Contractor Awarded $4 Million for Graffiti Cleanup Awaits Governor’s Signature on Bill

Portland Graffiti Removal owner Robert Barrie says he’ll clear the backlog of work in three months, tops.

NO DIRECTION: A freeway sign covered in graffiti. (Chris Nesseth)

The Oregon Department of Transportation has picked a contractor to paint over graffiti along state and federal highways, using $4 million allocated by the Legislature in the session that ended March 7.

But the winner, Portland Graffiti Removal LLC, can’t get started because Gov. Tina Kotek, who pushed for the funding as part of her plan to revive Portland, hasn’t signed the bill.

At a meeting for interested bidders March 13, ODOT distributed an agenda saying the work “shall begin no later than April 1, 2024, and the required contract completion date will be June 30, 2025.”

Kotek spokeswoman Elisabeth Shepard says the date on the agenda was incorrect and the governor has until April 17 to sign the bill.

Robert Barrie, owner of Portland Graffiti Removal, says he’s ready to start covering tags in “ODOT gray” paint, the agency’s preferred fix. Barrie says he got a smaller contract from the department in February 2022 and rolled trucks until April of last year, when ODOT ran out of money for graffiti.

“That’s why the freeways look the way they do,” Barrie says. This job is much bigger, but Barrie says he’s got four trucks sitting idle since the cash crunch that he will put back in service. He plans to hire new employees as well.

“I’ve got family members who want to get weekend work,” he says. “We’ll have all this backlog stuff done in two and a half months, maybe three.”

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