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About Us
Organization
The sign program is a part of the Right of Way section within the Highway Division of the Department of Transportation. We have two full time employees, and part-time employees. We call upon staff in the field who, in addition to their usual duties, perform surveillance and site checks for signs along Oregon’s highways. 
  
 

Duties
The Department, through the sign program, is responsible for administering the regulation of signs on private property that are visible to state highways.  Private signs in state highway right of way are prohibited, but removal generally is handled by local ODOT Maintenance offices.
 
Our goals are to carry out the Legislature’s policy of beautifying Oregon’s highways and promoting motorist safety through the control of signs, to assist citizens in meeting their sign needs while complying with the law, and to meet the requirements of the Federal Highway Administration to maintain Oregon’s federal highway funding. 
  
 

Overview
In the 1950s, the state and federal governments were investing billions of dollars in the interstate and state highway systems.  They wanted to protect the citizens’ asset by ensuring that the roads did not become cluttered with signs, especially in rural and other scenic areas. The first federal laws allowed for voluntary compliance, and Oregon elected to participate starting in 1961. By agreeing to specific regulations for signs along the interstates, Oregon was awarded additional federal money on its interstate highway projects.
 
In 1965, Congress passed the Highway Beautification Act, championed by the President’s wife, Lady Bird Johnson. This law required the states to “effectively control” signs along interstates and most state highways, or risk losing 10% of annual highway funding. Oregon passed laws to carry out the federal law and added further regulation to preserve our state’s unique beauty.  
 
In 2006 the Oregon Supreme Court ruled that our sign permit requirement violated the state’s constitutional guarantee of free expression. Therefore the 2007 Legislature revamped the laws to correct that problem while still maintaining Oregon’s scenic assets and full federal funding. 
 
Today we regulate 8,000 miles of highway, have approximately 1,750 active sign permits, and help to maintain Oregon’s beauty, as well as secure $25 - $30 million per year in continued federal highway funding.  The sign program supports itself through assessment of permit fees.