Texas billboards avoid death sentence

| 6/16/2003

Roadside billboards commonplace on Texas roadways were able to avoid extinction during the recently completed legislative session.

Before the Legislature adjourned June 2, State lawmakers failed to pass either of two bills – SB512 and HB994 – that would have prohibited new billboards from being erected and prevented old ones from being replaced along any road or highway in the state.

Proponents say the ban would protect the environment and make Texas more attractive for visitors and businesses, the Austin American-Statesman reported.

Almost 200 Texas cities have already outlawed new billboards. And five states – Maine, Rhode Island, Vermont, Alaska and Hawaii – have already made their roads a no-advertising zone.

Statewide, there are reportedly more than 30,000 billboards, ranking third in the nation, and the Texas Department of Transportation issues 550 new permits a year.

Supporters of the ban dismissed suggestions that the roadside ads – which have been around at least since motor vehicles took to the road – are an important part of American culture and are a service to drivers that should be protected, the newspaper reported.

Instead, they say the boards obstruct the state’s scenic views.