Graffiti shields used to deter sign taggers

Graffiti shields used to deter sign taggers

May 15, 2013

Shields are being used in a few locations to combat graffiti.

A whole lot of work goes into making sure ADOT signs stay readable, reflective and in good repair

That’s why it is so upsetting to see one of those signs after it has been defaced with graffiti.

Graffiti, besides often being an eyesore, can affect a sign’s readability by obstructing the text. And, did you know that spray paint damages a sign’s reflective coating making it more difficult to read at night?

In addition to all that, cleaning graffiti from a sign (or replacing that sign all together) can require a freeway closure, which costs time and money, but is necessary for the safety of the ADOT crews doing the work as well as the driving public.

So, if graffiti is the problem, what’s the answer?

Depending on your commute, you may already have noticed one solution being tested on a few of the state’s highway signs.

Graffiti shields (see photo above) are intended to prevent someone from reaching over to spray graffiti on the signs. The two-foot shield extensions make it nearly impossible.

The shields were designed in-house and are fabricated by ADOT’s Interstate Signing crew. They could potentially mean a cost savings in the long-term because ADOT crews won’t have to replace the signs as often and traffic control isn’t needed to close down a highway. Initial costs for the shields include the need for one full closure, along with labor and materials.

According to ADOT's Interstate Signing Supervisor, Dudley Heller, the aluminum shields are fairly easy to install – they bolt right on to the actual sign. He says a lot of thought was put into the shield design, down to the color. The shields are painted with a flat black paint because if maintenance crews do need to repaint a portion of the shield, there’s no need for color matching out in the field.

The shields seem to be doing their job by keeping taggers away. On top of that, many drivers say they like the look of the shields.

“I’ve gotten a lot of good reviews,” Heller said. “People will tell me, ‘they ought to put the graffiti shields on all the signs’.”

For information on how ADOT combats graffiti on freeway structures, check out this blog post from last year.