A lighted sign flashed a vulgar message in Winston-Salem on Thursday before workers with the N.C. Department of Transportation were able to shut down the sign.
The sign on Salem Parkway alternated between the statements, “F*** JOE BIDEN,” and “VOTE TRUMP 2024,” according to a driver who reported seeing the sign.
Pat Ivey, the division engineer for the N.C. Department of Transportation, on Friday confirmed the content of the messages.
“It does not belong to us,” Ivey said of the sign. “It belongs to a traffic control subcontractor. We became aware of it yesterday afternoon. Our forces went out there and were able to disable the sign immediately.”
Ivey said the sign is owned by Stay Alert Safety Services LLC in Kernersville, which is investigating how the message ended up on the sign and will report its findings back to the state.
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“We have gotten several calls and email from people that saw it,” Ivey said. “We went out immediately to see what was going on. We have spoken to the subcontractor, who is investigating it themselves to find out who programmed the message in there, or whether it was just a sabotage sort of thing. This has happened all across the state — we have had people hack into these systems and put out obscene messages.”
Ivey said that highway workers found the sign unlocked when they went to check on it, leaving open the possibility that someone who knew what to do simply made entry and set the messages.
“It is possible it is a hacking job,” Ivey said. “Usually, you have to actually get into these older signs. My understanding is that they are typically locked.”
Ivey described Stay Alert as a subcontractor for APAC-Atlantic, which is doing a stream relocation project in the area as part of work for the Winston-Salem Northern Beltway.