The World’s Most Expensive Road Signs

Drive along Interstate 575 just northwest of Atlanta, Georgia, and you’ll see signs proclaiming proudly that you are driving on a “Project Funded by the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” (”stimulus road project” would sound so prosaic by comparison).  It’s almost like a religious experience — sightings of taxpayer dollars actually at work on projects for we the People who are paying billions for them. 

It does get you thinking.  For example, how much do these signs touting the “American Recovery and Reinvestment Act” cost?  Here in Georgia, we are informed by the state Department of Transportation that each such road project requires not one but four signs (one on each side of the road and at each end point of the project); and that each individual sign costs an average of $1206.  Thus, simply to inform the public that the “stimulus” money taken from us by the federal government is being used for a particular road project, $4824 of that money is spent on each project.  

There are 203 “stimulus” road projects planned or underway just in Georgia, and at $4824 a pop for self-serving road signage, that comes to almost one million dollars — $979,272 to be more precise.  The federal Department of Transportation does not have figures on how many such proclamation signs are in use or planned across the country, but if nearly $1.0 milliion is being spent on them in just one state (Georgia), well, you can do the math.

Is it any wonder that the current fiscal year federal deficit will be in the neighborhood of $1.6 to $1.8 trillion?

52 comments Add your comment

Road Scholar

September 4th, 2009
6:31 am

I have to agree with you Bob on this one. But what about all the signs in Cities, Counties and the state that bear the Mayor’s, Council’s, Commissioner’s, and governor’s names that are at the airport, welcome centers, etc? Every time they get unelected these signs have to be redone to place the names of current legislators on them. Not to mention, any of the signs proclaiming a bridge or portion of roadway after a deseased (most of them are) legislator or activist are mostly unneeded.


September 4th, 2009
6:37 am

Bob, in appreciation of your being on top of this critical issue I am going to try to get the bridge over Pumpkinvine Creek named the “Bob Barr Memorial Bridge”.


September 4th, 2009
7:40 am

I read somewhere that these road signs are made in China and that the whole message can be peeled off to display road signs in MANDARIN CHINESE characters.



September 4th, 2009
7:40 am

Mr. Barr, one thing to think of, outside of the box, is that someone had to take that order for the signs, then someone had to process that transaction, then someone had to design the print, then someone had to manufacture the order, then someone had to deliver the order, and then someone had to install the signs…Though a lot of money is initially spend on the signs, it’s not in vain and shouldn’t be analyzed blindly, as if no human interation was taken in to consideration.

Multiple fellow Americans participated in the creation of the signs, via employment. THAT is more important. THAT facilitated a citizen economically (paycheck, job security, etc.). To simply see the signs as a money waster, as if they magically appeared, is forgetting the men and women who were able to afford life, at least during the sign’s manufacturing.

The metal can be recycled when the projects are done, and then that will provide MORE opportunities for fellow citizens to assume an economic advantage. Mr. Barr, don’t forget to acknowledge details and insight…someone kept or received a job because of this, and THAT is more important.

joe matarotz

September 4th, 2009
8:18 am

Holy cow! Wasteful government spending? I never would have believed it. Thanks for blowing the lid off this one, Bob.

September 4th, 2009
8:21 am

do your part to help end this recession, go to to find out how!


September 4th, 2009
8:37 am

Your point is well taken. But I think the reason for this year’s federal deficit being in the neighborhood of $1.6 to $1.8 trillion is more due to greedy bankers and the Iraq war (not to mention the nearly $1 trillion the gov’t will spend on healthcare this year) than road signs.


September 4th, 2009
8:39 am

Obama is a traitor to the republic of the United States. Liberals have indoctrinations in colleges and now the traitor wants to start molding liberal progressive socialist minds in middle schools. I can not wait for this traitors trial to begin.


September 4th, 2009
8:46 am

Mr. Barr, how many taxpayer dollars did you insist on spending to rename Washington DC’s National airport in honor of Ronald Reagan when you were in Congress? When you live in a glass house, etc.


September 4th, 2009
8:55 am

Wow. I’m actually agreeing with Mrs. Barr for once. And, I just can’t believe that each sign we see on the road costs ~ $1200 to make and install. That is asinine!


September 4th, 2009
8:56 am

Oh, and William….your mother ever tell you that you’re an idiot?

gloom and doomer

September 4th, 2009
8:58 am

A well-informed populace is vital to a democracy.

