July 23, 2019
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You pick the pun: State to let public vote on road sign jokes

State officials are combing through 2,000 contest entries vying to be the next cautionary pun to blink across the humorous highway safety signs that line the Maine interstate.

Voting will begin in early April on finalists’ submissions to the statewide contest “My Maine Sign,” in which the public submitted their ideas to the Department of Transportation.

Since the winter of 2016, the signs have entertained drivers with clever warnings and safety humor. They’ve always been written by DOT officials, who change them every two weeks or so, often with a nod to the nearest holiday (“Santa sees you when you’re speeding”) or major drinking event, like the Superbowl (“87 is Gronk’s number — not the speed limit”).

The submission period closed March 18. To enter, contest hopefuls had to squeeze their funny messages into a few, short sentences that discouraged unsafe behavior, such as distracted or impaired driving, speeding or texting behind the wheel.

After DOT officials pick finalists — likely by the end of the month — the public will vote using the department’s website, DOT spokesman Ted Talbot said.

The winner not only gets his or her suggestion in neon lights but also a custom street sign from the state’s sign shop.

Finalists will also win a number of transportation-related prizes, including a ride to the top of the Penobscot Narrows Bridge & Observatory, tickets on the Maine State Ferry and a state park vehicle pass.

But anyone’s submission may someday get its time to shine — or blink, actually — as the DOT intends to archive the best ideas for future use, Talbot said.

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