New York has started taking down and relocating its 500 “I Love NY” tourism signs, the Department of Transportation said on Thursday, fulfilling the accord the state reached with the federal government that required they come down.
“These signs will be repurposed at various service areas, welcome centers and state-owned facilities as appropriate to inform travelers of programs that support New York’s $100 billion annual tourism industry,” a Department of Transportation spokesman said by email.
“We will also be modifying the remaining signs to include economic development regions of the state to facilitate areas of interest off the federal interstate highway system,” the spokesman said.
As part of its accord with the Federal Highway Administration, New York submitted its plan for a new tourism campaign; the FHA said it now is reviewing what it called the experimental, conceptual signs that are part of that program. New York also said it would have the signs removed by Nov. 21, according to the FHA.
On Long Island, 144 "I Love NY" signs were erected on the Meadowbrook, Wantagh and Northern State parkways, the Long Island Expressway, at Jones Beach and at Long Island MacArthur Airport.
Some of the signs, posted on local streets in Montauk, Port Jefferson and Orient, were later removed after complaints from residents and local officials that they were ugly and ruined the aesthetics of the landscape.
The Cuomo administration put the signs up in 2013 to boost tourism, saying they offered useful information and did not cause accidents.
The federal government, however, said the signs violated laws limiting road signs to navigational assistance and barring them from being used as ads.
The battle over the large blue-and-white highway signs, which typically appear on major state roadways in groups of five — a so-called motherboard, followed by four successive markers — erupted after the Federal Highway Administration rejected the state’s request to install them.
Because the signs were erected, the FHA in February threatened to withhold an estimated $14 million from the roughly $1 billion the agency gives the state annually for highway and bridge improvements.
The state did not lose the funding after agreeing in late September to remove the signs.