With that statement in mind, how long will it be before signs are erected that admit “We are soooooo screwed.”?


September 4th, 2009
9:10 am

Where do these signs come from? If they are made in the US (and they had better be), then this “waste” of tax money is in fact creating jobs and stimulating the economy.

And even better stimulus would be to double all of the federal income tax exemptions. Married filing jointly would go from around $10,000 to about $20,000. Singles would go from around $7000 to about $14,000. This money would be spent and would also be a large stimulant to the economy.


September 4th, 2009
9:15 am

I just wish they would have stopped while they were ahead. The market was going to rebound anyway (history not taught in school anymore) and they just want this silly spending spree to take the credit for it. Goverment waste is all over the place, yet there are ways in which they do a few things better, but greed steps in and ruins the party for everyone.

Obama is going to make his mark on our history, just not sure if everyone is going to enjoy it. Ceaser anyone? The Romans were thought to be “to big to fail” in there times as well, how did that turn out?

We need to take our government back and stop all this crazyness.


September 4th, 2009
9:15 am

Millions for signs may be a drop in the bucket, but think of all the other sources of “drops” and you see why federal spending is completely out of control. We can’t spend our way to prosperity at the family level by running up more credit card debt, so what makes us think the government can spend it’s way to prosperity by borrowing more megabucks from China?

Hillbilly Deluxe

September 4th, 2009
9:20 am

Well, looking on the bright side, sign painters gotta eat too.

I would be curious to know if the signs are U.S. made. Maybe some journalist could check that out?


September 4th, 2009
9:30 am

Caveman: your analysis is incorrect. Right now, people are saving, not spending, so any tax break would get put in the bank and not into purchasing stuff (which moves the money around the economy). Normally, saving is good, because banks then can turn around and lend that saved money to companies (which moves around the economy). But banks aren’t lending so much right now. Money just isn’t moving so much on its own.

[ GDP, by the way, is a measure of money moving through the economy. If it's not moving fast enough, GDP falls and we're in a recession or worse. If it moves too fast, we have inflation (too much money chasing things to fast). ]

So the government is all that’s left to get the economy moving. Sad outcome and would prefer it not to be true, but it is true all the same.

And the people above who are saying that these signs are driving employment are correct. Signs don’t just appear out of nowhere.

just thinking...

September 4th, 2009
9:42 am

This was news a month ago, thanks Bob

I doubt It

September 4th, 2009
9:58 am

Kevster, It’s called make work and it serves no useful purpose other than the govt paying someone to do something that’s not needed. Sorta like in Cool Hand Luke… “What’s your dirt doing in the boss’ ditch?”


September 4th, 2009
10:00 am

Splavistic, no but your mother screams my name sometimes! Burn.


September 4th, 2009
10:05 am

Kevster – No, you’re not smart and informed. You’re an indoctrinated lackey. Maybe we should go around breaking windows so they can be repaired and put people to work. But that money for window repairs can no longer buy a suit. Google Frédéric Bastiat or Henry Hazlitt and get a clue.

ByteMe – your liquidity trap Keynesian mumbo jumbo is a load of crap. What you really endorse is central planning as if a few suits inside the beltway are so prescient and wise as to determine exactly which buttons to push and which levers to pull. Take that communist clap trap to Venezuela. That crap has a short shelf life here. Think you’re all that and you aint about shat. People like yourself who are threatening individual choice and self-determination are playing with fire.


September 4th, 2009
10:11 am

Movement of money through the system is called the “velocity of money” not GDP, you idiot. GDP is a measure of the nation’s total total output of goods and services.

Why don’t you just go away before you spread more lies and propaganda – you have no idea. Freaking unbelievable how stupid you authoritarian, boot-licking “intellectuals” are.


September 4th, 2009
10:30 am

Stan, you need to take more fiber…just sayin’

Salvatore Giuseppe

September 4th, 2009
10:47 am

For all those arguing that these signs have given people employment…I can’t imagine that sign making employs all that many people, and transportation and installation probably involved a maximum of one driver and one installer per site(every 4 signs).

