After one of its mobile construction-zone message signs on Interstate 15 flashed "God Hates Gays," the Utah Department of Transportation says it is now busy ensuring such signs are secured to prevent passers-by from reprogramming them.
On Tuesday night, a sign at Provo's University Avenue exit alternated flashing "Follow detour," and "God Hates Gays."
"Someone broke in and reprogrammed one of our message boards," said Leigh Dethman, spokeswoman for the I-15 Corridor Expansion project that is rebuilding the freeway in Utah County. "It happened sometime after 10 p.m., and was taken down about 5:30 a.m. [Wednesday], but we don't know exactly what time it went up."
Dethman said UDOT did not receive complaint calls, but a contractor noticed the message and stopped it. A video of the sign was posted on YouTube on Thursday, entitled "Really, Provo?"
Dethman said the sign was not secured, allowing any passer-by to reprogram it. "So anyone could have done this," she said.
"The program boards cannot be accessed remotely. So someone had to physically go into the board and reprogram it. This was an isolated incident and this sign was unsecured," she said.
"UDOT has taken appropriation action with the contractor," Dethman said without elaborating. But she did say that UDOT and the contractor are assessing all electronic signs to ensure they are properly secured "so that this never happens again."
Dethman added, "Obviously, this message is extremely offensive," and UDOT condemns it.
" We take this very seriously because these signs are so important to communicating road construction and traffic messages to keep the public informed and safe."
The online video was attracting plenty of negative comments Â so one Provo spokeswoman even added a comment there saying the city did not do it, and condemned the message.
"This is not a Provo City sign and of course it does not reflect the opinion of the city. I personally find it very offensive. Despite every effort to prevent it, sometimes signs like this get hacked," wrote Provo spokeswoman Helen Anderson.
It is not the first time that a hacked message about religion appeared on a UDOT sign. In 2009, a sign on Foothill Drive in Salt Lake City flashed, "It's official. God does not exist." UDOT also blamed that on someone who broke into the machine and reprogrammed the message.