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0 Comments | Sep 05, 2018

NY to Lose Millions over I Love NY Signs

I love NY highway sign

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If you’ve been on any New York State highways or roads lately, you’ve probably seen the big, blue “I love N.Y.” signs. They’re pretty hard to miss and that is causing controversy.

From Long Island to Buffalo, the state installed more than 500 tourism signs. Now they’re at the center of a yearlong battle between Governor Andrew Cuomo and the Federal Highway Administration.

The agency says the signs are illegal because they don’t comply with federal standards: they’re too big (sizes range from 6 feet by 8 feet to as large as 10 feet by 15 feet), contain too much information (at the bottom of each sign are the state tourism office’s website – – and a promotion for the “I Love NY” app), and don’t provide any navigational information. Officials made the argument that this information, including a headline that features an italicized word, could distract drivers.

Cuomo’s administration is trying to negotiate its way out of a $14 million federal penalty that is set to become permanent at the end of the month. NY has until Sept. 30 to remove the signs to get back the $14 million in federal highway funding, which the FHA withheld in February after repeatedly warning that the signs violate federal rules and state law.

Nevertheless, the state Transportation Department has said the signs don’t pose a safety risk and there’s no evidence they’ve directly contributed to any accidents.

Cuomo launched the “I love N.Y.” Custom Sign initiative in 2013 as part of a campaign to boost the state’s $100 billion tourism industry. It cost about $8 million to install the signs, which were already a point of contention because of how much money it was going to cost tax payers.

Despite Cuomo’s assurance that the signs would be dismantled by the start of the summer vacation season, no signs have been removed. As of right now, each of the 514 signs are still erected along the 570-mile state-run New York Thruway system.