BOSTON (CBS) — In this already-taxing winter another expense is adding up. Highway signs — paid for with tax dollars — are being destroyed by state-hired plow drivers.

Steve in Newburyport Declared his Curiosity asking, “Who pays to replace all those new signs?”

Turns out taxpayers do.

The state spent $1.7 million in federal funds to put highway markers every two-tenths of a mile, but now many of those signs are laying flat in snow banks, pushed over by plows.

WBZ-TV’s David Wade reports.

“If you are ever broken down they need to know where you are at. Those mile markers are important,” said Eric Pupak.

Luisa Paiewonsky, the state’s highway administrator, says in a typical year the state has to replace 2,000 to 3,000 damaged highway signs at a cost of $600,000.

She says this year will be much more, potentially up to $900,000.

Paiewonsky says although the state hires private contractors to plow the roads, it has never gone after one of those drivers for knocking down a sign.

Comments (21)
  1. emom says:

    WAIT WHAT???????, really now,, ok mr hack on the hill needs to really get off his gold horse and truely listen to what he says,,,, He takes our money spends our money and then takes more ,,, WHAT THE HELL DO WE GET FOR OUR MONEY,,, First of alll make each and every contracted plow driver pay for ever one of those signs… I mean they broke them its their fault , NOT MINE..OH and dont tell me they dont know who did it they know exactly who they hired to plow ,,, make them all pay,, spread the cost amongst all of the plow drivers,,,He must be smocking the whacky tobbaco,, cause he is halusinating big time

    1. gerv says:

      Bravo. the snow plow operators on each section of our roads should bear the replacement costs. Construction Managers always share the cost of cleanup on construction sites with the subcontractors proportionally according to how much work they performed in the area and on the site. Kudos to “emom”

  2. Cynic says:

    Very few people know that they are there but the mile markers are very important. Often on the Interstate many people really don’t know what town they are in. If there is an accident and you call in “I-95 Northbound at the 79.2 Mile Marker the Emergency people know exactly where you are. When I am on the interstate or any major highway I always make a mental note of the Markers just in case.Everyone should.

    1. markthefoamguy says:

      If you’re calling from the highway there’s about a 90% chance that your phone has GPS. The mile markers aren’t THAT necessary. But I agree – the contractor knocks them down, the contractor should replace them.

  3. Joe says:

    For years the mile markers were seen on the left side of the hi-way. They know most of the snow gets plowed left to right What were they thinking when they installed them on the right. Wiked Smaht idea….

  4. blackbear1 says:

    When I was a Teacher, if a student damaged school property they/parents were responsible. Same if citizens damage a town sign, fire hyrant, etc. Same should be true for private snow plows. If it is difficult to to determine who actually damage a sign, at the end of the snow season, deduct a determined amount from each operator. Cost of doing busines. $600,000 – $900,000 is too much for taxpayers, not fair.

  5. Angie says:

    why not offer to resell damaged signs to the general public. Some people may like to collect them for their family rooms.

    1. alanonthego says:

      That’s a GREAT idea. Even if we only got $10 a piece it would off set some of the cost.

    2. Holly says:

      Why not hammer them out and put them back up??? It’s bad enough that they spent a butt load of money to put them up, now they want to spend more to replace them??? What a waste!! $$ could be going to the schools, fire departments, or police!

  6. Too Much says:

    plows have to deal with cars all in a big rush making it more difficult to do their job. then you people complain about road conditions and its not wide enough
    then the plows will stay away from signs, see how you like the narrow roads then. it is the State that directs the plows to PUSH BACK
    did you ever consider they are out there in white-out conditions and long hours with-out sleep, lets see how you do!!
    I do agree it was dumb to put them on the right side of the road where all the snow goes

    1. Cynic says:

      They don’t plow BOTH sides of theroad?

  7. Bob Humphreys says:

    If the signs were properly placed, the plows would not be able to hit them. Don’t blame the contractors for the mistakes of the sign installers. When the signs are replaced, move them back away from the area that needs to be plowed.

    1. blackbear1 says:

      Bob, you and Too Much have lost sight of the original question. Why should the taxpayers be footing this bill. Just distribute it evenly amongst all the contractors. If the administrator of this dept. says they have never charged contractors before, well what are you waiting for? Do It!!

    2. Cynic says:

      I think the Federal Govt. Dictates the location of the Signs.

  8. alex says:

    at least its town money thats used to pay for my sidewalk lawn getting replaced every year when the plow digs it all up…. the federal government has enough to do.

  9. WesWelkerFan says:

    Make the plow drivers pay for what they destroy! They are paid to plow, not knock down signs. We shouldn’t have to pay for their mistake.

  10. Simon says:

    Either state plows knock over the signs or state contracted plows knock over the signs. It’s going to happen either way. Good luck holding contractors accountable.

    So, let’s get rid of the signs? Then drivers in crashes who aren’t located quickly enough (down to .2 mi) will sue the state for inadequate markings.

    Let’s face the fact that we live in new england, we want our roads clear, and that leads to some collateral damage. $600k out of a $60 BILLION Mass snow removal budget sounds VERY reasonable.

  11. Colleen says:

    If you do the math it means the average sign or mile marker is $200 and they don’t even last 1 winter season! Something is wrong with this picture? I am sure for $200/marker there is somebody out there who can do a better job! We are being ripped off.

  12. Fitch Resident says:

    As someone who plows for the state it is infuriating to read comments from people who have no clue. The plows dont hit the signs, it is the snow being pushed off the road that hits the signs and knocks them over. If we didnt push the snow all the way off the road then these same people would complain that the highway is too narrow and unsafe. It is a no win situation for the plowing contractors. These people complaining about replacing the sign and saying we should pay for it are probably the same ones that weave in and out of the plows and cut us off during the storms! By the way a supervisor from the state follows us during the storm making sure we are pushing the snow all the way off the road, so we are just doing what we are told!

  13. taxedout says:

    I never would have guessed!!!!! Call your rep or senator and complain… Remember though they are only there a couple of hours a week!!!!

  14. taxedout says:

    Maybe they could put them on Springs????

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