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'I Love NY' signs to be modified as state avoids federal fine

The state Department of Transportation and the Federal Highway Administration reached agreement Friday on an unspecified future modification of state promotional signs on the Thruway and other highways that violate federal sign regulations.

A spokesman for the administration of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo said the agreement came in time to meet a Sunday deadline set by the FHA, which was prepared to reduce New York's highway aid by $14 million as a penalty for the "I Love New York," "Taste of New York" and "Pathways Through History" signs.

As far back as 2011, the federal agency told the DOT and the Thruway Authority that the signs were too big and contained too much information, allegedly creating a dangerous distraction for drivers.

However, the signs will not come down, at least for the time being. Instead, DOT Commissioner Paul Karas and Thruway Authority Director Matthew Driscoll promised "an innovative experimental project to allow tourism signage to highlight cultural, historic, and other significant state attractions off the highway system. ... We will submit a final plan on this new project in the coming months."

The officials said a new ad campaign will be created, including cellphone apps that will coordinate with road signs.

The signs were erected in an effort to further promote tourist attractions and local businesses. About 540 "I Love New York" signs were posted at a cost of $8.1 million, DOT officials said during a 2017 State Legislature hearing.

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