State risks $14M in road and highway funding for keeping flashy ‘I Love NY’ signs

Posted On Fri, February 2, 2018 By

Posted On Fri, February 2, 2018 By In Policy, Transportation

Big blue signs, similar to this one, decorate the sides of New York’s highways; photo via Wikimedia

Despite demands from the federal government for over two years to remove the “I Love NY” highway signs, Gov. Andrew Cuomo refused to comply. Now, the state of New York could lose up to $14 million in federal funding for not taking down the more than 500 big blue signs found along the state’s highways, considered to be distracting to drivers. According to the New York Times, the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) first raised concerns in 2011 when the signs were still an abstract idea. The state installed them anyway.

According to the federal government, highway signs may only contain certain fonts and images in order to reduce the distraction of drivers. Federal officials say the giant blue signs are out of compliance due to words like “Taste NY” and an ad for the state’s tourism app.

New York missed the Sept. 30 deadline to remove the signage and now risks $14 million in funding for roads and highways. In a letter to state transportation officials on Thursday, the FHWA said the state will be docked one percent of its 2018 federal funding from the National Highway Performance Program, which maintains national highways, and the Surface Transportation Block Grant Program, which funds road and tunnel improvements.

“Motorist safety is always our primary objective,” Brandye Hendrickson, the acting administrator of the FHWA, wrote in the letter. “Because of the installation of more than 500 noncompliant signs and repeated notification to remove these installations, the FHWA will assess initial penalties for noncompliance effective immediately.”

The first billboards were installed in 2013, with more added in 2016. Each sign costs about $15,000 to create and install and in total, the state has paid about $8.1 million for the signage. While New York’s transportation agency insists the signs are safe, a spokesperson for the department, Joseph Morrissey, told the Times that the state will work with FHWA to reach a “mutually beneficial resolution.”

[Via NY Times]


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