Transportation

TxDOT Considers Allowing Higher Billboards On Some Texas Roadways

Proposal comes at the request of the outdoor advertising industry.

TxDOT is hearing public comment through next Monday on a proposal that would allow for higher billboards on some Texas rural roads. Supporters of the proposal say higher billboards would actually help preserve the natural landscape, while opponents say the signs would contribute to roadside blight.

That proposal mainly addresses billboards in unincorporated areas, places where you don’t currently have ordinances that govern billboard height.

As the rules stand right now, TxDOT doesn’t allow billboards higher than 42-and-a-half feet. The proposed new rule would allow billboards as high as 65 feet.   

One of the groups speaking out against higher billboards is Scenic Texas, which has been fighting to curb billboard expansion. Scenic Texas Vice-President Margaret Lloyd says taller signs would only contribute to what she says is clutter on the roadsides.

“This is a request from a $7 billion industry that seems to be doing just fine without our help, to create more pollution and more visual blight than we already have.”   

But representatives of the outdoor advertising industry say the new rules would give billboard companies greater flexibility.  

Wes Gilbreath is the president of SignAd Outdoor Advertising. He says they’re not talking about raising all signs, but having the option of building new signs that better accommodate their clients.

“So their signs are not hindered by hillsides or vegetation that’s growing up taller, and also for the landowners and traveling public to enhance their view.”

TxDOT’s Veronica Beyer says they’re reviewing the rules at the request of outdoor advertisers.

Studies have shown that drivers traveling 60 to 70 MPH can better view the higher signs. Beyer says the Texas Transportation Commission will do its own research before making a final decision.

“You know, this is just a proposal at this time and we’re accepting public feedback until July 14, and the commission will be looking at each one of those comments before making their decision and adopting final rules in August.”

Beyer says if the commission approves, the new billboard rules could go into effect as soon as September.

If the rules win approval, they wouldn’t affect billboards in Houston. The city banned permits for new billboards in the 1980’s.

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Gail Delaughter

Gail Delaughter

Transportation Reporter

From early-morning interviews with commuters to walks through muddy construction sites, Gail covers all aspects of getting around Houston. That includes walking, driving, cycling, taking the bus, and occasionally flying. Before she became transportation reporter in 2011, Gail hosted weekend programs for Houston Public Media. She's also covered courts in...

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