Gov.: Digital Ads on Freeways Could Drive Down Debt

Schwarzenegger wants to sell ad space on electronic signs

By Jessica Greene
|  Friday, Feb 5, 2010  |  Updated 2:30 PM PDT
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Gov.: Digital Ads on Freeways Could Drive Down Debt

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Four accidents in seven minutes. Gee whiz.

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If Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger's latest plan to help get the state's budget on track goes into effect, the state's highways could become a lot more colorful.

Schwarzenegger wants to turn overhead freeway signs into electronic advertising billboards. The plan calls for replacing the Amber Alert signs and traffic updates with huge color screens that would display advertisements. The state currently operates 708 electronic signs on highways, the Sacramento Bee tells us.

The ads could generate much-needed funds for the state but the idea is getting a lot of reaction from people who suggest the signs would be too distracting for drivers. The U.S. Department of Transportation woud have to approve the plan.

Under the proposal, which is classified as "experimental," the state would be allowed to contract out the highway signs for up to 20 years. It could drive as much as $2 billion over 20 years from 500 message boards, according to an estimate from the administration. The Department of Finance has not yet estimated how much money the plan would generate.

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