Highway Signage Bill Moves Forward
Many attractions, lodging and restaurant properties utilize the blue highway signs advertising their business to travelers across Wyoming. According to the Wyoming Department of Transportation, the state has been losing approximately 43,000 annually with the program. Additionally, WYDOT reports that 53% of the signs are in critical condition and need replacement. As a result of this shortfall and need for repair and maintenance, WYDOT invited all participating businesses as well as the public to attend four public meetings held around the state to discuss and seek a solution.
After gathering feedback from these four meetings, WYDOT determined that a fee increase and a game plan for repairing or replacing the worst signs were both needed. Of the options suggested the most popular industry solution suggested the contracting out some of the repair and maintenance with WYDOT maintaining oversight of the program. The proposed increases and timeline are as follows.
- $200.00 Administration Fee per direction
- $200.00 Maintenance Fee per direction
- Maintenance Fee reduced ½ by year 4
- Worst signs replaced within a 3 year period
- Programmed sign replacement
The Joint Transportation, Highways and Military Affairs Committee met this week in Riverton to discuss WYDOT’s findings. After hearing testimony from WYDOT and the Wyoming Lodging and Restaurant Association the committee decided to move forward with a committee bill addressing the issue.
A troublesome component of the bill requires a “competitive bid process” in the event that specific signs have more applications for participation than the sign can advertise. The specific language states “In addition to the fee structure, the department shall attempt to generate revenue by adopting a biding procedure whereby specific service signing rights are awarded to the highest bidder in a competitive bidding process.”
Despite testimony from the WLRA stating that this process would strongly favor larger businesses and essentially eliminate smaller businesses from participating in some cases, the committee moved the bill forward for attempted introduction at the 2014 budget session this February (all bills require a 2/3 vote for introduction during a budget session.)
Your association is monitoring this bill closely, will continue to lobby against the competitive bidding process and will continue to seek a solution that keeps cost increases reasonable while also adding efficiency to the repair and maintenance of these highway signs.