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Highway department backs off billboard proposal

The state department proposed increasing the current height limit by almost 22 feet, which would have allowed billboards to be a maximum 65 feet tall.

The Associated Press

8/29/2014

AUSTIN, Texas — The Texas Department of Transportation is backing off a proposal to raise the height of billboards following hundreds of public comments from people who opposed the plan, an agency spokesman said.

The state department proposed increasing the current height limit by almost 22 feet, which would have allowed billboards to be a maximum 65 feet tall. Advertisers supported the plan, saying taller signs are needed because the speed of travel has increased and highways have expanded.

The transportation department received about 900 public comments asking the department not to raise the height limit.

The proposal is expected to come up for a vote in September, but appears dead, the Austin American-Statesman reported Wednesday (http://bit.ly/1tGEbVm ).

Anne Culver of environmental group Scenic Texas said she's pleased the state transportation agency dropped its support of the proposal. The organization argued bigger signs would block country views and pose a threat of distraction for drivers.

A transportation department staff memo also said highway officials wanted to pull their support based on conflicting findings from industry and environmental group studies.

This summer, highway officials said findings from industry trade group studies indicate "to have a functional viewing distance at 60 to 70 miles per hour, a sign should have approximately 65 feet of vertical offset."

Scenic Texas paid for a study of its own which said the industry group analyses were flawed.

Information from: Austin American-Statesman, http://www.statesman.com

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