ALBANY, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — The dollar signs are adding up for highway tourism signs that may have to come down.

As CBS2’s Tony Aiello reported, it has many asking – whose bright idea was this?

In a rush to put up the “I Love New York” tourism signs, New York State paid contractors overtime. It added up.

“It’s just a disregard for the taxpayer, as usual, that we see coming out of Albany, you know, where money — as if it grows on trees — we can just spend it to do all sorts of things,” said state Assemblywoman Nicole Malliotakis (R-Staten Island).

Malliotakis said it is disappointing, but not surprising.

When reporters asked in November how much the signs cost, the state said less than $2 million to make them.

On Wednesday, the Cuomo administration updated the total cost to $8.1 million. That is an average of more than $15,000 for each sign.

“That’s our all-in cost, for fabrication and installation,” said New York State Transportation Commissioner Matthew Driscoll.

Driscoll was grilled about the signs at a hearing in Albany.

The Cuomo administration installed more than 500 of them – ignoring a warning that the signs violate Federal Highway Administration standards and would be considered illegal.

The federal rules have been developed over decades. They are designed to reduce visual clutter and driver distraction.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s people are putting the best face on the dispute.

“We continue to have very positive engagement with Federal Highway and we look forward to continuing that conversation,” Driscoll said.

But there is a good chance that the feds will order the signs removed – adding who knows how much more to the cost.

More From CBS New York

CELEBRATING 50 YEARS
Get Our Morning Briefs
Bloomberg WCBS Tri-State Business Index

Watch & Listen LIVE