Graffiti costs taxpayers thousands, TDOT says - WKRN News 2

Graffiti costs taxpayers thousands, TDOT says

Posted: Updated: Sep 19, 2012 05:16 PM

The state of Tennessee spends thousands of dollars a month to clean up after people.

Graffiti is a constant problem for TDOT, and it's a problem crews battle twice a week all over Middle Tennessee.

"Weekends are bad and Monday mornings are bad," said Burel Tidwell, TDOT district maintenance superintendent for Davidson and Williamson counties

"The graffiti is a problem," added Beth Emmons, a spokesperson for TDOT, "It's an inconvenience, it's an eye sore and it's very expensive."

Emmons told Nashville's News 2 from September 2011 until June 2012, TDOT has spent about $48,000 on graffiti removal.

"You do the math," said Emmons, "That's like $5,000 a month, and that doesn't include the five or six extra people you might need to include to shut down a lane one day to clean up the graffiti on the interstate."

Tidwell said a large part of the cost is the paint, because they have to custom mix colors to match the area they are fixing.

Tagging isn't just limited to sound barriers or under passes; crews have to physically scrub signs clean that hang over the interstates.

"It's very frustrating," said Emmons, "Because it's taxpayer dollars that could be spent better on fixing the roads and things like that."

By painting over graffiti as soon as it pops up, TDOT hopes to discourage people from doing it in the first place.

"You should respect the neighborhood and the community," Emmons told Nashville's News 2, "If people would just think about that, it'd be money well spent somewhere else."

TDOT told Nashville's News 2 in the past police have been successful arresting serial taggers.

In some cases, the vandals have even been asked to pay back the state for the cost of cleanup.

Vandalizing TDOT property with graffiti is a misdemeanor; the penalty depends on how much it costs to fix it.

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