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Above the Law Report Sarah Richards – 2/18/13

Scenic Philadelphia Press Release

PHILADELPHIA, February 20, 2013    Above the Law and Under the Radar: The Philadelphia Billboard Industry’s Failure to Comply with Local, State, and Federal Laws identifies over 100 billboards located along Philadelphia’s federal aid highways in violation of the Highway Beautification Act (HBA).  This widespread failure to comply with the HBA is expected to trigger a Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) audit and possible penalties which could cost the City millions of dollars in lost federal-aid highway funding unless the billboard structures and sign faces are brought into compliance.

The Report focused on billboards located within city limits along the I-95 and I-676 highways and several along I-76.  In total, 183 billboard structures, supporting 331 sign faces located within 660 feet of these highways were analyzed for compliance.  Research revealed that only 18 percent of the billboards in the study were in compliance with all local, state, and federal regulations, and had valid permits
Hundreds of billboards in Philadelphia are located along Federal and Primary-Aid highways.  This report is intended to help the City identify those billboards which should be removed due to their noncompliance due to the serious risk they pose for future loss of federal-aid highway funding.

Mary Tracy, executive director of Scenic Philadelphia said the timing of the report is perfect. “City Council is about to introduce legislation for outdoor advertising signs and hopefully they will use this data to take appropriate action.”

Sarah Richards, the author of Above the Law and Below the Radar is in her final year of the University of Pennsylvania’s Master of City Planning program in the Graduate School of Design. She was the recipient of a Samuel F. Fels Summer Internship Research Grant.