Outdoor signs are a powerful marketing tool. As the advertising firms Philip Morris Media and Leo Burnett put it, “outdoor can’t be beat. You can’t zap it … you can’t put it aside, turn the page, or toss it … you can’t turn it off, turn it down, or tune it out.”

Billboards’ effectiveness is reflected in the vast number found in the Texas landscape: estimated at 35,000, growing by over 550 per year. Still, polls suggest that they are disliked by 85% of the public, with critics describing them as “sky trash” and “litter on a stick”.

Frustrated with federal sign regulation under the Highway Beautification Act, more than 260 Texas towns have passed their own ordinances banning billboard construction, while the State of Texas has declared a number of rural roads to be sign-free.


Carroll Shaddock, a veteran billboard critic, explains some of the rationale against private outdoor signs on public roadways.


Map source:

White, Greg. 2015. Compliance Agent, Outdoor Regulatory Program, Right of Way Division, Texas Department of Transportation. Personal communication, April.

Selected references:

Floyd, Charles. 1982. “Requiem for the Highway Beautification Act”, in Journal of the American Planning Association. Autumn.

Nowlin, Caroline. 2012. “Hey! Look at Me: A Glance at Texas’ Billboard Regulation and Why All Roads Lead to Compromise”, in Texas Tech Law Review, Vol. 44, pp. 429-461.

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