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Energy & Environment

WATCH: Taller Billboards Could Soon Be (Unintentionally) Allowed in Texas

TxDOT is proposing a rule that would allow more over-sized billboards than lawmakers wanted.



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A proposal from the state transportation department could lead to taller billboards in Texas, and some worry it’s an unintentional effect of a new state law passed this year.

Billboards in Texas aren’t allowed to be taller than 42.5 feet. But earlier this year, the legislature passed a law that gave a pass to more than 100 billboards currently over the limit. The idea was to settle lawsuits over the signs – in essence, to grandfather them in.

The Texas Department of Transportation has proposed a rule change to comply with the law, but the wording could give advertisers who want bigger signs a loophole.

Angus Lupton, Chief of Staff for Senator Robert Nichols, spoke on Nichols’ behalf about the issue at a recent Texas Transportation Commission meeting.

“In no way did we intend TxDOT to authorize thousands of signs to be built or rebuilt up to 85 feet in height or more,” Lupton said. Sen. Nichols authored the new law.

TxDOT's rule, as written, would allow any sign built before March 1st to grow up to 85 feet. Lupton told the commission that was not the goal.

"We are concerned about the marring of the scenic beauty of our state,” said Margaret Lloyd with Scenic Texas, a group opposing the rule change.

She argued that rural, tourism-dependent towns could be harmed by the taller signs.

TxDOT said the commission will take public comment on the proposed rule change, and will consider what it calls the "unintended consequences" of the new law. Nichols has asked the commission to reject the new rule, if it's not rewritten.

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