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'I Love New York' Signs Put Federal Highway Funding In Jeopardy

LONG ISLAND, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) -- The federal government is threatening to pull New York's funding for highway and bridge projects because of the big, blue "I Love New York" tourism signs that are popping up along highways.

When the "I Love New York" campaign was first unveiled, CBS2 measured the towering signs, which stood as tall as 25 feet, Jennifer McLogan reported.

"They are crazy about signs around here," one resident said.

Town supervisors on Long Island's east end pronounced them an aesthetic eyesore, demanding the state remove them from North and South Fork's bucolic vistas.

Their demands caught the attention of the federal government, which a spokesman said was initially unaware that New York had gone ahead with its plan to install 515 signs along state roads at a cost of $1.67 million.

The highway administration spokesman also said that when the state first asked for permission to put up the signs, the federal office of operations denied the request.

The signs were deemed unsafe and violated federal and state laws, because they distracted drivers, were filled with too much information and were considered advertisements, the spokesman said.

Now, the federal government is threatening to cut off state funding for highway and bridge projects if all of the signs aren't removed.

"They have an issue with where the signs were placed and the configuration," New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said. "I don't know the details of it, but whatever it is, we will work it out."

Cuomo said the campaign is working extraordinarily well to promote the state's multi-billion dollar tourism industry.

Taxpayers are split on the signs.

"I am extremely proud of New York and I love to see more people enjoy when I am enjoying every single day," Smithtown resident John Robertson said.

"The money could have been better spent on road improvements, education, welfare or anything else but those signs," Richard Pecchio, of Miller Place, said.

The governor vowed to work things out with the Federal Highway Administration so the state doesn't lose any funding.

The administration said it wants to know when the signs will be removed.

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