If you start to head out of town, you may notice those blue signs telling you what restaurants, gas stations and hotels are at the next exit. It's been working in rural Arizona for years, but now the state wants to bring that advertising to a highway near you.
"From a reach or advertising value standpoint, there are a lot more people, a lot more drivers, a lot more road miles within the urban areas," said Will Holden, the CEO of Grand Canyon State Logo Signs, which is operated by the Arizona Department of Transportation. He said the state has pinpointed 300 highway exits in busy cities throughout the state, where they'll install more signs telling drivers what restaurants, gas stations, pharmacies and other businesses are nearby.
"It provides a very cost-effective way for businesses, in many cases smaller businesses, to advertise and promote their own businesses," Holden said.
ADOT said only up to 6 qualified, travel-related businesses will get a spot on one of these signs, and they will open it up to a competitive bidding process in the near future.
"Not only do the individual businesses have an opportunity to increase their business through the advertising vehicle but the communities have an opportunity to enjoy greater tax revenue, greater economic development revenue," Holden said.
The state hopes to make $8 million to $10 million a year through advertising, which will go into the state highway fund to build, repair and maintain roads. But are all these signs worth it?
"You may disagree, I may disagree, on what constitutes art, but the fact of the matter is the signs are designed to provide information to drivers," Holden said.
"I don't think I'd use them too much because locally, I know where all the restaurants are that I like to go to," said Georgann Vanderjagt.
"I don't know with traffic, it might be a distraction, a lot to look at," said Juan Astiazaran.
Some municipalities will have a say whether those blue signs are also on city roads, but if they're state roads or highways, we will start to see them this October. Holden said they're following all guidelines to make sure they're safe. ADOT held two public meetings about this, and only one person showed up to each.
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