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[Note:  Section 131 of Title 23, United States Code (1965) is commonly referred to as Title I of the Highway Beautification Act of 1965, as Amended.  It is set forth below and is current through P.L. 105-165]

 

§ 131. Control of outdoor advertising

         (a)  The Congress hereby finds and declares that the erection and maintenance of outdoor advertising signs, displays, and devices in areas adjacent to the Interstate System and the primary system should be controlled in order to protect the public investment in such highways, to promote the safety and recreational value of public travel, and to preserve natural beauty.

         (b)  Federal-aid highway funds apportioned on or after January 1, 1968, to any State which the Secretary determines has not made provision for effective control of the erection and maintenance along the Interstate System and the primary system of outdoor advertising signs, displays, and devices which are within six hundred and sixty feet of the nearest edge of the right-of-way and visible from the main traveled way of the system, and Federal-aid highway funds apportioned on or after January 1, 1975, or after the expiration of the next regular session of the State legislature, whichever is later, to any State which the Secretary determines has not made provision for effective control of the erection and maintenance along the Interstate System and the primary system of those additional outdoor advertising signs, displays, and devices which are more than six hundred and sixty feet off the nearest edge of the right-of-way, located outside of urban areas, visible from the main traveled way of the system, and erected with the purpose of their message being read from such main traveled way, shall be reduced by amounts equal to 10 per centum of the amounts which would otherwise be apportioned to such State under section 104 of this title, until such time as such State shall provide for such effective control.  Any amount which is withheld from apportionment to any State hereunder shall be reapportioned to the other States.  Whenever he determines it to be in the public interest, the Secretary may suspend, for such periods as he deems necessary, the application of this subsection to a State.

         (c)  Effective control means that such signs, displays, or devices after January 1, 1968, if located within six hundred and sixty feet of the right-of-way and, on or after July 1, 1975, or after the expiration of the next regular session of the State legislature, whichever is later, if located beyond six hundred and sixty feet of the right-of-way, located outside of urban areas, visible from the main traveled way of the system, and erected with the purpose of their message being read from such main traveled way, shall, pursuant to this section, be limited to (1) directional and official signs and notices, which signs and notices shall include, but not be limited to, signs and notices pertaining to natural wonders, scenic and historical attractions, which are required or authorized by law, which shall conform to national standards hereby authorized to be promulgated by the Secretary hereunder, which standards shall contain provisions concerning lighting, size, number, and spacing of signs, and such other requirements as may be appropriate to implement this section, (2) signs, displays, and devices advertising the sale or lease of property upon which they are located, (3) signs, displays, and devices, including those which may be changed at reasonable intervals by electronic process or by remote control, advertising activities conducted on the property on which they are located, (4) signs lawfully in existence on October 22, 1965, determined by the State, subject to the approval of the Secretary, to be landmark signs, including signs on farm structures or natural surfaces, or historic or artistic significance the preservation of which would be consistent with the purposes of this section, and (5) signs, displays, and devices advertising the distribution by nonprofit organizations of free coffee to individuals traveling on the Interstate System or the primary system.  For the purposes of this subsection, the term "free coffee" shall include coffee for which a donation may be made, but is not required.

         (d)  In order to promote the reasonable, orderly and effective display of outdoor advertising while remaining consistent with the purposes of this section, signs, displays, and devices whose size, lighting and spacing, consistent with customary use is to be determined by agreement between the several States and the Secretary, may be erected and maintained within six hundred and sixty feet of the nearest edge of the right-of-way within areas adjacent to the Interstate and primary systems which are zoned industrial or commercial under authority of State law, or in unzoned commercial or industrial areas as may be determined by agreement between the several States and the Secretary.  The States shall have full authority under their own zoning laws to zone areas for commercial or industrial purposes, and the actions of the States in this regard will be accepted for the purposes of this Act. Whenever a bona fide State, county, or local zoning authority has made a determination of customary use, such determination will be accepted in lieu of controls by agreement in the zoned commercial and industrial areas within the geographical jurisdiction of such authority.  Nothing in this subsection shall apply to signs, displays, and devices referred to in clauses (2) and (3) of subsection (c) of this section.

         (e)  Any sign, display, or device lawfully in existence along the Interstate System or the Federal-aid primary system on September 1, 1965, which does not conform to this section shall not be required to be removed until July 1, 1970.  Any other sign, display, or device lawfully erected which does not conform to this section shall not be required to be removed until the end of the fifth year after it becomes nonconforming.

         (f)  The Secretary shall, in consultation with the States, provide within the rights-of-way for areas at appropriate distances from interchanges on the Interstate System, on which signs, displays, and devices giving specific information in the interest of the traveling public may be erected and maintained.  The Secretary may also, in consultation with the States, provide within the rights-of-way of the primary system for areas in which signs, displays, and devices giving specific information in the interest of the traveling public may be erected and maintained.  Such signs shall conform to national standards to be promulgated by the Secretary.

