It’s a beautiful Saturday morning, and you hop in your car for a weekend escape to the H ill C ountry expecting to see natural landscapes and wildflowers. Instead you may encounter billboards nearly as tall as a 10-story building — and not just on Interstate highways, but along any federal road in Texas. Check out this link showing where they are: www.tourtexas.com/texas-maps/texas-road-map
Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) has proposed a rule change allowing existing billboards to double in height from 42.5 feet to 85 feet — and the outdoor advertising industry is flooding them with letters requesting unlimited height. Only an overwhelming public outcry will prevent this new reality.
Imagine how billboards of this size will change your experience driving through Texas! Whether you’re going to Weatherford for its Public Market, to Palo Duro Canyon, Big Bend, Jefferson or to Marble Falls — you will drive on a federal road to get there. Think how this would affect the image of our state, cause economic damage to quality development, and blight scenic and historic tourism businesses. According to TxDOT, 15,000 to 20,000 existing signs may be affected.
What about highway safety? The sole purpose of billboards is to draw the eyes of travelers to their advertising. The bigger the sign, the longer the eyes are distracted. A 10-story sign is a big diversion!
The Texas Transportation Commission oversees TxDOT. Its task: To build and maintain our roadways and to promote safety and public welfare. This is the agency that created the logo “Don’t Mess with Texas.” How can the proposed rule change possibly be consistent with their mandate and their slogan? It only serves the financial interests of the billboard industry.
You can stop this. Tell the Transportation commissioners to oppose this change. Your comments must be received by 5 p.m. on Oct. 16.
Does Texas really want to sell its landscape? Will we let giant commercial advertising block our sunsets, wildflowers, prairies, rolling hills and river vistas? It really is up to you. Speak up now!
Judy Harman is the president of Scenic Fort Worth.
How to be part of the process:
▪ Please click this Scenic Texas link — it’s easy!
▪ A “real” letter on letterhead is even better. Address letters to the commission:
Members, Texas Transportation Commission
Texas Department of Transportation
125 E. 11th Street
Austin, TX 78701
▪ Go to the public hearing in Austin at 9 a.m. Tuesday, October 26, at 125 East 11th Street in the Ric Williamson Hearing Room.