Feds to Cuomo: Parkway Signage out of Compliance

 "Motherboard" sign on the north Moses Parkway is deemed by the Federal Highway Administration to be distracting and in violation of federal regulations.

“Motherboard” signs on the Robert Moses Parkway are deemed by the Federal Highway Administration to be distracting and in violation of federal regulations.

“Sign, sign, everywhere a sign. Blockin’ out the scenery, breakin’ my mind,” went a dopey 1970’s-era song by a group called the Five Man Electrical Band, which could reflect the regulatory mindset of the Federal Highway Administration as it attempts to rein in Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s latest “I Love NY” promotional campaign gimmick.

The feds say that hundreds of newly-erected highway signs statewide, advertising New York State tourism, including some on the Robert Moses Parkway as it approaches Niagara Falls State Park from north and east, cram together too much information, contribute to distracted driving and are not in compliance with federal traffic safety rules.

More specifically, “Some of the signs have non-conforming symbols, while others violate sign lettering and other standards,” stated a Highway Administration spokesperson.

You wouldn't want to accidentally veer a foot or two off the Moses Parkway, at the entrance to the Power Project, and collide with this solid obstacle of a sign, bolted down so as to offer maximum impact.

You wouldn’t want to accidentally veer a foot or two off the Moses Parkway, at the entrance to the Power Project, and collide with this solid obstacle of a sign, bolted down so as to offer maximum impact.

Back in 2012, we informed our readers about how the Cuomo administration had paid $5 million to Madison Avenue advertising giant BBDO to reinvent the famous “I Love NY” campaign, replacing the classic heart with various other symbols of the New York tourism industry. Around the same time the governor allocated $50 million of state budget funds to create and launch a series of TV commercials, supposedly to boost New York State’s image nationwide, but essentially to promote his candidacy for president.

514 of the signs – at a total cost of $1.76 million – have been installed along highways from scenic Montauk Point at the extreme end of Long Island up to Plattsburgh on the Canadian border and evenly spread across the state. If our math is correct, the ten new signs on the Moses Parkway cost taxpayers approximately $34,241, and according to published reports, that doesn’t include labor.

The standard configuration is to first confront the motorist with what’s been termed a “motherboard” sign, featuring the banner “The New York State Experience” above four ads for “I Love NY”, history, food and beverage and NYS Parks. The sign also highlights a mobile app symbol and website address. Very busy.

The motherboard is followed by four signs in succession down the road “Burma Shave”-style, named after the iconic signs that appeared on the nation’s highways from the 1920’s until 1966, each amplifying one of the same four themes on the motherboard.

As it is, the pattern’s reversed on the north Parkway, with the four signs jarringly just off the Power Project, while the motherboard, which appears most in violation of federal law, well past Whirlpool State Park, perhaps a concession by the state made to preclude the possibility of being blamed for yet another unfortunate traffic accident in the vicinity of the Power Vista.

While politicians like Dyster and Ceretto and the docile population of Niagara Falls always fall in line with anything and everything the state wants to do on the vast and valuable turf that comprises 80% of the city’s waterfront – including an upgrade of the south Moses Parkway, massive expansion of parking, food service and gift shop facilities in Niagara Falls State Park where eight million tourists visit and spend their money every year, and failure to deliver on Niagara Gorge reclamation and remediation by leaving the north parkway completely intact – it appears some local governments elsewhere in New York State were more protective of their scenic areas, and gave significant pushback to the DOT with regards to the obtrusive signage.

The signs were either removed or significantly scaled down in places like Montauk, Port Jefferson and Orient Point as the result of complaints from both the public and their local officials.

On the other hand, having just visited Niagara Falls a few months ago to announce the renaming of the Moses Parkway the “Niagara Scenic Parkway” to the immense gratification of Dyster, Ceretto and State Senator Robert Ortt, Gov. Cuomo’s garish new highway signs just serve to make a mockery of that name change, to the silence of our so-called leaders.

“The goal is to get people who are on the roads off the roads and into communities and fostering and promoting the economy of the State of New York,” Cuomo defended in a speech, but as it turns out, “promoting the economy” took a back seat, since the signs weren’t even manufactured here in New York.

“(T)he company that made the signs, Interstate SignWays, is in Arkansas, not New York,” reports the NY Post, “State officials say they lacked the equipment to make and install the signs fast enough themselves.” Because when King Cuomo decrees that those signs go up before the 4th of July, it better damn well happen by then.

As it stands now, in keeping with past practice with regards to anything that’s ever happened here with Niagara Falls waterfront, including the south Parkway upgrade, the Niagara Falls State Park Landscape Improvements plan, the back and forth over the disputed location of the State Parks Police barracks and Glynn’s new Maid of the Mist Winter Headquarters in the Niagara Gorge, the Cuomo administration and the Federal Highway Administration are presently huddled in secret talks where they will reach a compromise on the disputed signage, and subsequently let us know what they decide.

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