ST. PAUL, Minn. (WCCO) — Some graffiti artists are making state property their canvas, and it could cause problems for drivers.

Several overhead signs on state highways have been tagged. One along westbound Interstate 94 at the Marion Street exit has so much paint on it, drivers can barely make out the words behind it.

In 2014, the Minnesota Department of Transportation says there were 583 tags on their property, which can range from spray paint on concrete overpasses to signs. It’s jumped every year since then, topping out at 874 tags last year.

“As a motorist going 55-60 miles per hour, you may make a quick lane change, you may miss your exit, you may hit your brake. I mean it’s not safe at all for people when there is graffiti on these signs, so we take it very seriously,” said Kevin Walker, communications and engagement director for MnDOT.

Walker says the increase in tagging is partly due their new online system that makes reporting graffiti easier.

If a sign can’t be cleaned of the paint, it has to be replaced. Walker said newer signs are being made with a protective 3M film. He said it makes cleaning off the paint easier.

A person caught tagging the signs faces a potential fine, payment to replace the sign if necessary and a court appearance.

Jeff Wagner