NATSO urged the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) to refrain from waiving the current prohibition on commercial advertising on the Interstate right-of-way if California passes pending legislation.
The California Senate Transportation Committee recently approved SB 1397, which would permit the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) to seek federal approval to use commercial advertising on changeable message signs when they are not being used for safety or transportation-related messages.
The measure contradicts federal policy prohibiting commercial advertising on the right-of-way and would establish national precedent for significant commercial encroachment on highway rights-of-way purchased for public purpose.
In a letter to FHWA Administrator Gregory Nadeau, NATSO said waiving the current prohibition on commercial advertising on the right-of-way in California would erode current policies that protect investment-backed expectations of enterprises located outside the right-of-way.
California’s Department of Transportation in 2008 sought a federal waiver under the SEP-15 program to commercialize rest areas, allow commercial advertising via electronic signs and corporate logos in floral designs and allow alternate-fuel stations. That waiver was denied.
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