A proposed resolution recommending a minimum five-year moratorium on new billboard installations and upgrades to existing billboards along Interstate 70 was introduced on Tuesday. This groundbreaking resolution (HR-4119), filed by Representative Adrian Plank (D-47) and introduced into the Missouri House of Representatives, aims to transform I-70 into a safer, more visually appealing roadway.
“This resolution brings awareness to our legislators about this unique opportunity during the I-70 rebuild period to pause and have serious discussions about the safety and visual experience of travelers on Missouri roadways,” said John Hock, president of Scenic Missouri, the regional chapter of Scenic America. The resolution is the result of a joint advocacy effort by Scenic America and Scenic Missouri that began towards the end of 2023.
Key Points of the Proposed Resolution
Missouri’s Aesthetic Opportunity:
The resolution acknowledges Missouri’s outstanding natural beauty and proposes the rebuilding of Interstate 70 as an opportunity to create a more rewarding aesthetic experience that showcases the state’s topography, cultural heritage, historical landmarks, and tourist attractions.
Billboard Overload on I-70:
Missouri currently boasts 2.5 times as many billboards per mile on I-70 than any other state along the corridor from Maryland to Utah. The resolution recognizes the need to address this overabundance and its potential impact on the state’s visual landscape.
Driver Safety Concerns:
Studies indicate that billboards, particularly digital ones, contribute to increased driver distraction. The resolution emphasizes the importance of prioritizing safety for motorists and passengers on Interstate 70.
The resolution asserts that preserving Missouri’s scenic beauty, promoting safety, encouraging tourism, and supporting economic development are valid public purposes that should be considered as the state rebuilds the deteriorating Interstate 70.
Recommendations and Establishing a Commission
The proposed resolution recommends the establishment of a minimum five-year moratorium on new billboard installations and upgrades during the reconstruction of Interstate 70. Additionally, a House Commission on Interstate 70 Beautification is to be formed, consisting of key representatives and stakeholders, tasked with studying and recommending strategies to enhance the safety and visual character of the I-70 corridor.
The resolution will now be considered by the Missouri House of Representatives, and if adopted, it will be sent to the Missouri Department of Transportation, urging the department to enforce the proposed moratorium immediately and throughout the construction period. The House Commission on Interstate 70 Beautification will play a crucial role in studying and recommending strategies to enhance the safety and visual appeal of the corridor.
Missourians eagerly await further developments as the state takes a proactive stance in balancing economic development with the preservation of its natural beauty along one of its most vital roadways.