WRAL Investigates

Tax money spent to advertise stimulus projects

Posted December 22, 2009

— The state Department of Transportation has spent $135,000 in taxpayer funds to install signs touting road projects paid for with more than $800 million in federal stimulus money.

Signs like one on the Fayetteville loop highway construction project near Fort Bragg aren't directional and don't point drivers to any construction detours. They simply note that the particular project was "funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act."

Stimulus road sign DOT defends stimulus road signs

"If we couldn't laugh, we would be crying," said Ronnie Tart, who owns a used car dealership down the road from the Fayetteville highway project.

Tart said he has waited for years for the project to start, but he said he can't believe tax dollars are being used to remind him how his tax dollars are being used.

"That's almost a slap in the face to say, 'Here's only a little bit of how badly we've spent your money, but we want to remind you,'" he said.

The federal money the DOT is using to erect 54 signs across the state – each costs about $2,500 – doesn't come from the economic stimulus package. It's discretionary money the state could have used on road construction or maintenance.

"It irritates me," said Wes Lewis, who drives by one of the signs almost daily. "I think the money could be better spent somewhere else. They could use it on the road. If they want to let everybody know, they could put it in the paper what they're using the money for instead of spending so much on signs."

DOT Traffic Engineer Kevin Lacy argued that the stimulus projects are important investments, and educating people on where their money is going is a valid expense.

"I do understand their position. I don't necessarily agree with it, but I do understand it," Lacy said of the sign critics.

The U.S. Department of Transportation encourages all states to install the signs, he said, adding that North Carolina will recycle its 54 signs once the stimulus projects they advertise are completed.

Lacy also pointed out that the company that made the signs benefited, which is what the stimulus projects are designed to do.

"We're in unusual times, and (we're) letting people know there is an effort going on that helps people get back to work," he said. "It was important."


This story is closed for comments.

Oldest First
View all
  • dearslayer2 Dec 30, 2009

    What the picture should have looked like was about 15 people standing around smoking, chating, ect and 1 person working if we are lucky. It amazes me how often I pass them "working" and they are just standing there collecting a check.

  • cary1969 Dec 23, 2009

    wow..some people love to complain on just about anything

  • jet2rdu Dec 23, 2009

    How about another $2500 American Recovery And Reinvestment Act sign outside the company making the stimulus signs stating :

    “ This company received American Recovery And Reinvestment Act Money to Build Signs to tout state projects that received American Recovery And Reinvestment Act's money”

    The sign business could lead us to a big recovery if this is carried out to the Nth degree.

  • keiott Dec 23, 2009

    They don't make signs to let us know how they spent the rest of our tax dollars, why make these?

  • plumbersfriend55 Dec 23, 2009

    This expenditure is beyond comprehension. In a tight economy when people are already taxed beyond belief and budgets are being slashed to the bone, how could the gov't dare think to do such a thing? Take note all: our best chance to combat this insanity is the next congressional/senate elections. It makes a big difference whose sitting in Congress. Just look at the health care reform vote! We better take action to take this country back.

  • JustOneGodLessThanU Dec 23, 2009

    jasonicholas23,thanks for that nice post. Yes, we libs do try to be progressive & open-minded. Thanks. :-)

    Meanwhile, imback has posted 3 comments, all slamming other people and thereby not contributing anything positive to the discussion… except to point out that my posts represent my posts. LOL

  • Just the facts mam Dec 23, 2009

    We have nothing to fear, but our federal government!

  • I guess I will just type this Dec 23, 2009

    such a tool...

  • I guess I will just type this Dec 23, 2009

    whatelseisnew, you're such a dingleberry cleaner...
    those 2 terms are what's known to educated folks as "antonyms" or "opposite" the TRUE definition of "liberal."

  • ncguy71 Dec 23, 2009

    Title should read - "Tax money stolen from our children, grandchildren and great grandchildren used to advertise stimulus projects"