A lighted sign flashed a vulgar message on a North Carolina highway on Thursday before state Department of Transportation workers were able to shut down the sign.
The sign on US 421 near Winston-Salem alternated between the statements “F*** JOE BIDEN” and “VOTE TRUMP 2024,” according to a driver who said he saw the sign.
Pat Ivey, the North Carolina Department of Transportation’s division engineer, confirmed the content of the messages on Friday.
“It doesn’t belong to us,” Ivey said of the panel. “It belongs to a traffic control contractor. We found out about it yesterday afternoon. Our forces went there and were able to deactivate 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 to the state.
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“We’ve had multiple calls and emails from people who have seen it,” Ivey said. “We went out immediately to see what was going on. We spoke to the contractor, who is investigating himself to find out who programmed the message in there, or if it was just some kind of sabotage. This happened all over the state – we had people hacking into these systems and spreading obscene messages.
Ivey said road workers found the sign unlocked when they went to check it, leaving open the possibility that someone who knew what to do had just walked in and set the messages.
“It’s possible this is a hacking job,” Ivey said. “Usually you have to actually step into those older signs. My understanding is that they are generally locked.