         (g) Just compensation shall be paid upon the removal of any outdoor advertising sign, display, or device lawfully erected under State law and not permitted under subsection (c) of this section, whether or not removed pursuant to or because of this section.  The Federal share of such compensation shall be 75 per centum.  Such compensation shall be paid for the following:

(A)  The taking from the owner of such sign, display, or device of all right, title, leasehold, and interest in such sign, display, or device; and

(B)  The taking from the owner of the real property on which the sign, display, or device is located, of the right to erect and maintain such signs, displays, and devices thereon.

         (h)  All public lands or reservations of the United States which are adjacent to any portion of the Interstate System and the primary system shall be controlled in accordance with the provisions of this section and the national standards promulgated by the Secretary.

         (i)  In order to provide information in the specific interest of the traveling public, the State highway departments are authorized to maintain maps and to permit information directories and advertising pamphlets to be made available at safety rest areas.  Subject to the approval of the Secretary, a State may also establish information centers at safety rest areas and other travel information systems within the rights-of-way for the purpose of informing the public of places of interest within the State and providing such other information as a State may consider desirable. The Federal share of the cost of establishing such an information center or travel information system shall be that which is provided in section 120 for a highway project on that Federal-aid system to be served by such center or system.

         (j)  Any State highway department which has, under this section as in effect on June 30, 1965, entered into an agreement with the Secretary to control the erection and maintenance of outdoor advertising signs, displays, and devices in areas adjacent to the Interstate System shall be entitled to receive the bonus payments as set forth in the agreement, but no such State highway department shall be entitled to such payments unless the State maintains the control required under such agreement: Provided, That permission by a State to erect and maintain information displays which may be changed at reasonable intervals by electronic process or remote control and which provide public service information or advertise activities conducted on the property on which they are located shall not be considered a breach of such agreement or the control required thereunder.  Such payments shall be paid only from appropriations made to carry out this section. The provisions of this subsection shall not be construed to exempt any State from controlling outdoor advertising as otherwise provided in this section.

         (k)  Subject to compliance with subsection (g) of this section for the payment of just compensation, nothing in this section shall prohibit a State from establishing standards imposing stricter limitations with respect to signs, displays, and devices on the Federal-aid highway systems than those established under this section.

         (l)  Not less than sixty days before making a final determination to withhold funds from a State under subsection (b) of this section, or to do so under subsection (b) of section 136, or with respect to failing to agree as to the size, lighting, and spacing of signs, displays, and devices or as to unzoned commercial or industrial areas in which signs, displays, and devices may be erected and maintained under subsection (d) of this section, or with respect to failure to approve under subsection (g) of section 136, the Secretary shall give written notice to the State of his proposed determination and a statement of the reasons therefor, and during such period shall give the State an opportunity for a hearing on such determination.  Following such hearing the Secretary shall issue a written order setting forth his final determination and shall furnish a copy of such order to the State.  Within forty-five days of receipt of such order, the State may appeal such order to any United States district court for such State, and upon the filing of such appeal such order shall be stayed until final judgment has been entered on such appeal.  Summons may be served at any place in the United States.  The court shall have jurisdiction to affirm the determination of the Secretary or to set it aside, in whole or in part.  The judgment of the court shall be subject to review by the United States court of appeals for the circuit in which the State is located and to the Supreme Court of the United States upon certiorari or certification as provided in > title 28, United States Code, section 1254.  If any part of an apportionment to a State is withheld by the Secretary under subsection (b) of this section or subsection (b) of section 136, the amount so withheld shall not be reapportioned to the other States as long as a suit brought by such State under this subsection is pending.  Such amount shall remain available for apportionment in accordance with the final judgment and this subsection.  Funds withheld from apportionment and subsequently apportioned or reapportioned under this section shall be available for expenditure for three full fiscal years after the date of such apportionment or reapportionment as the case may be.

         (m)  There is authorized to be appropriated to carry out the provisions of this section, out of any money in the Treasury not otherwise appropriated, not to exceed $20,000,000 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1966, not to exceed $20,000,000 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1967, not to exceed $2,000,000 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1970, not to exceed $27,000,000 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1971, not to exceed $20,500,000 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1972, and not to exceed $50,000,000 for the fiscal year ending June 30, 1973.  The provisions of this chapter relating to the obligation, period of availability and expenditure of Federal-aid primary highway funds shall apply to the funds authorized to be appropriated to carry out this section after June 30, 1967.  Subject to approval by the Secretary in accordance with the program of projects approval process of section 105, a State may use any funds apportioned to it under section 104 of this title for removal of any sign, display, or device lawfully erected which does not conform to this section.

