Update: SDOT fixes ‘hacked’ West Seattle traffic sign

September 5, 2010 at 1:35 pm | In Crime, Safety, West Seattle news | 41 Comments

ORIGINAL 1:35 PM REPORT: First it was posted in the WSB Forums – then a neighbor/passer-by e-mailed a photo – but we weren’t going to believe it till we saw it for ourselves. Which we have since done. Yes, we know these signs have been hacked/vandalized/tampered with elsewhere in the country, but this is the first one we’ve heard of – at least in recent years – in West Seattle. Bart Simpson‘s trademark phrase is now displayed on the illuminated signboard just west of 18th SW on eastbound Dawson – BIG safety hazard because this is the warning sign that is inbetween a couple of tricky curves in the detour zone for the 16th SW road-rebuilding work north of South Seattle Community College. As we noted in the Forum, 206-386-1218 is the 24-hour city dispatch center for road problems; we didn’t see a crew when we were there, but will check back later. We’ll also be checking with SDOT to see why the sign wasn’t hackproofed.

6:09 PM UPDATE: We had sent a request for comment to the SDOT communications team, just in case they were monitoring e-mail; though we haven’t heard directly from any of them, we did just receive this e-mail from SDOT’s Susan Byers:

I am the SDOT (project manager) for the paving project on 16th Avenue SW. The message has been changed back to the original message.

7:29 PM UPDATE: Confirmed – here are our photos of the three-part message it’s back to displaying:

And we’ve also heard back from Rick Sheridan, who leads SDOT’s communications team:

The signs’ controllers can be secured but those locks can be cut or broken. We have taken measures to prevent further access.


  1. That is hilarious!

    Comment by Cami — 1:36 pm September 5, 2010 #

  2. luvvit! :D

    Comment by birdgeek — 1:58 pm September 5, 2010 #

  3. very very funny

    Comment by Diane — 2:00 pm September 5, 2010 #

  4. So funny…. LOL!

    Comment by Bonnie — 2:15 pm September 5, 2010 #

  5. Nice little respite from our over-idiot-proofed lives. The several other signs, flagger, etc. will no doubt prevent this from being a “BIG safety hazard.” Don’t stick your fingers in electrical sockets, people. ;)

    Comment by Michael — 2:25 pm September 5, 2010 #

  6. “Does Barry Manilow know you raid his wardrobe?”

    “You’re mine Bender, for 2 whole months…mine”

    Comment by k2 — 2:39 pm September 5, 2010 #

  7. UM!! way before bart simpson…started with Judd Nelson in Breakfast Club…

    Comment by k2 — 2:39 pm September 5, 2010 #

  8. I’m guessing this isn’t so much hacking, but rather some carelessness on behalf of the operator. Something like leaving the system unlocked, or using a crummy password. I’m basing that on my assumption that these portable signs are programmed on-site and not remotely.

    Comment by Jeff — 2:40 pm September 5, 2010 #

  9. 95% of the folks traveling that stretch of 16th Ave know exactly what they are in for. So I appreciate the creativity.

    Comment by JayDee — 2:50 pm September 5, 2010 #

  10. Yeah c’mon, we all gotta have a little fun sometimes. Don’t have a cow, man!

    Comment by Damien — 2:57 pm September 5, 2010 #

  11. I needed something to make my day and this is it. Thank you sign hacker.

    Comment by Babs — 3:03 pm September 5, 2010 #

  12. Jeff – that is exactly why we put “hacked” in quote marks in the headline – the youngest member of the household retorted indignantly, “That’s not HACKING!” when we explained what we’d been out confirming.
    K2 – May be true, but Bart, er, his Northwest-native creator Matt Groening made it famous. If the actual hacker/reprogrammer/vandal/whatever cares to contact us and explain who she/he/they were trying to pay homage to, well, our contact methods are all on the “Contact” tab … TR

