No more love for ‘I ♥ NY’ signs

February 6, 2018

Land Line Staff

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In what was a years’ long game of chicken between the state of New York and the Federal Highway Administration over “I ♥ NY” signs in the state has finally ended. New York officials announced the state will pull down the controversial signs.

In the state versus federal government showdown that goes back to 2011, FHWA had enough of the New York State Department of Transportation’s refusal to take down tourism signs that violate federal regulations. FHWA fined the state $14 million, which can be recovered if the state takes down the signs by a certain deadline.

On Thursday, Feb. 1, FHWA sent a letter notifying New York state transportation officials of its latest move regarding the I ♥ NY signs the administration considers illegal. New York will have to pay a $14 million fine. If the state removes the signs by Sept. 30, FHWA will reimburse the $14 million.

That $14 million price tag must have tested the limits of the state’s love for their signs.

Friday, Feb. 2, a joint statement from the New York Department of Transportation and the New York Thruway said the signs would be coming down. Although the statement doesn’t mention anything about the $14 million fine FHWA had slapped on the state a day earlier.

Instead the statement said the state was merely ending the I ♥ NY advertising campaign and moving on to “NY has it all!” for its next promotion.

The complete statement reads:
“The overwhelmingly successful ‘I Love NY’ campaign has supported and enhanced New York’s $105 billion tourism industry for five years. Since the Governor initiated this branding effort, the number of tourists to New York State has increased by 18 percent and the direct economic impact of tourism on the State has skyrocketed by more than 20 percent. From Greater Niagara to Long Island, ‘I Love NY’ signs have helped get motorists off the roads and into mom-and-pop restaurants, shops, and historic destinations. This increased traffic has in turn boosted local economies that aren’t typical tourist attractions.

“As the current campaign and signs are entering their fifth year, this message has run its useful course and we already plan to launch a new ‘I Love NY’ campaign this summer to support our tourism industry. The new campaign will be “‘NY has it all!’” The campaign will have, as usual, comprehensive television and print advertising, as well as new road signage. Existing materials will be reused but, as the signs will be redesigned for the new campaign, we will consult with FHWA during this process. It will be a new campaign launched for the summer tourism cycle and as such must be concluded before the September FHWA deadline anyway.”

Federal Highway Administration has not responded to the announcement as of press time.

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