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History of Outdoor Advertising Statutes in Alaska
First outdoor advertising statute passed by Territorial Legislature. Defines outdoor advertising; exempts political advertising from ban. "The term "outdoor advertising" as used in this Act, shall include all commercial advertising so displayed as to attract the attention of persons on any public highway or while in a vehicle of a common carrier, or in any station, public building, park or other public place, whether such advertising be by means of printing, writing, painting, pictures, or a combination thereof, and whatever be the means of display, except that it shall not include advertising located within incorporated towns nor upon private property in rural areas and relating exclusively to the business conducted on such property or the sale or rental thereof, or directional signs on the public domain pertaining to and within 2500 feet of such rural business."
Territorial Legislature amends outdoor advertising statute by removing political advertising exemption and establishes sign program for rural businesses. Outdoor advertising statute purpose revised to read, "After due investigation and deliberation it is the purpose of the Legislature to protect the public safety and welfare of persons using the highways of Alaska by causing the removal of outdoor advertising along said highways, thereby eliminating a source of distraction to vehicle operators and persons on said highways."
Congress passes Highway Beautification Act of 1965.
March 1968
Alaska signs Lady Bird Johnson Agreement on March 29, 1968.

Legislature substantially expands and strengthens outdoor advertising statutes, largely in response to Highway Beautification Act. AS 19.25.080 purpose revised to include: (1) protection of public safety and welfare; (2) prevent distractions and protect scenic beauty and attract tourists; (3) regulate outdoor advertising in areas adjacent to the right-of-way; to provide that nonconforming signs are a public nuisance; and to bring state into compliance with outdoor advertising in 23 U.S.C. Definition of "outdoor advertising" now "includes any outdoor sign, display or device used to advertise, attract attention or inform and which is visible to a person on the main-traveled way of a highway of the interstate or primary systems in this state, whether by printing, writing, painting, picture, light, drawing, or whether by the use of figures or objects, or a combination of these, or any other thing designed, intended or used to advertise, inform or attract attention."
Legislature adds AS 19.25.105 "LIMITATIONS OF OUTDOOR ADVERTISING SIGNS, DISPLAYS AND DEVICES. (a) No outdoor advertising shall be erected or maintained within 660 feet of the nearest edge of the right-of-way and visible from the main-traveled way of the interstate, primary, or secondary highways in this state except the following: (1) directional and other official signs and notices which include, but are not limited to, signs and notices pertaining to natural wonders, scenic and historic attractions, which are required or authorized by law, and which shall conform to federal standards for interstate and primary systems. (2) signs, displays and devices advertising the sale or lease of property upon which they are located or advertising activities conducted on the property.
(b) This section is subject to AS 07.15.340 as it applies to secondary highways."
Legislature adds AS 19.25.200 – 19.25.250, on encroachments. Allows encroachment permits to be issued; allows department to change, relocate or remove encroachments (or require owner of encroachment to do same); allows department to remove encroachments after owner does not comply with our demand to remove, making owner responsible for costs.
Legislature expands AS 19.25.105 to add:
"(a)(3) signs determined by the state, subject to concurrence of the United States Department of Transportation, to be landmark signs, including signs on farm structures, or natural surfaces, of historic or artistic significance, the preservation of which would be consistent with the provisions of this chapter.

(c) No outdoor advertising may be erected or maintained beyond 660 feet of the nearest edge of the right-of-way of the main traveled way of the interstate, primary or secondary highways in this state with the purpose of their message being read from that travel way except those outdoor advertising signs, displays or devices allowed under (a) of this section."

AS 19.25.105 amended again, to add a fourth exemption:
"(a)(4) directional signs and notices pertaining to schools."

AS 19.25.200 amended to allow Department to charge fees for encroachment permits. Also adds AS 19.25.200(b) "The provisions under (a) of this section do not apply to a mailbox or a newspaper box attached to a mailbox." These changes resulted from two separate bills.
AS 19.25.105 again amended to add another exemption: "(a)(5) advertising on bus benches or bus shelters if the state determines that the advertising conforms to local, state, and federal standards for interstate and primary highway systems."

AS 19.25.105 again amended, to add:
"(d) Outdoor advertising may not be erected or maintained within the right-of-way of an interstate, primary, or secondary highway except that outdoor advertising is allowed on bus benches and bus shelters located within the right-of-way under the authority of a permit issued under AS 19.25.200, if the bus benches or bus shelters are located within a borough or unified municipality and the buses that stop at that location operate during the entire year."

January 1988
HCR34 Relating to tourist-oriented directional signs is introduced. Resolution urges DOT/PF to implement a TODS program as soon as it is approved by FHWA.
May 1988
Legislature passes HCR34.
June 1988
Department issues policy for Experimental Tourist Oriented Directional Signing, including:
Experimental program to be funded by businesses for approaching tourist season;
Patterned after Iowa program;
Experimental program available, "to organized groups or businesses who are willing to undertake all administrative and organizational details, provide full funding, and are willing to conduct a simple on-going poll of their customers concerning the effectiveness of the trial TODS program;
Implementation funding was appropriated for the purpose of establishing final regulations.

