Interstate signs for services not happening anytime soon
By GARRY RAYNO
State House Bureau | October 23. 2013 8:55PM
New Hampshire is one of only five states not allowing service signs on interstate highways although they are at exit ramps.
"The New Hampshire Lodging and Restaurant Association supports SB 29 because as a state that relies heavily on tourism we must recognize that service information provided at the appropriate time while traveling our highways is one small convenience that adds to a positive visitor experience," said Mike Somers, president and CEO of the organization. "The information that would be provided through this sign program will help drive visitors to our members and ultimately generate revenue for the state."
"I oppose any expansion. Enjoying the scenic beauty of New Hampshire is the primary reason they come here," said House Minority Leader and former long-time public works chairman, Rep. Gene Chandler, R-Bartlett. "People in the North Country do not favor these types of things once you get up where the visitors come to look at our mountains and foliage."
New Hampshire is one of 45 states that participates in the federal Motorist Service Signing Program, but is the only state to prohibit the service signs on the interstate highways.
The department said the service sign program requires employees to spend time on the signs that could be better spent doing other sign work, according to Bill Lambert, state traffic engineer.
Just the exit signs would not generate enough interest for a private company to bid, Lambert told the committee.
"This is the information age. People aren't out there without resources," he said. "Lady Bird Johnson worked to get billboards off our highways, and now you're trying to put them back up again."
"Almost the entire New Hampshire tourism industry is asking us to help them at a time when it is difficult for them," Ramsey said, "It is discouraging to me. This is the second largest industry in New Hampshire and we're ignoring them."
The committee also voted to recommend that House Bill 534 be approved by the full House. The bill establishes a committee to study the sale of naming rights or sponsorships for state-owned structures such as rest areas.