NY to redesign highway signs after feds docked state $14 million

One of the New York State tourism signs

One of the New York State tourism signs

The signs are for the state's "I Love New York" tourism campaign, but federal transportation officials are holding $14 million in highway funds hostage until the state agrees to take them down.

The announcement came a day after the Federal Highway Administration docked the state $14 million in highway funds for installing the signs and ignoring various warnings to remove them.

New York spent millions putting up the "I Love New York" signs that federal official claimed were illegal.

For two years the federal government has been telling the state to remove the signs, arguing the billboards are in violation of highway rules and are distracting to drivers.

Federal officials gave the state until September 30 to remove the signs or forfeit the money.

State officials say the existing signs will be used but modified to advertise a new tourism campaign called "NY has it all!"

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In 2013, federal officials denied a Cuomo administration request to place the tourism signs along the Thruway and other roadways. Good news, perhaps for those who like the signs.

"Gov. Cuomo fought the law with his promotional road signs, and the law won", the conservative-leaning Reclaim New York Initiative said in a statement.

Federal Highway Administration officials say the funding will be reinstated if there's a resolution by September 30.

Joseph Morrissey, a spokesman for the state Department of Transportation, downplayed the highway administrator's letter, saying it "is part of the discussion process and in no way represents the end of the dialogue".

The reason for the increase in state taxes is that many New Yorkers will not no longer be able to itemize deductions on their state returns. From Greater Niagara to Long Island, "I Love NY" signs have helped get motorists off the roads and into mom-and-pop restaurants, shops, and historic destinations. "This increased traffic has in turn boosted local economies that aren't typical tourist attractions", Karras added.

Those controversial "I Love NY" signs are coming down.

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