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Keep billboards off Utah’s scenic byways


The dramatic changes to the State Scenic Byway Program proposed in SB28 do not serve the interests and preferences of Scenic Byway stakeholders, nor Utahns in general.

(Francisco Kjolseth | The Salt Lake Tribune) People take in the fall color along the Alpine Loop Scenic Byway in the Uinta National Forest on Wednesday, Sept. 30, 2020.

Proposed changes to the Utah State Scenic Byway Program outlined in SB28 offer a poorly conceived solution to an issue fabricated by Utah’s outdoor advertising lobby.

The outdoor advertising needs on Utah’s byways are being met, and SB28 should not receive a favorable recommendation from any legislative committee or, worse, be signed into law by Gov. Spencer Cox.

In 2015, I worked closely with my Rep. Mike Noel and Sen. Kevin Van Tassel to enable legislation allowing Tourism Oriented Directional Signage (TODS) on byways in Utah. The program adopted by UDOT, provided Utah businesses and attractions located adjacent to scenic byways the opportunity to effectively and affordably advertise on the byways. The program is working as intended.

The dramatic changes to the State Scenic Byway Program proposed in SB28 do not serve the interests and preferences of scenic byway stakeholders, nor Utahns in general. This legislation is about outdoor advertising, which is restricted for a good reason on Utah’s byways. Making every opportunity available for every business is not the goal of the Scenic Byway Program.

The Utah Office of Tourism and Utah Department of Transportation effectively manage stakeholder interests in Utah’s Scenic Byways. The addition of an outdoor advertising representative on a pared down committee can only lead to conflict between the nationally recognized byways that restrict billboards, in favor of Utah’s epic scenery, and the outdoor advertising companies lobbying for the passage of this legislation in the…

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