Update: SDOT fixes ‘hacked’ West Seattle traffic sign

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.

41 Replies to "Update: SDOT fixes 'hacked' West Seattle traffic sign"

  • Cami September 5, 2010 (1:36 pm)

    That is hilarious!

  • birdgeek September 5, 2010 (1:58 pm)

    luvvit! :D

  • Diane September 5, 2010 (2:00 pm)

    very very funny

  • Bonnie September 5, 2010 (2:15 pm)

    So funny…. LOL!

  • Michael September 5, 2010 (2:25 pm)

    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. ;)

  • k2 September 5, 2010 (2:39 pm)

    “Does Barry Manilow know you raid his wardrobe?”

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

  • k2 September 5, 2010 (2:39 pm)

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

  • Jeff September 5, 2010 (2:40 pm)

    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.

    • WSB September 5, 2010 (3:15 pm)

      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

  • JayDee September 5, 2010 (2:50 pm)

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

  • Damien September 5, 2010 (2:57 pm)

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

  • Babs September 5, 2010 (3:03 pm)

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

  • Creighton September 5, 2010 (3:15 pm)

    Keep West Seattle weird!

  • wally September 5, 2010 (3:33 pm)

    That is awesome!!

  • Carraig na splinkeen September 5, 2010 (3:34 pm)

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

  • bebecat September 5, 2010 (3:42 pm)


  • Robindianne September 5, 2010 (3:48 pm)

    Walter Matthau – Grumpy Old Men. Too funny!

  • LyndaB September 5, 2010 (3:53 pm)

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

  • marty September 5, 2010 (4:01 pm)


  • Jiggers September 5, 2010 (4:12 pm)

    How did they do that? :)

  • christopherboffoli September 5, 2010 (4:20 pm)

    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.

  • Bob Loblaw September 5, 2010 (4:39 pm)

    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’)

  • miws September 5, 2010 (6:31 pm)

    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?



  • flippydingles September 5, 2010 (6:57 pm)


  • Catherine September 5, 2010 (6:59 pm)

    Awesome :) Love a good sense of humor!

  • Dave September 5, 2010 (7:31 pm)

    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.

    • WSB September 5, 2010 (7:34 pm)

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

  • Diane September 5, 2010 (7:48 pm)

    have never watched Bart Simpson; still very funny

  • crystal September 5, 2010 (7:49 pm)

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

  • C September 5, 2010 (7:59 pm)

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

  • I. Ponder September 5, 2010 (8:01 pm)

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

  • CB September 5, 2010 (8:28 pm)

    Made my day. LOL.

  • S September 5, 2010 (9:34 pm)

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

  • Rebecca K. September 5, 2010 (9:49 pm)

    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!!

  • pigeonmom September 6, 2010 (3:51 am)

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

  • Fellow Citizen September 6, 2010 (5:30 am)

    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!!!

  • 56bricks September 6, 2010 (6:58 am)


  • sandy steiner September 6, 2010 (8:30 am)

    Good one!

  • W.S. Mavrick September 6, 2010 (8:45 am)

    very nice

  • flipjack September 6, 2010 (10:38 am)

    I encourage this type of behavior.

  • Alex September 7, 2010 (6:26 pm)

    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”

Sorry, comment time is over.