What Are Your Rights? New York State is Being Forced to Remove Hundreds of Highway Signs

Announcer: The following segment is sponsored by Martin, Harding, & Mazzotti.

Female: According to the Federal Highway Administration, hundreds of “I Love New York” signs along New York State’s highways are illegal and must come down. A last-minute deal between New York State and the Feds was reached just days ago for the bulk of the signs to come down. The purpose of them? Of course to urge travelers and people driving to stop in local communities and boost tourism. But now, it appears about 80% of the signs, the ones that are most distracting, will be moved off highways into parks and rest areas. Here to help examine this issue is Managing Partner Paul Harding from the law firm of Martin, Harding, & Mazzotti. Paul, welcome.

Paul: Thank you.

Female: Thank you for being here. So, let’s jump right into it. What is it about these signs that makes them illegal?

Paul: Well, the federal government feels they look more like advertisements, less informational. If you look at those signs, and I kind of noticed it myself over the years, there’s a lot there. If you read it the whole time and you’re turning your head, you could be distracted. So, they want them taken down.

Female: Okay, so how is the federal government able to, kind of, dictate what signs the State of New York puts up along its highways? And what happens if the state refuses to remove them?

Paul: Well, the federal government has 14 million reasons why they think that New York State should comply, right? So, there’s this federal funding for highways. They’ve threatened to not give it to New York. But the reality of it is they want safe highways nationally. They want to look the same. You drive from New York, to Vermont, to New Hampshire, you don’t want to make it look like you’ve traveled into Canada. So, they do control it. They’re on legal, sound ground and we’re gonna see those signs coming down.

Female: Okay, so some of these signs though, may just be moved to locations off the Interstate, in towns, closer to rest stops, things like that. So, you may still see them around. How do you ultimately see this playing out?

Paul: Well, I think that the federal government is kind of reexamining…are they gonna lighten it up a little bit? Are they gonna let [inaudible 00:01:53] be a little more information? Not quite as much as we had, but they sort of liked the concept. There’s gonna be new signs, and the signs are gonna have less on them, but I think they’re gonna kinda lighten the rules a little bit. And, I think, ultimately, it’s gonna just look a little bit different than we’ve been noticing the last several years.

Female: All right. Well, we’ll of course be keeping an eye on the signs to see what happens. Paul, thank you, so much for being here.