Don't let billboards ruin our landscape

Industry pressing TxDOT to allow unlimited heights for eyesore advertising
"We have placed a wall of civilization between us and the beauty of our countryside. In our eagerness to expand and improve, we have relegated nature to a weekend role, banishing it from our daily lives. I think we are a poorer nation as a result. I do not choose to preside over the destiny of this country and to hide from view what God has gladly given.” — Lyndon B. Johnson, on passage of Highway Beautification Act

The specter of giant billboards polluting our beautiful Hill Country landscape has again been raised.

Unless there is a show of strong public support against it, the Texas Department of Transportation’s proposed rules will change maximum billboard height from the current 42.5 feet to 85 feet — a doubling of ugliness in one fell swoop. This is urgent, folks.

There is a clandestine campaign backed by billboard industry people asking TxDOT commissioners to allow “unlimited heights,” according to Margaret Lloyd, vice president of Scenic Texas, a group dedicated to keeping Texas roads free of the visual clutter.

This new rule would apply to 15,000 of the existing 20,000 billboards in Texas (some are controlled by municipal rules).

Imagine driving out US 290 to visit Fredericksburg and seeing our limestone hills dwarfed by 85-foot behemoths hawking cheap restaurants and cell phones. It is an ugly scenario that will ruin much of what is unique about this area, all to please an industry that does nothing for local causes and cares not one whit about anyone’s aesthetic experience.

It also goes without saying that billboards are some of the worst violators of sending bright lights into our night skies, blotting out the stars we cherish.

From a Houston Chronicle editorial: “You wouldn’t put an ad on the Alamo. You wouldn’t slap a bumper sticker on the back of the Battleship Texas. And we shouldn’t put any more billboards across the great Texas sky. In a world where nearly every surface and experience is an opportunity to sell advertising, our legislators should stand up for the right for Texans to gaze freely upon the bounty

between the Red River and Rio Grande and ensure that the natural beauty of the Lone Star State isn’t up for negotiation.”

Write your TxDOT commissioners and express your concern (or outrage) that this could be allowed to happen throughout our beautiful Hill Country. People got fired up about the possibility of windmills dotting the landscape, so don’t pass on this opportunity to stop what is essentially litter. 
The new height allowances will serve no public purpose and it will create new driver distractions. It will benefit one industry only.  

TxDOT is mandated to regulate this industry, not accommodate it. Take action and send a message we don’t want this roadside garbage messing up our scenic landscape. 
Want to talk about “Messing with Texas”? The billboard industry is doing just that. – K.E.C.

THIS IS URGENT
Submit your comments to TxDOT Commissioners by 5 p.m. Monday, Oct. 16.

Texas Department of Transportation
Rule Comments
General Counsel Division
125 East 11th Street
Austin, Texas 78701-2483

or Email to RuleComments@txdot.gov

Re: Commercial Sign Rules – Section 21.189, Billboard Height 

Include name, address, phone number or email, a description of your comment or concern and any background (such as that included in this editorial). Ask for the specific action you are requesting of commissioners, which is to deny this change to billboard regulations.

 

For more on this story, read this week’s print and online editions of the Fredericksburg Standard-Radio Post. If you are a print subscriber, your full online subscription is free. All you need to do is call 830-997-2155 to get a password. If you are not a subscriber, call 997-2155 or click on the ‘Subscribe’ button on the left side of the home page and sign up today!

Fredericksburg Standard

P.O. Box 1639
Fredericksburg, TX 78624-4228
830-997-2155