Construction Report: Campaign sign laws in Alaska

Published: Jul. 11, 2022 at 5:51 PM AKDT
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FAIRBANKS, Alaska (KTVF) - In Alaska and around the U.S., campaign signs represent an important part of many candidates’ outreach process. However, in Alaska some areas are off-limits for this kind of advertising.

By law in Alaska, campaign signs cannot be placed in the right-of-way of state roads. “That right-of-way is really that piece of land that goes parallel with the road,” said Danielle Tessen, Public Information Officer with the Alaska Department of Transportation (DOT).

These signs must be more than 660 feet away from the right-of-way’s edge, and may not be visible from the way being traveled, according to DOT. “Typically you see signs that are placed alongside, and really, signs placed within that right-of-way,’ Tessen explained. “They can create safety risks, and so we encourage people not to put signs there. There are Alaska statutes that prohibit putting signs there,”

State roads in the Fairbanks area include the Mitchell and Johansen Expressways, Airport Way and Phillips Field Road. “When we find ourselves in a campaign season, we see an increase in signage,” Tessen continued. “If someone puts their sign somewhere, we typically see another sign going in that same spot, and so those are often on Airport Way, at intersections. But those particular areas, they can block people’s views, they can distract drivers, and really just impair the visibility for folks.”

If a sign is in violation of statute, the department may send a written 30-day notice asking that it be removed.

Tessen said in some cases “we do, as a statewide organization, remove those signs. If there’s a sign that’s seen, you can call the office, and with our limited resources, we do, when available, go out and remove signs.”

The Superior Court in Anchorage, however, ruled in 2018 that signs no larger than 32 square feet can be displayed on private property along these roads, as long as they aren’t in the right-of-way and the owner wasn’t paid to put them up.

Those hoping to learn more about the state’s policy toward campaign signs are encouraged to contact the Department of Transportation.

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