Mar 22, 2024 - News

Graffiti cleanup along Portland highways on its way

Graffiti is seen along a highway.

Graffiti seen along Interstate 5 near the Rosa Parks Way exit. Photo: Meira Gebel/Axios

Expect to see crews painting over graffiti and replacing vandalized highway signs along Portland's main transportation arteries in the coming weeks.

Driving the news: Earlier this month, the Legislature approved an additional $20 million bump in the Oregon Department of Transportation's budget to address graffiti, litter and homeless camp cleanup in the tri-county area — an initiative put forth by Gov. Tina Kotek's downtown task force.

  • Once the governor signs the bill, ODOT will begin issuing contracts to hire private companies to do the work.

What they're saying: "Sometime in April we'll begin to see crews working on this," Don Hamilton, a spokesperson for the transportation agency, told Axios. "Will we see a difference? Yes, but it won't put an end to this problem."

Context: Graffiti along Portland's main arteries has only worsened since ODOT ran out of dedicated funds to remove and prevent vandalism from the city's highways last summer.

  • Addressing shortfalls in ODOT's budget — which has taken a significant hit since revenue from the state's gas tax has dropped — will be a priority for lawmakers in next year's session, Hamilton said.

By the numbers: Of the $20 million allocated, $4 million will be dedicated solely to painting over graffiti and replacing illegible, vandalized highway signs.

  • Another $4 million will be dedicated to homeless camp cleanup, an additional $4 million for litter and the rest will be used to install barriers under bridges, near retaining walls and along bike lanes to deter camping and RV parking.
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