Highway Beautification Act of 1965 (23 USC 131)
the federal level, the Highway Beautification Act of 1965 (HBA, P. L. 89-285)
controls outdoor advertising along 306,000 miles of Federal-Aid Primary,
Interstate and National Highway System (NHS) roads. Signed into law by
President Lyndon B. Johnson on October 22, 1965, the HBA (P.L. 89-285) allows
the location of billboards in commercial and industrial areas, mandates a
state compliance program, requires the development of state standards,
promotes the expeditious removal of illegal signs, and requires just
compensation for takings.
Summary of Existing Outdoor Advertising Control
Billboards are allowed, by statute, in commercial and industrial areas
consistent with size, lighting and spacing provisions as agreed to by the
state and federal governments.
Billboard controls apply to
all Federal-Aid Primaries (FAP’s) as of June 1, 1991, Interstates and other
highways that are part of the National Highway System (NHS). The FAP routes
were highways noted by state DOTs to be of significant service value and
importance. Approximately 260,800 FAP Miles existed as of June 1, 1991
(226,440 rural miles and 34,360 urban miles). These roads have full HBA
protections and controls are very important. Maps can be obtained from your
state DOT or from the OAAA in
States have the discretion
to remove legal nonconforming signs along highways; however, the payment of
just (monetary) compensation is required for the removal of any lawfully
erected billboard along the Federal-Aid Primary, Interstate and National
Highway System roads.
States not complying with
the provisions of the HBA are subject to a 10% reduction in their highway
States and localities may
enact stricter laws than stipulated in the HBA.
No new signs can be erected
along the scenic portions of state designated scenic byways of the Interstate
and federal-aid primary highways, but billboards are allowed in segmented
areas deemed un-scenic on those routes.
Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991
ISTEA made the following
amendments to the HBA of 1965:
Illegal signs must be removed by the owner or state.
Federal-aid Primary roads were "grandfathered" for control purposes
as of June 1, 1991.
New billboards are prohibited on state designated scenic byways which are part
of the Interstate or primary highway, however, billboards are allowed in
segmented areas deemed not scenic.
addition ISTEA and subsequent HBA Amendments made federal funds available for
billboard removal and control, at the state’s discretion. Specific
discretionary ISTEA funding programs include:
- National Highway System and
Interstate System Funds were established. In 1995, the National Highway System
Designation Act approved the NHS under ISTEA. Portions of the FAP system,
Interstate highways and other key arterial highways are on the new NHS
Transportation Program - Transportation Enhancement Activities Funds. Interim
and National Scenic Byways Funds were authorized.
1995 Scenic Byways Amendment
Clinton signed into law the National Highway System Designation Act, S. 440
(PL 104-59), on November 28, 1995. Its major provisions included the repeal of
federal laws governing speed limits and motorcycle helmet requirements, a new
"zero tolerance" drunk driving standard for young drivers and the
designation of a 160,000 mile National Highway System for prioritizing federal
funding in the future.
An amendment to subsection
(s) of the Highway Beautification Act of 1965 was also included. The scenic
byways provision (which had been added to the HBA in 1991) was amended to give
states the flexibility to exclude from state or federal scenic byways
designation any segment of a road that it determines to be inconsistent with
the state's criteria for designating scenic byways.
NHS House-Senate Conference Committee agreed to amend the HBA of 1965 to
clarify that the erection of new billboards in certain "segmented"
areas along state or federal designated scenic byways was acceptable so long
as the state's determination is reasonable. It codified the FHWA policy
adopted in 1993. Rep. Bud Shuster, Chairman of the House Transportation and
Infrastructure Committee, inserted into the record a Virginia DOT plan for
determining areas along a state byway which are inconsistent with state
criteria. This plan was intended to provide an example where a state made a
reasonable basis for excluding certain segments of a scenic byway.
21 (Transportation Equity Act for the 21st Century)
21 (P.L. 105-178) was signed into law on June 9, 1998. It authorized
guaranteed spending levels for highway, safety, transit and other surface
transportation programs for the next six years. It builds on the initiatives
of the ISTEA Act of 1991.
the first time in more than 30 years, no billboard amendments were offered or
Control Mileage Under HBA
Total Interstate, Federal-aid primary highways (as of June 1, 1991) and the
system is 306,000 miles.
Total number of National Highways System (NHS) miles (as of October 1995 when
the NHS was enacted) is 156,500. Of those, 110,700 are NHS roads,
and 45,800 are on the Interstate highways.
Outdoor advertising controls are established by rural and urban area
The urban area boundary definition is established in the statute to be 5,000
or more in population.
The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) in its Nationwide Statistical Report
on the outdoor advertising control program reports that there are nearly
875,000 fewer signs along controlled highways since enactment of the Highway
Beautification Act in 1965.
statistics as of 9/30/96 show:
Over 127,000 legal nonconforming compensable signs have been removed.
Fewer than 74,000 legal nonconforming signs remain.
Nearly 750,000 illegal signs have been removed by owners or the government, or
98% or all illegal signs.
Approximately 14,600 illegal signs remain to be removed (reports show most are
not standardized billboards but agriculture and farm signs.)
and State Enforcement
U.S. Department of Transportation, through its Federal Highway Administration
(FHWA), provides outdoor advertising program guidance at the federal level. At
the state level, each state's Department of Transportation administers and
enforces outdoor advertising Permit programs, monitors the erection and
maintenance of billboards, and provides statistics on nonconforming and
illegal sign removals.
1958, Congress passed the first outdoor advertising control legislation
commonly known as the "Bonus Act", PL 85-381. It was repealed and
replaced by the Highway Beautification Act of 1965, and is now found in the
United States Code at 23 U.S.C. 131 (j). Its provisions still exist by reason
of agreements with the states.
Bonus Act provided an incentive to states to control outdoor advertising
within 660 feet of the Interstate highway system. States that volunteered for
the program would receive a bonus of one-half of one percent of the Federal
highway construction costs on segments of Interstate highways controlling
existing Bonus program is an unfunded Federal mandate since no Federal funds
can be used to pay states for the stricter control requirements along the
amendments were adopted which allowed outdoor advertising along portions of
Interstate highways. The first amendment was known as the "Cotton
Amendment", which exempted any areas adjacent to part of a right-of-way,
acquired prior to July 1, 1956. This allowed billboards in areas adjacent to
interchanges, overpasses, and along roads that ran parallel to the Interstate.
second, known as the "Kerr Amendment", allowed outdoor advertising
signs in commercial and industrial zones. Incorporated municipal boundaries
were frozen as of September 21, 1959 (the date of the amendment). Another
feature of the Kerr Amendment was that outside city limits, signs were
permitted only in commercial or industrial zones as of September 21, 1959. In
effect the zones were frozen. Inside city boundaries, zoning was not frozen
for purposes of outdoor advertising control.
Enacting Bonus Act Provisions
following twenty-five states enacted laws to implement the "Bonus"
, dropped the bonus program;
by court decision and
Bonus Act standards
are set out at Title 23, Code of Federal Regulations, Part 750, Subpart A.
Source: OAAA (Outdoor
Advertising Association of America, Inc.)