PORTLAND, Oregon — The Oregon Department of Transportation has awarded $2 million in contracts to Rapid Response Bio Clean and Portland Graffiti Removal to clean up graffiti and litter. The agency hopes the two companies will be able keep up with the pace of calls for cleanups on Portland area freeways.
The fastest way to report graffiti on the freeway system is to call 888-ASK-ODOT, according to agency spokesman Don Hamilton.
"We can usually get to a problem area within a day or two to assess for repairs," he said.
Assessing it is just the first step; after that comes the cleanup. In some cases that can include a full replacement of a sign if it was damaged badly enough or was in line to be replaced soon anyway. ODOT maintenance crews are currently facing backorder on materials for signs.
"All of these green freeway signs are on a (replacement) schedule, every 12 to 15 years, because their reflective properties diminish over time," Hamilton said.
Newer signs come with fresh anti-graffiti treatments, making them easier to clean. But that by itself doesn’t stop the problem.
“This is an increasing problem” Hamilton said. When asked if anyone is being caught, he replied "That’s a good question for police."
Last August, someone spray painted the top deck of the Fremont Bridge, which carries Interstate 405 southbound across the Willamette River. ODOT said it cost more than $11,000 to clean up.
Portland police said that case is still open, but admitted that graffiti is not something the agency can prioritize right now due to record staffing lows.
Chris McGinness is a meteorologist and transportation reporter for KGW. Got a story idea or a great photo you want to share? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or reach out on Facebook , Twitter and Instagram
Correction: A previous version of this article included an incorrect phone number reported by ODOT for people to report graffiti on the freeway system. The article has been corrected to include the correct phone number (888-ASK-ODOT).