NDDOT Wants To Charge Businesses For Highway Acknowledgement Signs


Here’s something from the “you learn something new every day” category. Anyone who has traveled America’s highways and byways is aware of those highway signs approaching exits which tell you what sort of services you can find at that exit. The sign will have logos for businesses categorized into the three staples of road trip needs: Fuel, food, and lodging.

These signs don’t exist in North Dakota, which believe it or not is something I’d never noticed before.

Highway signs to alert travels to available services, but our state’s signs indicate only if there are food/fuel/lodging services available. Not which specific businesses (Applebees, Holiday Inn, etc., etc.) are providing those services.

A bill introduced in the state Senate – SB2138 specifically – creates a legal definition for an “acknowledgement sign” along highways intended to “inform the traveling public a highway – related service or product has been sponsored by a person, firm, or entity.”

The bill, which was introduced at the request of the Department of Transportation, also authorizes that department to ” enter sponsorship agreements with sponsors to provide products or services that benefit the traveling public” with said sponsors acknowledged on “signs in the highway right of way.”

In other words, North Dakota would get those fancy signs along highways alerting you to the fact that there’s a Perkins or a Comfort Inn at the next exit.

So what’s the big deal? Well, the hospitality industry likely loves the idea since paying the DOT to put their logos on acknowledgement signs is likely to be a lot cheaper than buying billboard space. Billboard companies, on the other hand, aren’t likely to take too kindly to the DOT taking a bite out of their market.

I’m a bit torn on this bill. On one hand, I’ve always found these signs to be helpful while traveling (though less so in this age of digital navigation), but on the other hand I’m not entirely fond of the idea of government competing with the private sector.