That hardly gets a return on investment, considering that once the signs are made, there’s nothing more for the makers to do, once they’re installed there’s nothing more for the driver or installer to do, meaning that those people go back to the unemployment stats, having made very little impact on the economy


September 4th, 2009
11:27 am

We couldn’t have elected a liberal big spender at a worse time. Bush certainly was a big contributor to our mess, but the democrats have piled on to the mess. We need a fiscal conservative as our leader right now and Obama is about as far from that as you can get. All he can think about are more big government programs. The democrats answer to our continuing failing economy will be another massive government spending spree. We need tax cuts and incentives for private business to be created, expanded and grow. Biden says the stimulus is working better than they could ever have imagined? How stupid and gullible do they think we are?


September 4th, 2009
11:31 am

They should just put up blackboards so that the messages on the highways and the airport can be changed at will – chalk is cheap.


September 4th, 2009
12:08 pm

Actually you should look at this as the “Cash for Signmakers” program, something like the case for clunkers. I would like someone to explain the numbers on the Cash for Clunkers. Please do the math on exactly how many cars were turned in versus the $3billion that was allotted for the program. There is a sinkhole somewhere with lots of money going down it that never made it to the intended destination!


September 4th, 2009
12:13 pm

Come on Bob! This kind of petty whining makes you sound like one of the really worthless Republicans like Saxby. You are usually so much better than this. No one seriously believes that the signs are the problem. Is the one you see coming out of the airport saying Welcome to Atlanta with the Mayor’s name on it the problem with Atlanta. How about the one on the interstate coming into Georgia that mentions the Olympics and the Braves World Series win. Maybe your prostate is bothering you today.


September 4th, 2009
12:37 pm

Yes, Roadie, you are bothering me today.

Joel Dockery

September 4th, 2009
12:39 pm

Thanks for an enlightening column, Mr. Barr.
And to that reader who claims that it is good to have these signs because of all the jobs they create…how about I take ALL your money, and burn it, and we will consider it a good thing because of the lowered inflation and the government workers who will get paid to print more money. Heck, if we burn it in a forest we can hire firefighters to put out the fire! Wow, that would really boost the economy.


September 4th, 2009
12:52 pm

Folks, government waste abounds be it federal, state, counties or cities/towns. It is time we put a stop to all this waste. Thank you, Bob Barr a great American, for this information.


September 4th, 2009
1:11 pm

Stan, take your bile and maybe bundle it and sell it to someone who cares. Then use that money for a reading comprehension course. Then maybe come back and talk to me like someone who anyone would care about.


September 4th, 2009
2:43 pm

Byte Me
You should read Stans post more carefully and learn something about economics.


September 4th, 2009
3:56 pm

Stan @ 10:11am, I feel so much more safe and secure that such a knowledgeable person like yourself are around to inform the rest of us slugs how stupid and worthless we are. I am thanking you from the bottom of my heart. I think I’ll take your advice and go away somewhere, might you have a suggestion?

George P Burdell

September 4th, 2009
4:15 pm

Why couldn’t they have gone down to the local quickie signs store and got some of those temporary signs like the one that advertise “work at home” or “yard sale”? Put some money directly back into the local economy and saved a bunch of tax dollars.
I also agree with the earlier post about self-serving politicians. Like elevator inspection certificates having some polticos picture on it. How egotistical!

Dave Bates

September 4th, 2009
4:19 pm

Mr Barr:

Here in our town of Waldport Oregon (on the coast at the mouth of the Alsea River we have a public road named Darkey Creek Rd that runs south off of hwy 34. Several years back some concerned citizens from out of town spotted it and went to work on changing this terribly racially charged bit of local Americana to a more suitably named road and it became some boring noun that I cannot remember even now. As it turns out, that road got its name from 2 generations of local citizens named (you guessed it) Darkey. To this day I do not know if they were black or white! After a year or so of this silliness the name was changed back at the demand/request of the Darkey family survivors. Isn’t this just the typical liberal claptrap we have come to expect? Oregon used to be a state full of hard working loggers, fishermen, mill workers, et., you know, real men. Now it might as well be annexed by northern (californicate) California. Oregon is now a state where around half the population works in a city/ or county/state government job. A further 20% are retired, and the rest are artistes or manufacture and use Crystal Meth and/or grow marijuana….. I used to love it here but I cannot stand being surrounded by idiots and those who expect everything to be given to them for free by the govt..