April 1991
Department revises Policy for Experimental Tourist Oriented Directional Signing. Refines program somewhat, and extends it as experimental.
December 1991
Congress passes ISTEA, which includes requirements for states to control outdoor advertising, and makes some expenses eligible for federal-aid.
January 1993
Representative Menard and Senator Frank prefile HB25 and SB 157, making the following changes to AS 19.25:
"19.25.091. OUTDOOR ADVERTISING. Except as prohibited by 23 U.S.C. 131 and the regulations adopted by the United States Secretary of Transportation to implement and interpret that section, outdoor advertising is permitted outside of the right-of-way of a state highway.

19.25.093. CONTROL OF OUTDOOR ADVERTISING. A person may not erect or maintain outdoor advertising not permitted by AS 19.25.091."

Effort ultimately fails.

June 1993
Draft RCIA policy circulates in Department.
October 1993 Department’s revised TODS policy issued; also includes Community Services Signs.

January 1994
Representatives Menard and Olberg introduce HB367. The bill ultimately goes through 4 committee substitutes and passes. It makes the following changes to AS 19.25.105 (these are from the final CS):
19.25.105(a)(2) is amended to read:

"signs, displays, and devices advertising the sale or lease of property upon which they are located or advertising activities conducted on the property upon which they are located;" (underlined text is new text)

19.25.105(a)(5) is amended to read:

"advertising on bus benches or bush shelters, and adjacent trash receptacles, if the state determines that the advertising conforms to local, state and federal standards for interstate and primary highways;" (underlined text is new text)

AS 19.25.105(a)(6) is added to read:

"directional signs whose size, lighting, and spacing are approved by the United States Department of Transportation, may be erected and maintained outside of the right-of-way adjacent to interstate and primary highways in areas zoned industrial or commercial or in unzoned commercial or industrial areas as may be determined by agreement with the United States Department of Transportation; under this paragraph, the directional signs must

(A) be for an individual business entity that is of significant interest to the traveling public as evidenced by documentation that at least 75 percent of the entity’s gross business receipts are from motorists residing more than 20 miles from the business;

(B) consist of four or fewer off-premises signs for each business, and each sign

(i) must be located on private property;

(ii) must provide directional information;

(iii) must indicate the specific business entity;

(iv) must be located within 50 miles of the physical location of the business entity; and

(v) may not exceed 8 feet by 12 feet in size."

Bill also changes penalty for violation from a misdemeanor to a violation, but increases the fines from the range of $50 to $1,000 to $250 to $2,500.

May 1994
CSHB367(JUD) am S passes the Legislature.

June 1994
Governor Hickel transmits veto letter to Speaker of the House Ramona Barnes, for CSHB367(JUD) am S, "An Act relating to limitations on outdoor advertising signs, displays, and devices and penalties for violations related to outdoor advertising."
March 1995
HB 287 introduced by Representative Rokeberg. Amends AS 19.25.105 exceptions to add trash receptacles that are next to bus benches or bus shelters and revises AS 19.25.180 to read:
"APPLICABILITY OF MUNICIPAL ENACTMENTS. Notwithstanding AS 19.25.080 – 19.25.180, a municipality may enact ordinances that regulate outdoor advertising in a way that is more restrictive than the provisions of AS 19.25.080 – 19.25.180."

May 1995
SB181 introduced, with the following sponsors: Senator Green, Pearce, Halford, Frank, Miller, and Sharp, and Representatives Toohey, Ogan and James. This bill includes more or less the same provisions that were included in HB 367. HB 287 passes.

June 1995
Governor Knowles signs HB 287.
January 1996
Sponsor substitute for SB181 introduced.
April 1996
SB 181 passes.
May 1996
Governor Knowles writes veto letter to Senate President Pearce, vetoing CS for Sponsor Substitue for Senate Bill No. 181 (FIN), "An Act relating to tourist oriented directional signs that are 90 inches in width and 18 inches in height and to penalties for violations related to outdoor advertising." Directs DOT&PF to establish a task force (to include Division of Tourism and the visitor industry) to establish regulations for signing.
June 1996
Veto-override attempt for SB 181 fails.
August 1996
Department advertises in major newspapers, requesting public comment on the Department’s TODS policy.
November 1996 Department’s TODS Task Force established.

January 1997
Senator Green introduces SB56 (with cosponsors Senators Pearce and Mackie and Representatives Rokeberg and James). Bill amends AS 19.25.105 to add the following:
19.25.105(a)(6) "tourist oriented directional signs erected under (e) of this section."


19.25.105(d)(2) "tourist oriented directional signs erected under (e) of this section."


