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Contractor responds after racial slur found on digital traffic sign

By Eric Miller

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    WAKE COUNTY, North Carolina (WRAL) — Drivers were horrified to see an electronic traffic sign displaying a racial slur on Friday night.

Multiple viewers sent photos of the sign to WRAL News. Some said they called 911 after seeing the sign.

According to the North Carolina Department of Transportation, someone hacked the sign sometime overnight. The sign was located on Optimist Farm Road between Lake Wheeler Road and Ransdell Road.

A woman told WRAL News her “jaw dropped” when she heard what happened. The woman was frustrated, like many others, and left wondering why someone would do this.

This is not the first time people have hacked electronic traffic signs. In 2018, someone tampered with the signs in Raleigh, which displayed vulgar comments about cyclists along the Ironman route on Old U.S. Highway 1.

In 2014, someone tampered with DOT’s digital road sign system and wrote “hacked by Sun Hacker.” The DOT immediately inspected every sign in the state to make sure similar incidents could not happen again.

According to NCDOT, the sign had both a lock and a passcode to prevent someone from changing the message — but they say the sign wasn’t locked and the vandal or vandals breached the passcode.

The spokesperson said the sign belongs to two contractors, Branch Civil and Flatiron, adding the contractors have now “addressed this to ensure this sign and others are secured with both lock and passcode.”

The Flatiron-Branch construction team provided a statement regarding the incident, saying:

“The Flatiron-Branch team is extremely dismayed by the act of vandalism at one of our local construction projects. We regret that area residents experienced this offensive action. We are investigating how this could have happened and are taking steps to prevent it from happening again. Each day, the people of Flatiron and Branch strive to build an inclusive culture and contribute to the well-being of the communities where we live and work.”

The sign was fixed by 6 a.m. on Saturday.

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