Billboards and Roadside Controls

March 6, 1957

Report Outline
Federal Role In Roadside Protection
Stature of Outdoor Advertising Industry
Regulation of Lands Bordering Highways

Federal Role In Roadside Protection

New steam has been put into an old controversy by the gigantic program of road construction authorized by Congress last year. It has to do with the use of land abutting the highways for advertising signs and commercial structures which may despoil the landscape, reduce traffic capacity of the roadway, and add to the hazards of driving.

The Federal Aid Highway Act of 1956 contemplates the completion within 13 years of a 41,000-mile network of unobstructed super-roads linking major population centers. Congress authorized federal appropriations of $26 billion for the interstate system alone, designed to cover 90 per cent of the total construction cost, and an additional $2.5 billion of federal aid for other roads. Now the question is raised whether Congress put enough safeguards into the law to protect this vast public improvement against the deterioration brought on by roadside abuses.

Impending Struggle Over Federal Regulation

The projected interstate system will be made up of expressways which can be entered only from specially constructed access roads. Application of the limited-access principle will prevent the cropping up of such commercial structures as usually border much-traveled roads. But business enterprises are likely to cluster as closely as possible to the access points, where they will be visible from the highway, and there is nothing in existing federal law to prevent owners of lands adjoining the highway from selling or leasing locations to advertisers for erection of billboards.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Highways and Roads
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Sep. 11, 2017  Infrastructure
Jun. 06, 2016  Infrastructure
May 04, 2012  Distracted Driving
Sep. 28, 2007  Aging Infrastructure Updated
Oct. 06, 2000  Drunken Driving
Mar. 12, 1999  Truck Safety
Jul. 14, 1995  Highway Safety
Oct. 09, 1981  Interstate Highway System at Twenty-Five
May 05, 1965  Highway Design and Beautification
Sep. 02, 1960  Progress of the Road Program
Mar. 06, 1957  Billboards and Roadside Controls
Dec. 13, 1954  New Highways
Jul. 25, 1939  Prevention of Highway Accidents
May 13, 1935  Elimination of Highway Grade Crossings
Dec. 24, 1932  Federal Highway Aid and the Depression
Apr. 30, 1931  Billboards and Roadside Improvement
Feb. 14, 1929  Toll Bridges and Toll Roads
Jul. 11, 1927  Ten Years of Federal Aid in Road Building
Motor Traffic and Roads