         (n)  No sign, display, or device shall be required to be removed under this section if the Federal share of the just compensation to be paid upon removal of such sign, display, or device is not available to make such payment.  Funds apportioned to a State under section 104 of this title shall not be treated for purposes of the preceding sentence as being available to the State for making such a payment except to the extent that the State, in its discretion, expends such funds for such a payment.

         (o)  The Secretary may approve the request of a State to permit retention in specific areas defined by such State of directional signs, displays, and devices lawfully erected under State law in force at the time of their erection which do not conform to the requirements of subsection (c), where such signs, displays, and devices are in existence on the date of enactment of this subsection and where the State demonstrates that such signs, displays, and devices (1) provide directional information about goods and services in the interest of the traveling public, and (2) are such that removal would work a substantial economic hardship in such defined area.

         (p)  In the case of any sign, display, or device required to be removed under this section prior to the date of enactment of the Federal-Aid Highway Act of 1974, which sign, display, or device was after its removal lawfully relocated and which as a result of the amendments made to this section by such Act is required to be removed, the United States shall pay 100 per centum of the just compensation for such removal (including all relocation costs).

         (q) (1)  During the implementation of State laws enacted to comply with this section, the Secretary shall encourage and assist the States to develop sign controls and programs which will assure that necessary directional information about facilities providing goods and services in the interest of the traveling public will continue to be available to motorists.  To this end the Secretary shall restudy and revise as appropriate existing standards for directional signs authorized under subsections 131(c)(1) and 131(f) to develop signs which are functional and esthetically compatible with their surroundings.  He shall employ the resources of other Federal departments and agencies, including the National Endowment for the Arts, and employ maximum participation of private industry in the development of standards and systems of signs developed for those purposes.

         (2)  Among other things the Secretary shall encourage States to adopt programs to assure that removal of signs providing necessary directional information, which also were providing directional information on June 1, 1972, about facilities in the interest of the traveling public, be deferred until all other nonconforming signs are removed.

         (r)  Removal of illegal signs.--

         (1)  By owners.--Any sign, display, or device along the Interstate System or the Federal-aid primary system which was not lawfully erected, shall be removed by the owner of such sign, display, or device not later than the 90th day following the effective date of this subsection.

         (2)  By States.--If any owner does not remove a sign, display, or device in accordance with paragraph (1), the State within the borders of which the sign, display, or device is located shall remove the sign, display, or device.  The owner of the removed sign, display, or device shall be liable to the State for the costs of such removal.  Effective control under this section includes compliance with the first sentence of this paragraph.

         (s)  Scenic byway prohibition.--If a State has a scenic byway program, the State may not allow the erection along any highway on the Interstate System or Federal-aid primary system which before, on, or after the effective date of this subsection, is designated as a scenic byway under such program of any sign, display, or device which is not in conformance with subsection (c) of this section.  Control of any sign, display, or device on such a highway shall be in accordance with this section.  In designating a scenic byway for purposes of this section and section 1047 of the Intermodal Surface Transportation Efficiency Act of 1991, a State may exclude from such designation any segment of a highway that is inconsistent with the State's criteria for designating State scenic byways.  Nothing in the preceding sentence shall preclude a State from signing any such excluded segment, including such segment on a map, or carrying out similar activities, solely for purposes of system continuity.

         (t)  Primary system defined.--For purposes of this section, the terms "primary system" and "Federal-aid primary system" mean the Federal-aid primary system in existence on June 1, 1991, and any highway which is not on such system but which is on the National Highway System.

History:

Pub. L. 85-767, Aug. 27, 1958, 72 Stat. 904
Pub. L. 86-342, Title I, § 106, Sept. 21, 1959, 73 Stat. 612
Pub. L. 87-61, Title I, § 106, June 29, 1961, 75 Stat. 123
Pub. L. 88-157, § 5, Oct. 24, 1963, 77 Stat. 277
Pub. L. 89-285, Title I, § 101, Oct. 22, 1965, 79 Stat. 1028
Pub. L. 89-574, § 8(a), Sept. 13, 1966, 80 Stat. 768
Pub. L. 90-495, § 6(a)-(d), Aug. 23, 1968, 82 Stat. 817
Pub. L. 91-605, Title I, § 122(a), Dec. 31, 1970, 84 Stat. 1726
Pub. L. 93-643, § 109, Jan. 4, 1975, 88 Stat. 2284
Pub. L. 94-280, Title I, § 122, May 5, 1976, 90 Stat. 438
Pub. L. 95-599, Title I, §§ 121, 122, Nov. 6, 1978, 92 Stat. 2700, 2701
Pub. L. 96-106, § 6, Nov. 9, 1979, 93 Stat. 797
Pub. L. 102-240, Title I, § 1046(a)-(c), Dec. 18, 1991, 105 Stat. 1995, 1996
Pub. L. 102-302, § 104, June 22, 1992, 106 Stat. 253
Pub. L. 104-59, Title III, § 314, Nov. 28, 1995, 109 Stat. 586


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