Don't encourage billboard clutter
The Kansas City Star
A bill opening up Missouri’s highways to a garish expansion of digital billboards has returned this session after Gov. Jay Nixon vetoed a similar version last year.
Legislation has already passed the Senate and is headed for the House floor. Its authors have deleted a provision that Nixon cited as objectionable — a restriction on local governments prohibiting billboards. But that doesn’t mean this bill is good for Missouri.
It would clear the way for hundreds of billboards to be converted to digital advertisements. Current law says only billboards that comply with all federal and state rules can be digital. Senate Bill 607 would roll back the compliance date to Aug. 27, 1999 — one day before double-stacked signs were outlawed. It would also allow digital advertising on signs that are less than 500 feet apart.
The billboard industry has fought hard for this bill. While printing a traditional billboard sign can cost $1,000 and up, signs can be created digitally through a computer file for much less.
Industry advocates say the high cost of converting a billboard to digital will prevent a proliferation. But opponents note that the cost can be expected to drop, as digital becomes the preferred method.
The bottom line is that Missouri has too many billboards. They have turned Interstate 70 into a visual nightmare and have created the wrong impression of Missouri as an unappealing state to drive through.
Legislation should be aimed at reducing billboard clutter, not lighting it up with digital bells and whistles.