The Post and Courier (Charleston, SC)
October 11, 2004 Monday FINAL Edition


JESSICA VANEGEREN Of The Post and Courier Staff

With elections less than a month away, overpasses in nearly half the states across the country will become mounting spots for political messages Wednesday.

In a form of behavior that gives new meaning to the term "information highway," political activists in 100 cities across the country will garnish freeway overpasses with signs critical of the war in Iraq and President Bush. The campaign is the first National Freeway Free Speech Day: Driving America to Think.

The National Freeway Free Speech Day will not have any organized activities in South Carolina. But South Carolina is not a swing state.

Drivers in places such as Wisconsin, Iowa, Ohio, Minnesota and right above us in North Carolina, however, should expect to see banners flying from interstate overpasses by midweek.

Regardless of your political views, one has to wonder if highways can be used as sounding boards for political messages. Would tearing down the signs violate someone's right to free speech?

The movement's organizer, a man known only as the Freeway Blogger, has spent a lot of time posting signs in California. According to an August article in The Sacramento Bee, the Freeway Blogger has hung more than 2,000 protest signs along the state's freeways during the past year.

Judges have ruled a highway overpass is not a protected public forum for free speech.

  In the same article, the Blogger told the reporter he has chosen to hang signs on highways rather than use the media because freeways are this society's town squares.

The article quoted the Blogger as saying: "For better or for worse, that's where all the people are. You get a hundred people a minute, at least. There is no other venue where you can get that kind of exposure."

HARBOR VIEW ROAD: The Charleston County Transportation Committee meets at 11 a.m. Tuesday in Room 225B, Charleston County Public Services Building, 4045 Bridge View Drive.

One of the meeting's topics will focus on traffic problems on Harbor View Road. Last month, a number of residents and Charleston City Councilman Bob George addressed committee members about the problems occurring on the road, especially its intersections with North Shore, Quail and Fort Sumter drives.

Though the parties disagreed on how the traffic problems needed to be fixed, all agreed it is time for someone to take a look at the problems and develop a solution.

Residents again will have time to comment during Tuesday's meeting.

Jessica Vanegeren covers traffic and transportation. Contact her at jvanegeren@postandcourier. com or (843) 937-5562.