George P Burdell

September 4th, 2009
4:21 pm

Something to consider…are those signs produced by a contractor or vendor for the GADOT or do they make them in one of the GADOT sign shops? If they’re produced internally, then the only expenses are labor and materials. That type is labor is probably a relatively fixed cost, so the only money flowing out of GADOT is for materials which means somebody like 3M is seeing a slight increase in sales of reflective materials and some sheet metal plant is getting a few new orders. But no jobs are being created.

[...] Bar Code [...]


September 4th, 2009
4:57 pm

William, hmmmm. My mother is a lesbian. What are you doing hanging out with lesbians? Are you a Dick van Dyke? It’s sorta like a fag hag, ‘cept switched.


September 4th, 2009
5:31 pm

Road sign companies are part of the economy too. Ultimately, someone is still getting economic activity that they would not have otherwise gotten. Some small business is making more sales this month because of it.

Since the purpose was economic stimulus, it’s not necessarily money wasted.


September 4th, 2009
5:34 pm

It’s a sign of the times.

Kenneth Shue

September 4th, 2009
6:08 pm

bob you’re way off.Go to florida and retire.Play golf, enjoy the times when family visit and just shut up.I’m in contruction as an electrician,the price for those signs is about right assuming,illegal aliens are doing the labor.Can you imagine the price of that sign would be if I did it.And I’m unemployed!


September 4th, 2009
6:16 pm

Mr. Barr: I hope you can live with yourself these days, as you and your ilk have not finetuned racism and hatred to the ultimate. You should be, but won’t be, ashamed, because all this stuff about Obama is race based. How can you hate so much? What in the world is wrong in your life that you will do and say anything to hurt Obama in the White House? It unfortunately is true: Georgians are crackers.


September 4th, 2009
6:21 pm

I always wondered how much the signs which are posted at EVERY Interstate entrance ramp “Eisenhower Interstate System” cost in total.


September 4th, 2009
7:11 pm

An owner of a winery near Burlington, NC wanted a sign for his business on I-40/I-85, but NCDOT charges $30,000 for one sign. Of course signage is top-notch up there but that’s a lot of dough…


September 4th, 2009
8:05 pm



September 4th, 2009
9:09 pm

Obviously there’s still enough money to fund private sector jobs like smug reporter or perhaps douchebag political commentator, but other proffessions aren’t as lucky. Signs, while a hilariously easy way to point fingers at spending of dollars, is hardly the issue. Besides that, at least someone out there was making money on the sign. The steel doesn’t melt itself and make sheets out of itself. It doesn’t cut itself or ship itself to the sign maker. It didn’t paint itself. The paint wasn’t formulated and produced by itself either. I could go on and on about how much industry goes into a steel sign, but you get the point I hope.

So, how about you take a breather and save some taxpayer money that is used to prop up the internet or the power lines or perhaps even the road way those lines are strung along. This recession is real, and whomever or whatever caused it is irrelevant. Democrats and Republicans are not at fault. It wasn’t one president or that congress, it was 20 years or more of idiots and morons running a country and letting greedy SOB’s rob, cheat, and steal our money in the name of the rich getting richer on the middle class’ back while the poor are simply there to remind us to wake up and get to those jobs. At least this sign and the cost to make it and hang it on a road in this country is something that possibly benefited me or another American in some way. That can’t be said for the war in Iraq. Go report on that if you want to talk about wasted money. Stop hating freedom and signs.

Reform Will Happen

September 5th, 2009
1:56 pm

You can’t have road signs big enough for big man former US Attorney, and serial liar Chris Christey. The Repubo candidate for NJ Governor was caught lying about a law suit after turning the wrong way down a one way street, fixing the ticket by intimidating a police officer with his US Attorneyness, striking a mortorcyclist and sending him to the hospital. Christy paid off the motorcyclyst who entered into a settlement with Christie..

Mrs. Norris

September 6th, 2009
2:04 am

Ah yes, the government, masters at wasting money. I’m glad you brought this up. There are a lot of road projects in my county that have the sign “Paid for by S.P.L.O.S.T”. I often think to myself, “yes, I know that. How much did you spend on this unnecessary and ugly sign?” The sign should say, “This Unnecessary sign paid for by your S.P.L.O.S.T. dollars.”

On another note, who would have thought an article on the merits, or lack thereof, of road signs would generate so much anger?


September 6th, 2009
1:19 pm

Why can’t the prisoners make the signs when they make the license plates? Wouldn’t that save some $?