Billboards Are Not A Benefit In Wisconsin
There are reasons to prevent more off-premises advertising signs (billboards) along highways in Wisconsin
Billboards don’t exist in harmony with natural scenery like farms and forests. They are intended to grab your attention with a commercial message, and that ruins your enjoyment of the peaceful beauty of our state.
1. There is no longer a need for billboards as a travel aid. Technology has rendered roadside billboards irrelevant to the traveling public. Smart phones and dashboard GPS are in widespread use. These devices provide complete information that travelers need, lists of hotels and services at any location with road maps showing how to get there.
2. The idea that billboards are necessary to doing business is simply not valid. Many cities in this state simply don’t allow billboards because they are an unsightly nuisance. Eight states in the US restrict or completely prohibit the use of billboards. There are very few billboards in western European countries.
3. Billboards are detrimental to tourism because they mar the scenery. They demand your attention and impose a commercial message. They are visual pollution that impacts everyone who lives, works or vacations in our uniquely beautiful state.
4. A billboard may sell more of one brand compared to another, but there’s no doubt that the people of Wisconsin are getting every bit of the products and services that they need, be it automobiles, insurance or soda pop, and will continue to without billboards.
5. It costs the DoT millions of dollars each year to buy out billboards to make way for highway widening or re-routing. Less billboards near highway right-of-way will result in a reduction of this expense to taxpayers.
6. Billboards distract drivers’ attention and there is evidence that they are a factor in some highway accidents.
7. Outdoor advertising companies have no constitutional right to use the roadways in our state as advertising corridors.
Most cities in the State of Wisconsin have been improving their sign ordinances and limiting size and placement of billboards (off-premise advertising signs) to keep their communities attractive. (Communities with Good Sign Management.) We need to bring state signage regulations up to date, so that a few cities don’t continue to allow rows of giant billboards along major highways that we all have to look at.
Billboard blight has been with us since the beginning of the highway age, and billboards are getting bigger, taller and more intrusive. Especially obnoxious now are electronic billboards with bright messages changing every few seconds.
We the people of Wisconsin have the right to determine the way we want our state to look and now is the time to take action against billboards.
States with Good Billboard Regulation
Seven states have strong laws that limit the use of billboard. Please see our article (.pdf) on the subject here.
Cities in Wisconsin with Good Billboard Regulation
Many cities in Wisconsin recognize the need to limit the proliferation of billboards:
Here a list we keep of those cities (.pdf).
Nothing destroys the distinctive character of our communities and the natural beauty of our countryside more than signs and billboards, the junk mail of the American highway.
Read more on Scenic America’s website.
Wisconsin Government Reference
Outdoor Advertising Laws in Wisconsin
Wis Statute 84.30 “Regulation of Outdoor Advertising”
Wis Statute 84.305 “Vegetation Obstructing the View of Outdoor Advertising”
Visit the Wisconsin State Legislative website. Go to “laws and Legislation”.
Wis Administrative Code Chapter Trans 201 “Control of Outdoor Advertising Along and Visible from Highways of the Interstate and Federal-Aid Primary Systems.”
Visit the Wisconsin State Legislative website. Go to “Administrative Rules”.
Visit the Wisconsin State Legislative website. Go to “Find Your Legislator.”
Policy Statements from Scenic Wisconsin
Please visit Scenic America here.
History of Scenic Wisconsin
Charles Mitchell’s Anecdotal History of Citizens for a Scenic Wisconsin (.pdf)