WSDOT works with local church to fight graffiti and save taxpayers dollars
This month marks a 5-year anniversary between WSDOT and River Ridge Covenant Church in Lacey working together to erase graffiti and save taxpayers $60,000 over five years in costs related to the cleanup.
“They have saved tax payers and maintenance crews a lot of money and time by being vigilant of this ongoing problem in the community,” said John Davis, Olympic Region maintenance supervisor. “I want to recognize them for their efforts and dedication.”
Six members from the church spend about 50 hours a year painting over graffiti on a 1-mile stretch adjacent to the northbound lanes on I-5 in Lacey. There is a right-of-way fence alongside the bike trail between Lilly Road and Sleater-Kinney that was once riddled with graffiti, and remains a hot spot for taggers.
“We recognize local agencies don’t have the resources to do all of this so we want to get out there and help,” said Pastor Brian Wiele.
This fence was an eyesore for the cities and a headache for the Olympic Region maintenance crew. Before the partnership began, Davis and his crew repainted the fence several times only to find it covered again with graffiti within days. The cost and time burden that was once the responsibility of WSDOT, and ultimately taxpayers, has been relieved since the church’s anti-graffiti team has taken over the task of keeping the fence graffiti free.
Graffiti cleanup costs taxpayers thousands of dollars and with a tight maintenance budget, it becomes a juggling act as to what to work on first. Graffiti removal is an unexpected expenditure so maintenance has to figure out where money can be moved around to pay for this activity. It also takes maintenance crews away from their first priority of maintaining roads for the traveling public.
Davis met with city and county officials and they came up with a way to remove the graffiti at virtually no cost. Church members cover the fence with green paint supplied by Thurston County, and also pick up litter along the bike trail. WSDOT provides the buckets, paint brushes and trash bags as well as a temporary right-of-way permit for the painters.
“It’s nice to have something concrete to do that people appreciate,” said Annie Kendall, a member of the church’s anti-graffiti team. “Even when we’re out there, people who walk the path say thanks.”