19.25.195(e) "The department shall establish a tourist oriented directional sign program. The department shall erect, or permit the erection of, directional signs for traveler oriented attractions and services within and outside of the rights-of-way of interstate, primary, and secondary highways in areas zoned industrial or commercial or in unzoned areas determined to be commercial or industrial areas. The signs may be erected on private land adjacent to the rights-of-way of interstate, primary, and secondary highways in this state if permission for the erection of the sign is granted by the owner of the private land. The sign, excluding posts, must be 90 inches in width and 18 inches in height and may contain only the name of the attraction or the business providing the attraction or service, an icon representing the attraction or service, the distance to the attraction or service, and a directional arrow. The department may except a sign from the width and height requirements of this subsection if the sign does not exceed 90 inches in width or 18 inches in height and the department finds that the exception is consistent with the purposes of this subsection. The location of directional signs within a right-of-way and the design and content of directional signs must be consistent with standards approved by the Federal Highway Administration. The department shall retain control over the location of directional signs. In scenic areas, the department shall control the location of directional signs in a manner that maintains the quality of scenic areas."

and changes the penalty for violation from a misdemeanor to a violation.

Tourist & Business Oriented Sign Task Force prepares a report for Commissioner Perkins, transmitting recommendations on ways of addressing Alaska’s tourist and business related sign needs while avoiding sign proliferation. Task Force recommends that the Department develop comprehensive sign regulations to include: TODS, RCIA, Logo Signs, General Service Signs, and Kiosks.
March 1997
SB 56 passes the legislature.

April 1997
Lt. Governor signs 17 AAC 60.001-995 regulations, setting an effective date of 5/18/97.

Governor Knowles vetoes SB 56.

Legislature votes to override Governor Knowles’ veto of SB 56.

July 1997
Lt. Governor signs 17 AAC 60.930 and 950 regulations, setting an effective date of 8/14/97.
November 1998
Ballot measure 5 passes, overturning provisions of SB 56, and further tightening AS 19.25 provisions. Intent language added in AS 19.25.075: "FINDINGS AND INTENT OF THE PEOPLE OF ALASKA. (a) The people of Alaska find that the presence of billboards visible from Alaska’s highways endangers Alaska’s uniqueness and its scenic beauty. (b) It is the intent of the people of the State of Alaska that Alaska shall forever remain free of billboards." Also increases penalty for violation to up to $5,000.
January 20, 2002
(Lt. Governor signs regulations on 12/21/01) 17 AAC 05.060 through 17 ACC 05.070 - Memorial Sign Program become effective. The Memorial Sign Program provides relatives and friends of people fatally injured in highway crashes the opportunity to memorialize them by sponsoring the placement of a sign near the accident site; also providing a means to combat drunk driving and increase awareness of the need to drive safely and responsibly. This section of the regulations included application procedures, location requirements, and the wording on the Memorial Signs.
March 01, 2002
(Lt. Governor signs regulations on 01/30/02) Encroachments, outdoor advertising, lane closure permits, recreational and cultural interest (RCIA) areas signs, traveler information kiosks, community services signs, general services signs, tourist signs, and administrative review and appeal procedures become effective:

17 AAC 05.045 adopted standards for the use of rest stops and pull outs on the state highway system.

17 AAC 10.011 allows the issuance of encroachment permits to government agencies for flags, decorative banners in highway rights of way, and informational signs informing motorists that they are entering a community. Amendments clarify the uses that are allowed in highway rights of way under encroachment permits.

New language codified as 17 AAC 20.010 through 17 AAC 20.013 for the regulation of outdoor advertising. The regulations implement AS 19.25.075 through AS 19.25.180.

New language codified as 17 AAC 20.017 establishes a permitting process for lane closures on highways to accommodate construction and maintenance activities on contiguous land.

Amendments for 17 AAC 60.205 and 17 AAC 60.210, enlarge the categories of activities that qualify for recreational and cultural interest area (RCIA) signs, and clarify the procedures for the issuance of RCIA sign permits.

The department repealed regulations found in 17 AAC 60.301 through 17 60.320, which relate to community services signs.

Amendments for 17 AAC 60.401 through 17 AAC 60.420, which relate to tourist information kiosks, allows them to address the needs of all travelers, clarifying the conditions of use under the revised information kiosk program and makes more specific the permitting process.

The department repealed the regulations found in 17 AAC 60.501 through 17 AAC 60.515, which related to general services signs.

Amendments to 17 AAC 60.915 incorporate by reference materials not previously included in the regulations or to reflect new materials published since the adoption of the regulations.

Amendments to 17 AAC 60.995 achieve consistency with the changes proposed to the regulations found in 17 AAC 60 as discussed above.

Amendments to 17 AAC 85.010 through 17 AAC 85.040 make clear the types of decisions that this appeal process applies to, streamlines the procedures and substitutes the title of chief engineer for the Director of Statewide Design and Engineering Services.

17 AAC 85.990 adopted definitions for the regulations found in 17 AAC 85.010 through 17 AAC 85.040.

August 23, 2018
The American Civil Liberties Union, Alaskans for Dunleavy, and Eric Seibels filed a lawsuit regarding political campaign signs in and along the State’s right of way. See our campaign signs webpage for more information and watch for updates to the pending court case on the matter.