Blame the weather for large amount of graffiti

Andrea Clifford
Andrea Clifford

Louisville, KY - By Janelle MacDonald - bio | email

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) - Chances are you've seen some of it -- graffiti popping up on our local interstates.

A WAVE 3 viewer sure did. "Bill" called our newsroom a couple of times to alert us to it.  He couldn't figure out how the vandals did it.

"We've never seen anyone in action," says Department of Highways spokeswoman Andrea Clifford.

It's easy to see the work of graffiti vandals and it just seems to appear out of nowhere. Right now it's decorating a lot of the Cochran Hill Tunnel along Interstate 64 eastbound in Louisville as well as several bridges and overpasses along Kentuckiana interstates.

"It is very frustrating," Clifford said.

Clifford says if the graffiti is on state right-of-way, it's the state's job to clean it up, but so far it hasn't been able to because that crew has other jobs too.

"Our structures crew also serve double duty during snow and ice," said Clifford. "Many of them have their CDLs so we put them in trucks to go out and clear roadways."

On non-snow days, that same crew is responsible for fixing bridge decking, barrier walls and guardrails. Clifford also says graffiti vandals put up their artwork faster than crews can cover it up.

"They go out there, they paint over and just within days sometimes it could be painted again," she said.

A search of the internet reveals sites that teach you how to tag like a pro as well as sites where you can post, vote and earn points for the best graffiti in cities all over the place, including Louisville.

Several years ago, in 2006 and 2007, the Metro even gave local graffiti artists a wall to legally practice their craft, but then had to paint over it after someone painted obscene messages on the wall and nearby businesses.

So now it's back to pop up graffiti along local roadways, leaving cleanup crews plenty of work to do.

"When we do get some warm, dry days, they have a lot of work to catch up on," said Clifford.

She points out that tagging is not only dangerous for the vandal, who may have to get themselves in a precarious position to do their work, but also for drivers, who may miss road signs and information that is covered by paint.

Clifford says she knows Louisville Metro Police have caught graffiti artists and charged them.  A police spokesman says it's hard to track how many, because the charge would be criminal mischief, which covers a lot of different crimes, not just vandalism.

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