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Letter to the Editor: Potential for more billboards

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

To the editor:

Many billboards on Missouri's interstates are "nonconforming," meaning they do not comply with current spacing or size regulations. If they should come down for any reason, they are not allowed to go back up or be relocated.

The Missouri Department of Transportation is making plans to reconstruct portions of our interstates and will need to remove some of the billboards. Under current law, only conforming billboards will be permitted to relocate. If replaced, they may not be enhanced. The net result for new construction will be fewer billboards.

The Missouri Senate is debating a bill that would change all of this. The bill says that, once construction on the interstates starts, all nonconforming billboards would be "temporarily" declared to be conforming and could be relocated. If they were relocated, the bill says they could also be upgraded and would be allowed to have flashing electronic digital messaging.

If that's not enough, the billboards would have special protection from any municipal regulation. In other words, rebuilding our highways would result in more billboards, not fewer, with less regulation. And many would have flashing messages. What a sad choice for Missouri.

EUGENE B. BUSHMANN, Jefferson City, Mo.