Maine overhauls interstate road signage rule

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Tuesday, May 06, 2014

Highway users in Maine might soon notice fewer, or smaller, road signs while driving through the state.

Gov. Paul LePage signed a bill into law that is intended to protect about $170 million in federal highway funds by ensuring that signage along the Maine Turnpike, Interstates 95 and 295 adhere to federal rules.

Previously LD1831, the new law puts in place a five-year plan to remove, relocate or replace more than 200 signs advertising everything from schools to beaches. Some new signs can also be added.

Schools with fewer than 1,000 students and national parks further than 100 miles from an exit are included on the list to have signs removed. In certain instances, smaller signs will be posted that abide by federal rules.

Opponents said the changes would hurt the state economy.

“In a state that prides itself as a ‘vacationland,’ these directional signs support our communities in important ways,” Sen. Tom Winsor, R-Norway, told the Joint Committee on Transportation during recent discussion.

Peter Mills, executive director of the Maine Turnpike Authority, said traffic signs are supposed to “aid confused motorists.”

“Highway signs are not for promotion – no matter how worthwhile the entity being promoted,” Mills testified.

The Maine Department of Transportation and Maine Turnpike Authority are responsible for removing signs that do not comply with the new law by 2019.

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