And finally… Roadside construction sign urges drivers to ‘Vote Donald Trump’

An official digital freeway sign in Riverside County, California sparked outrage on Christmas evening when its message was switched from a mundane traffic warning to a campaign booster for US Presidential hopeful Donald Trump.

A portable changeable message sign on the $1.4 billion freeway 91 Project in Corona was changed to say “Inland Empire supports Donald Trump. Merry Xmas. Vote Donald Trump”.

The woman in charge of the project sponsor wasn’t amused.

“This isn’t funny,” said Anne Mayer, executive director of the Riverside County Transportation Commission.

A Facebook video of the sign was posted by Nikki Worden of Corona, who with her husband was returning home from the movies Friday night when they saw the sign.

They doubled back and shot video as proof.

Mayer said someone had a pass code to the portable sign, giving them the ability to retype a construction alert. It was not changed remotely, she said.

“It was Christmas night,” she said. “All the crews were off. Those signs are out there not only for the travelling public but also for the safety of construction workers. So this is a serious public-safety issue — regardless of the political message on the sign.”

The reason she doesn’t suspect an off-duty construction worker is because this is where they work, and “someone is not going to place their own lives or co-workers’ lives at risk in order to pull a prank.”

She said the best guess is that the sign cycled through the Trump message for about 12 hours, ending when crews restored the message to an I-15 road closure alert Saturday morning.

Mayer says she’s had about eight media calls — mostly local, but one from Sacramento.

“We impact hundreds of thousands of drivers a day,” she told in a phone interview.

“The most frustrating thing for me is a public-safety sign was hijacked for a prank. So they hijacked public safety. In my book, that’s wrong.”

She said steps would be taken to “make sure someone can’t do this again. We’ll work on different ways to make sure that happens.”

Mayer said it was the first time a message had been changed on her agency’s watch — but had heard of it happening elsewhere.

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