    Comment by WSB — 3:15 pm September 5, 2010 #

  13. Keep West Seattle weird!

    Comment by Creighton — 3:15 pm September 5, 2010 #

  14. That is awesome!!

    Comment by wally — 3:33 pm September 5, 2010 #

  15. What makes you think SDOT didn’t know about it?

    Comment by Carraig na splinkeen — 3:34 pm September 5, 2010 #

  16. HaHaHaHaHaHaHa!!!!!!!!!!

    Comment by bebecat — 3:42 pm September 5, 2010 #

  17. Walter Matthau – Grumpy Old Men. Too funny!

    Comment by Robindianne — 3:48 pm September 5, 2010 #

  18. that’s pretty funny. lol. it was bound to happen…

    Comment by LyndaB — 3:53 pm September 5, 2010 #

  19. D’oh!!!!!!

    Comment by marty — 4:01 pm September 5, 2010 #

  20. How did they do that? :)

    Comment by Jiggers — 4:12 pm September 5, 2010 #

  21. Bart Simpson has probably used the phrase most frequently in popular culture. But if I’m not mistaken Jeff Spicoli used the expression in the film “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” which came out a couple years before the Breakfast Club.

    Comment by christopherboffoli — 4:20 pm September 5, 2010 #

  22. It is so wrong to do this. i hope they did not read this: http://jalopnik.com/5141430/how-to-hack-an-electronic-road-sign

    (just sayin’)

    Comment by Bob Loblaw — 4:39 pm September 5, 2010 #

  23. I’m not sure if it’s the original source of the phrase, but didn’t Richard Nixon say it to JFK in one of their Presidential Debates some 50 years ago?



    Comment by miws — 6:31 pm September 5, 2010 #

  24. Nice.

    Comment by flippydingles — 6:57 pm September 5, 2010 #

  25. Awesome :) Love a good sense of humor!

    Comment by Catherine — 6:59 pm September 5, 2010 #

  26. This will take at least three public workers with union health and pension benefits to fix.

    Rest assured though – these lights are powered by energy efficient bulbs.

    Comment by Dave — 7:31 pm September 5, 2010 #

  27. Already fixed, actually, updated the story more than an hour ago (and just added pictorial proof) – TR

    Comment by WSB — 7:34 pm September 5, 2010 #

  28. have never watched Bart Simpson; still very funny

    Comment by Diane — 7:48 pm September 5, 2010 #

  29. Yeah, the construction has been there long enough. We all know about it and are bored with it, a good laugh is well deserved!!

    Comment by crystal — 7:49 pm September 5, 2010 #

  30. my kids were very interested in Bob’s link :)

    Comment by C — 7:59 pm September 5, 2010 #

  31. If that doesn’t get the driver’s attention, the real message won’t either.

    Comment by I. Ponder — 8:01 pm September 5, 2010 #

  32. Made my day. LOL.

    Comment by CB — 8:28 pm September 5, 2010 #

  33. Hahahahahahahahaha…. I Love it!! That’s awesome…LOL

    Comment by S — 9:34 pm September 5, 2010 #

  34. LMBO!! I litterally laughed so hard i was in tears, this is just up the road from me, I cant believe I missed this :0) What a riot!! Way too funny!! No one likes to be hacked, but this was a creative way to get a laugh. What a Hoot!!

    Comment by Rebecca K. — 9:49 pm September 5, 2010 #

  35. Ah, rats. It’s fixed. I like ‘eat my shorts’ better.

    Comment by pigeonmom — 3:51 am September 6, 2010 #

  36. Years (more then 20) ago a radio station had a “gimick?” of somekind, where a person could call in and ask for a “Eat My Shorts” song be dedicated to someone that got on their nerves … don’t remember who sang the song, but it was very, very widely used!!!

    Comment by Fellow Citizen — 5:30 am September 6, 2010 #

  37. Cool!

    Comment by 56bricks — 6:58 am September 6, 2010 #

  38. Good one!

    Comment by sandy steiner — 8:30 am September 6, 2010 #

  39. very nice

    Comment by W.S. Mavrick — 8:45 am September 6, 2010 #

  40. I encourage this type of behavior.

    Comment by flipjack — 10:38 am September 6, 2010 #

  41. That is very awesome, but after looking on the net for a while at what others have done, I can’t help but feel like there are much funnier things that could have been written. “Zombies Ahead” is always classic, and I also like the two parters, such as “[screen 1]Let me see that [screen 2] Thong ThThong ThongThong”

    Comment by Alex — 6:26 pm September 7, 2010 #

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