Ask WAVE: Who is responsible for removing graffiti from public property?

Ask WAVE: Who is responsible for removing graffiti from public property?
Published: Nov. 14, 2022 at 4:53 PM EST
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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WAVE) - Whether you appreciate the artistry or dislike the damage, graffiti is commonplace in Louisville.

That is, it’s common in places it’s not technically allowed to be.

An anonymous viewer submitted this question to Ask WAVE:

“Who is responsible for cleaning the graffiti on traffic signs, bridges, and public property?”

The answer is different for each.

The Kentucky Transportation Cabinet is responsible for the interstate system, including the bridges, signs, and overpasses.

For all other state routes, that is the responsibility of the Louisville Metro, per a deal with KYTC.

Within the metro, graffiti on areas including those state routes and other public property goes to Codes & Regulation and Public Works departments. If the graffiti is in a park, Louisville’s Parks & Recreation department handles it.

Sometimes all of those departments work together on one removal project, a metro representative said.

The metro has two crews that remove graffiti every week. They regularly check areas they know get tagged a lot. Otherwise, they respond to residents’ 311 tips.

For their part, KYTC said they try to clean up graffiti quickly, but the same crews that handle graffiti also handle situations directly related to motorists’ safety. Therefore, if the graffiti is not obscene or creating a safety hazard, its removal likely won’t take priority.

For example, graffiti on the front of an interstate sign, blocking crucial information, will be addressed first. Also, in that case, KYTC officials say they have to replace the entire sign because cleaning it will damage the reflective quality.

KYTC officials also say graffiti is not a victimless crime. In a 2017 survey, American taxpayers spent about $12 billion to remove it.

To submit your question to Ask WAVE, email kathleen.ninke@wave3.com.