Outdoor Advertising Report: Changeable Message Signs

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Outdoor Advertising Report: Changeable Message Signs
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    Final Report
  • Abstract:
    The California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) has prepared this report in response to Senate Bill 853 (Committee on Budget and Fiscal Review, Chapter 27, Statutes of 2014) regarding advertising on changeable message signs (CMS) on the State highway system. The report examines only the feasibility of conducting a pilot to place commercial outdoor advertising on State-owned CMS and includes net revenue estimates for such an effort. The report identifies the critical factors and approaches for developing a comprehensive pilot program from a historical and contemporary perspective. It provides a potential business model to be evaluated to accomplish the anticipated and appropriate cost recovery for Caltrans personnel and oversight of the construction and maintenance of CMS activated by the private industry partner as well as the operation of the CMS locations in the demonstration project, while generating the highest possible net revenue. In addition, the report examines the potential of advertising revenues to fund the next generation of CMS at existing and planned locations. The conclusion is that it could be feasible to conduct a pilot project on CMS. A pilot project would allow the State to evaluate any potential safety implications and assess how much potential revenue could be generated to support CMS infrastructure and the State highway system as a whole. There are significant challenges to implement a pilot project including concerns of safety to the traveling public, local agency, community approval, and operational impacts to the State highway system. In addition, Caltrans does not have the State or the federal authority to move forward with this project. A waiver or exemption would be needed from portions of the federal outdoor advertising regulations, the California Outdoor Advertising Act (OAA), and sections of the Federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices. It should be noted that if a pilot occurs, there is no guarantee this proposed initiative would go beyond the pilot.
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