

If a sign permitted under Transportation Code, Chapter §391, "Highway Beautification on Inter-state and Primary Systems and Certain Roads", encroaches on state highway right of way, the department will notify the sign's owner of the encroachment with Form 2055 "Notice of Unauthorized Sign Placement, 31 Day Notice" and request that the encroachment is remedied.

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Sign Removal

TxDOT may immediately and without prior notice remove a sign erected, placed or maintained, in whole or in part, on state highway right of way if the sign is not authorized by state law or approved by the department. If a traffic hazard exists, the sign should be removed as soon as practical. Other unauthorized signs should be removed as the workload permits after proper notification.

In accordance with the terms of the Municipal Maintenance Agreement, unauthorized signs within the limits of incorporated cities should be removed by the city.

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Storage of Removed Signs

Removed signs should be stored at a department maintenance office pending disposal or return to the rightful owner(s). Signs should be stored in such a manner as to minimize damage. The department has the obligation to exercise ordinary care while such personal property is in its possession.

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Notification of Removal

No notification prior to removal is necessary. If TxDOT removes the sign and the name and address of the owner is reasonably ascertainable, the department will notify the owner of the sign's removal within three working days of the date of removal and provide the owner information regarding retrieval of the sign. A sample notice of removal form can be found at the end of this section. Reasonably ascertainable means that either the name and mailing address of the owner are displayed on the sign, or a name is displayed on the sign from which the department can identify the name and address of the owner.

If immediate removal is not necessary and the name and address of the owner is reasonably ascertained, the department will notify the owner that the sign must be removed within 14 calendar days. A 14-day notice can be given using Form 2054 "Notice of Unauthorized Sign Placement, 14 Day Notice". If the owner does not remove the sign within 14 calendar days or if the owner is not reasonably ascertainable, the department may remove the sign without further notice.

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Notice to Immediately Remove a Sign

If an unauthorized sign is placed on the right of way and the owner can be easily contacted in person, Form 2052, "Notice of Unauthorized Sign Placement Immediate Removal," may be handed to the owner. This form should only be used when it can be handed to the sign owner. The owner should be informed that state forces will remove the sign as soon as possible if the owner does not remove it immediately.

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Removal Costs

The department will notify the owner of all removal costs and the procedures for retrieving the removed sign(s). The owner will remit the costs by cash, cashier's check or money order to the appropriate district office within 30 days of the date of the notice. If the owner fails to remit all costs, the department may refer the matter to the Office of the Attorney General for collection.

To expedite the process, estimated costs may used in place of actual costs. The following table shows how to calculate estimated removal costs for both temporary and permanent unauthorized signs.

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Anchor: #i1004557How to Calculate Removal Costs for Unauthorized Signs

Step

 

1

Obtain the State's average cost per sign for removing unauthorized signs. (Function Code 580 for temporary signs or Function Code 581 for permanent signs)

2

Figure the indirect or overhead cost. This will be a percentage of the average unit cost described in Step 1. This percentage is computed annually by the Finance Division and can be obtained from the district accounting office.

3

Add the average cost obtained in Step 1 to the indirect cost obtained in Step 2.

4

Multiply the sum obtained in Step 3 by the number of signs involved.


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Retrieval of Signs by the Owners

Owners may declare ownership of their signs at any time between time of removal and before disposal. However, owners may regain possession of their signs only after proof of payment of appropriate removal costs. Proof of payment may be obtained from the appointed payment locations in the district.

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Disposal of Signs

The department may dispose of a removed sign unless it is claimed by the owner within 10 days after the date of removal or the date notice is mailed in accordance with notification requirements, whichever is later. The department may return a sign to its owner after payment of appropriate removal costs. If an owner claims a sign within 10 days but removal costs are unpaid, the department should inform the owner of payment procedures. Unless the owner makes arrangements to retrieve the sign, the department may dispose of the sign after 30 days following the date of removal or the original date of notification, whichever is later.

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Record Keeping

Districts should keep a permanent record of each incident of unauthorized signs on the right of way. Form 2059 "Illegal Signs on the Right of Way Log" may be used for record keeping of billing and payment received or disposal if applicable.

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