Gov. M. Jodi Rell's proposal to eliminate billboards on state-owned property might have limited immediate impact. But if her plan is approved by the General Assembly, it will be setting an example that municipalities and others who harbor the giant signs should follow.
Billboards litter Connecticut's landscape and create distractions for drivers. The new generation of electronic billboards, traffic experts say, are particularly troublesome because their ever-changing messages for multiple sponsors draw the eye off the road more than once.
Moreover, there's no way of protecting children from viewing offensive signs that advertise sex-oriented establishments, alcohol consumption, smoking and gambling.
Under Gov. Rell's plan, no new contracts for billboards on state-owned property would be permitted and existing contracts would be allowed to expire. Permits for electronic billboards would also be discontinued.
A spokesman for Ms. Rell said that, in all, her proposal would eliminate 123 signs, primarily along I-84, I-91 and I-95, from which the state derives only about $80,000 a year in revenue.
Many highway billboards are unfortunately on municipal or private property and are unaffected by the governor's proposal. The entrances to Hartford are plagued with them.
Municipalities should follow the governor's lead and examine whether the income derived from billboards is worth the clutter they create.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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