NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — A road sign dispute is being waged between Albany and Washington.

Federal highway officials still want the ‘I Love New York’ promotional signs removed, maintaining that they continue to be a safety issue.

As CBS2’s Jennifer McLogan reported, the state spent $8-million on the tourism campaign.

The signs are meant to lure tourists to New York — the state spent millions, hoping to get back billions from visitor spending — but the sign campaign could end up as an ugly, taxpayer boondoggle.

The Federal Highway Administration said a concrete plan from the Cuomo administration is two months overdue. They want to know how New York will remove 514 oversized ‘I Love New York’ signs which have been deemed illegal, and were installed at a cost of $8.1-million over objections from Washington.

“They have an issue with where the signs are placed, and the configuration, whatever it is we will work it out,” Governor Andrew Cuomo said.

From the beginning, Governor Cuomo has maintained that there is no controversy. Yet the federal agency is ‘concerned’ saying the signs are unsafe — contain too much information, and are a distraction to drivers.

One town leader called the signs inappropriate and useless.

“They are out-sized, absolutely out of proportion, and in fact they’re misplaced,” Southold Town Supervisor Scott Russell said.

Several signs in Orient, Montauk, and Port Jefferson were ordered removed by town supervisors, but hundreds of others remain despite threatened cuts to federal highway dollars if they don’t come down.

“I’d want to see data there was an increase in accidents as a result of these signs before you take them down,” Tina Fuchs said.

Others wonder if the funds could have gone to something else.

“The money could have been better spent on road improvements, education, welfare, on anything else but those signs,” Richard Pecchio said.

New York State said it’s involved in ongoing conversations with federal highway to develop an experimental proposal to achieve compliance.

Part of the reason the signs failed federal scrutiny is because they offer no navigational information for motorists as required — a highway official explained — the signs are just advertisements.

New York State transportation officials said they are proud of the tourism campaign and have heard from countless drivers who love the colorful signs.

 

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