A forest of “I Love New York” signs have proliferated across the South Fork and the North Fork as part of an onslaught of more than 500 oversize tourism signs that have cropped up around the state since officials installed them last summer.
To say that not everybody loves the baby-blue billboards with the multiple messages — “Experience,” “Explore,” “Enjoy,” “Taste NY” and “Path Through History” — is an understatement. In fact, an outcry on social media and complaints from residents back in July led to the eviction of several of them from Montauk and Orient.
Now, the federal government is joining the growing ranks of the naysayers: Officials from the Federal Highway Administration have told the New York State Department of Transportation that the signs don’t conform to federal standards; that roadway signs shouldn’t be so large; that they’re so packed with extraneous information that they can distract motorists, and that they even violate the mission of a sign, which is basic way-finding and safety for drivers.
And the bottom line from the FHA: Federal highway funding for projects in New York could be significantly scaled back unless the state removes, modifies or downsizes many or most of the offending signs.
That includes multiple signs along the Long Island Expressway in Suffolk County, which can take several seconds to read in full.
The administration of Governor Andrew Cuomo, which spent nearly $2 million fabricating and erecting the signs, has argued that they’re an invaluable boost to promoting tourism and provide informational aids to visitors about what to see, where to go and where to stay.
“This isn’t high crimes,” said state DOT spokesman Gary Holmes. “These are minor disagreements that we look forward to meeting with the feds in order to resolve.” He said the “I Love New York” tourism program was a highly successful economic driver across the state.
Meanwhile, federal officials said a meeting was in the works between FHA Administrator Gregory Nadeau and state DOT Commissioner Matt Driscoll in an effort to resolve the impasse.