Highway tourism signs threaten $1 billion in federal funding

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ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) – A federal agency is now claiming the new “I Love New York” signs highlighting tourism attractions are not allowed and wants them gone.

Hundreds of signs now bear the “I love New York” slogan across the state. The new signs highlight tourist attractions in the area.

“I think they’re great,” said Austin Gent, originally from San Diego. “I think it’s just like a standard symbol for New York in general.”

The Federal Highway Administration now says the signs don’t conform to federal standards and the amount of information they display is dangerous, due to the risk of distracted drivers.

Some travelers agree.

“I think it’s a little ridiculous, because you can have all these advertisements up on the side of the highway and they can be pretty distracting sometimes,” said Gent. “But a sign that’s for tourism, I don’t see any reason why.”

“If I had to rank signs on the side of the road as a distraction, I’d put them somewhere between 75th and 100th on the list of things to be concerned about,” said John Fraser, from Albany. “The real problem is what distracts people from driving, and that can be anything from stirring your coffee, fiddling with your radio, playing with your kid… any number of things.”

The Highway Administration will meet with DOT Commissioner Matt Driscoll next month in Washington, D.C. to formulate a plan to remove the signs.

State officials are still resistant. They say the signs help promote tourism and provide valuable information about New York’s attractions. And they aren’t alone.

“I thought they were rather attractive and nice to see on the road,” said Denise Alaniz, a Long Island native. “It gives you all the information about upstate New York or New York in general.”

“They’re certainly helpful for people traveling along the Thruway and the interstates,” said Bill Murphy.

Despite the support, a threat to cut nearly $1 billion in federal funding if the signs aren’t removed means the signs’ days are likely numbered.

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