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Huge Times Square Billboards May Be Nixed for 'Beautification'

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A seemingly unnecessary battle is underway in Times Square, and it could result in the tourist trap area losing its iconic billboards. Capital NY reports that the Department of Transportation is under federal pressure to remove the massive billboards that hang along Broadway and Seventh Avenue because they exceed the 1965 Highway Beautification Act, which limits signage within 660 feet of a highway to 1,200 square feet. Up until a few years ago, the roadways were not under the jurisdiction of the act, but the 2012 transportation spending act MAP-21 placed a bunch of new roads on the National Highways System, including Broadway and Seventh Avenue. These roads now must meet federal requirements or the government will take away 10 percent of a state's highway funds.

The DOT wants to keep the signs in place, and commissioner Polly Trottenberg is pretty annoyed about the whole thing. "We're going to have to go through kind of a complicated process with the state to yank them off because the feds are threatening to take away 10 percent of our money," she said. The DOT is working to find a solution with the New York State Department of Transportation, as well as the city Department of Buildings Considering, but they haven't found one yet. Considering the original act was largely intended to protect rural areas—and removing a few signs would hardly "beautify" Times Square—this all seems like a huge waste of everyone's time.
· Federal act pressures city to remove oversize Times Square billboards [Capital]
· All Times Square coverage [Curbed]