AUGUSTA — A legislative committee on Thursday unanimously approved a bill that would help align the state’s interstate landscape with federal rules by moving and removing dozens of signs.

The Transportation Committee also made several changes to the bill to allow several signs to stay on the Maine Turnpike and to allow others to purchase 3- by 4-foot logo signs where space allows.

About 19 signs fall into that category, including those for Scarborough Downs, the Old Port Exchange, Pineland Farms, Shaker Village and the Lewiston Sports Complex.

Also losing signs will be those directing motorists to “Miles of Scenic Beaches,” Hebron Academy and the Saco Hotel and Conference Center.

Civic centers and auditoriums, including the Cross Insurance Center in Bangor, the Augusta Civic Center and the Androscoggin Bank Colisee would also not be eligible for state-sponsored guide signs and would have to purchase logo signs for their facilities.

Lawmakers said they were happy with the result of what’s been a nearly yearlong effort of the Maine Turnpike Authority and the Maine Department of Transportation to put the state’s interstate sign policy on track and to avoid annual political battles over who should be allowed a sign on the state’s two interstate highways, I-295 and I-95.


Tweaks to the bill would allow signs currently in place for major recreational areas to stay put, including Maine’s largest ski areas and one of its smallest ski areas. One amendment allows Lost Valley in Auburn to keep its sign south of Exit 75 on the Maine Turnpike, because the resort is within 10 miles of the highway, has a chairlift, at least 10 trails and at least 200 vertical feet of descent.

Bruce Van Note, deputy commissioner of the MDOT, said the bill was truly a team effort by his agency, the MTA and the lawmakers on the Transportation Committee. 

“We started this process looking for fair and consistent standards that we could apply that treated entities in similar situations the same way,” Van Note said. “We are pleased we are going to be able to support it knowing we have the support of the Legislature.”

Mills called the bill a result of “the Legislature functioning at its best.”

He said his staff spent “days and days” on the policy. The committee had originally directed his agency and MDOT to find a solution to the onslaught of requests that were coming to the Legislature from people seeking interstate signs.

“The direction from the committee last year gave us hope that we could achieve something that has escaped us for decades and that was a rational sign policy,” Mills said.


He said the policy would help the state keep to its strict standards banning commercial billboards along the highway. The state is one of only four that have billboard bans.  

State Rep. Ann Peoples, D-Westbrook, a long-serving member of the committee, said equally important to the intent of the bill was taking the issue of who gets a sign and who doesn’t out of the realm of “political favoritism and put them into the realm of something that agrees with (federal policy).”

Mills and Van Note said they believe the measure will garner the support of Gov. Paul LePage. Both men said the governor simply asked that they make sure the measure was fair and they said they believed they had achieved that goal.

The bill will next move to the House of Representatives.

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