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Keep event signs away from highway rights of way

Spring marks the season opener for garage sales, open houses and auctions, but placing signs promoting the events in highway rights of way create potential hazards, warns the Minnesota Department of Transportation (MnDOT).

Signs in rights of way, especially at intersections, can distract drivers and obstruct their vision, MnDOT officials advise.

"When warm weather begins, there is a significant increase in advertising signs and items for sale placed along the state's roadways to attract the attention of passing motorists," said Steve Lund, state maintenance engineer. "Signs created to attract the driver's eye can easily distract motorists from paying full attention to driving."

Highway rights of way include driving lanes, shoulders, ditches, clear zones and sight corners at intersections. Placing signs or objects in the right of way is a misdemeanor that carries a maximum $1,000 fine and/or 90 days in jail.

State law also specifies that signs and other items cannot be placed on private property outside the right of way limits but in close proximity to a roadway without consent from the landowner.

MnDOT maintenance staff will remove signs located within rights of way without notice.

If there are large objects that cannot be easily removed, MnDOT may issue a notice requiring their removal. Items commonly found in rights of way include cars and other vehicles, boats and motors, campers and travel trailers, produce stands and large bales of hay.