Houston Community Newspapers 6/18/14 By the Examiner Staff

A nonprofit devoted to preserving and enhancing the visual character of Texas is seeking the public’s help to oppose a Texas Department of Transportation (TxDOT) rule change that could increase the allowable height of billboards along federal highways.
The proposed rule would increase billboard height by 35 percent, from 42.5 feet to 65 feet, except in cities that have stricter standards.
The nonprofit Scenic Texas opposes the proposal, which it says is being considered solely at the request of the billboard industry.
“Raising the height of Texas billboards serves no public purpose,” the organization writes in a press release. It calls billboards “a driver distraction” and a source of light pollution in rural areas if brightly lit at night. The group also claims billboards have a negative impact on natural wildlife habitats, degrade taxpayer’s investment in public highways, create visual pollution and spoil scenic views.
“Taller billboards would simply aggravate all these concerns,” the press release states.
“Most Texans believe billboard advertising signs spoil the view and would be happy to see them disappear,” said Margaret Lloyd, vice president, Scenic Texas. “Certainly, they tell us that at the current height, they are already too intrusive. We don’t think Texans will embrace the idea of even taller billboards.”
States have essentially controlled outdoor advertising along the primary federal highway system since 1965, when the federal Highway Beautification Act (HBA), championed by President Lyndon B. Johnson and Lady Bird Johnson, was adopted by Congress. A state may certify cities to maintain effective control inside a city’s jurisdiction. In Texas, there are 40 certified cities, including Houston. Four states — Maine, Vermont, Alaska and Hawaii — have no billboards. Scenic Texas estimates that Texas has approximately 40,000 billboards.
TxDOT will conduct a public hearing on the rule change proposal at 9 a.m. Tuesday, June 24, at 125 E. 11th Street in Austin. Written comments should use the subject line “Right of Way” and may be sent before 5 p.m. July 14 via email to RuleComments@txdot.gov or by mail addressed to: Rule Comments, General Counsel’s Office, Texas Department of Transportation, 125 E. 11th Street, Austin, TX 78701.
Additional information about the proposed rules and comment details can be found here

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