LePage signs Interstate sign bill into law

AUGUSTA — Gov. Paul LePage has signed into law a bill that relocates or removes dozens of signs advertising schools, beaches, ski slopes and other attractions from Maine’s two interstate highways.

Sun Journal file photo

A sign along the Maine Turnpike advises the Lewiston Sports Complex is accessible from Exit 80.  The sign is among about 90 that will be coming down under a new law passed by the Legislature this month.

LePage signed LD 1831 Wednesday. The measure aims to protect about $170 million in federal highway funds by bringing the state in line with federal regulations on signs placed along the Maine Turnpike, Interstate 95 and I-295.

The law, which will be put in place over a span of five years, results in about 90 signs being removed, relocated closer to the exits leading to locations advertised or replaced with smaller signs that fall within the bounds of federal rules.

Several signs for local areas slated to be removed include signs on the Maine Turnpike pointing to the Lewiston Sports Complex, Shaker Village and Hebron Academy.

Signs directing motorists to “Miles of Scenic Beaches” and the Saco Hotel and Conference Center also would be removed. Civic centers and auditoriums such as the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, the Augusta Civic Center and the Androscoggin Bank Colisee will not be eligible for state-sponsored guide signs but can buy logo signs.

The 3- by 4-foot logo signs would cost $1,500 per year. Those eligible to buy logo signs would also receive 18- by 24-inch exit ramp signs.

The law was the result of a nearly yearlong effort of the Maine Turnpike Authority and the Maine Department of Transportation. Backers said it would protect valuable federal highway funds for Maine and would take the sign-approval process out of the political realm by establishing a standard regulatory process by which new signs could be placed along the highways.

The law doesn't prevent people or organizations from coming to the Legislature to request a special law to put up a sign on an interstate, but it does give lawmakers a policy directive that allows them to more easily reject the requests.

The Legislature previously has decided on a case-by-case basis each time a business or other group wanted to put a sign on an interstate.

The law also allows an appeal process that would be administered by the Turnpike Authority and MDOT if a sign application were rejected.

The law goes into effect 90 days after the current legislative session adjourns.

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Comments

FRANK EARLEY's picture

This is truly the spirit of............

This is truly the spirit of Vacation land. We have vast scenic areas, beaches hunting, skiing and other tourist locations spread all over the State. We have many restaurants both large and small, hotels, motels, and bed and breakfast destinations. All this to support the largest industry in the State, tourism.
Those little and some not so little signs indicating which exit or which roads to follow have been part of the interstate system as long as I can remember. Some times I have benefited from one or two of those signs in finding a location, or route number.
What I'd like to know is what harm were they doing. They don't block urgent traffic signs, they're not like those huge billboards seen in other states that line the road for many miles before reaching a destination. They aren't lit up at night, no flashing neon lights like in other states. these were just small directional and informational signs I feel played a huge role in directing tourists to their destination. Lets face it, a state as large as Maine, serviced by just two interstate highways leaves a lot of hiding places for resorts and other tourist destinations.
The State of Maine is a year round destination for millions of money spending tourists. Is it to much to ask that we kind of show them the way? or is the miniscule profit margin of the highway signs more important??????????????

Those glittering signs and

Those glittering signs and billboards in other states are paid for by the private sector. They are not State and Federally funded. The theory, I believe, is the appearance of favoritism, of one business getting a government funded sign for their business while another has to pay for one of those squares on a blue sign. So who's getting hurt? The businesses who didn't know the right people in order to get a free sign. Must be how the Saco Convention Center managed to get its own exit.

CAROLYN LIBBEY's picture

It's about time. And what

It's about time. And what exactly is the "Lewiston Sports Complex?" Your guess is as good as mine! Business signs on our state highways are advertising that needs to be paid for.

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