A new regulation affecting a 1965 Federal Highway Act makes the Times Square signage illegal.
It is an image as American as amber waves of grain: The bright lights of Times Square in New York City.
Those bright lights are illegal, it turns out, and have been for a few years.
The neon signs that adorn the skyscrapers and theatres in the Times Square district of NYC are in violation of a federal 2012 highway spending bill that effectively put several Manhattan streets under the regulations of a 1965 Highway Beautification Act. That Act limits the size of signs along roadways.
According to WCBS in New York, federal officials have asked NYC to remove those violating signs, although the federal government is denying that report.
Business Insider contacted the Federal Highway Administration last week, and the FHA issued a statement saying it never asked the city to remove the signs or threatened legal action if the signs were not removed. In the statement to BI, the government agency said it is considering removing the signage limitation from certain roadways if asked.
But a New York City transportation official told New York media that the federal government was threatening a loss of highway money if the signs are not removed.
“All these billboards … no longer meet the Highway Beautification Act requirements, and so we’re going to have to go through some kind of a complicated process with the state to yank them off because the feds are threatening to take away 10 percent of our money,’’ said NYC Department of Transportation commissioner Polly Trottenberg to the New York CBS television outlet.
The 10 percent referenced comes to about $90 million in federal highway funding.
According to news outlet Capital New York, the intersection of Broadway and Seventh Avenue, which is the heart of Times Square, was added to the National Highway System when bill MAP-21 became law three years ago. That placed the intersection and connecting roads under the Highway Beautification Act, which states that all signs within 660 feet of a NHS-designated highway cannot be more than 1,200 square feet in size.
Department of Transportation officials said negotiations are taking place between the New York State DOT and New York City Department of Buildings to determine a solution that will allow the signage to stay where it sis.
One Times Square is the address of the building from which the New Year’s Eve ball drops. It has signage that generates more than $23 million a year in advertising revenue, according to the Wall Street Journal.
“The signs in Times Square are wonderful,’’ Trottenberg said. “They are iconic. They are not only a global tourist attraction, they are important to the economy. We are not going to be taking down the billboards in Times Square.”
Kent McDill is a staff writer for Millionaire Corner. McDill spent 30 years as a sports writer, working for United Press International and the Daily Herald of Arlington Heights, Ill. From 1988-1999, he covered the Chicago Bulls for the Daily Herald, traveling with them every day through the nine-month season. He also covered the Bulls for UPI from 1985-88, and currently covers the team for www.nba.com. He has written two books on the Bulls, including the new title “100 Things Bulls Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die’, published by Triumph Books. In August 2013, his new book “100 Things Bears Fans Should Know And Do Before They Die” gets published.
In 2008, he resigned from the Herald and became a freelance writer. The Herald hired him to write business features and speeches for the Daily Herald Business Conferences and Awards presentations.
McDill also writes a monthly parenting column for the Herald’s Suburban Parent magazine.
McDill is the father of four children, and an active fan of soccer, Jimmy Buffett and all things Disney.