In 2011, the federal government told state officials that signs they wanted to put up along highways were illegal because they violated the National Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices.
Federal authorities said the signs were too big and distracting — that they posed a hazard to motorists. And they declared that vital funding to the state could be held back if the sign project went ahead.
Regardless, Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo had the signs erected anyway. More than 500 signs were put up before the July 4 holiday in 2016.
So, the Federal Highway Administration has withheld $14 million from the state this year. If the signs are modified to comply with federal requirements or removed by Sept. 30, the funding will be restored.
The Cuomo administration waved a white flag, according to an editorial published Feb. 2 by the New York Post. The state Department of Transportation announced the signs would be removed over the summer.
Well, summer is quickly slipping away — but the signs have stayed up. The DOT has just a few weeks left to take all the signs down.
U.S. Rep. John Faso, R-19, joined several other Republican members of the New York congressional delegation in requesting Cuomo to remedy the situation. Representatives of the DOT declined several requests from the Watertown Daily Times to comment on how this would be handled.
Along with other states, New York adopted the National Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices. So, officials have no argument against following its provisions. They agreed to them, so they should implement them.
But Cuomo is determined to show everyone he’s the boss, despite our losing $14 million in federal funding. This is a matter of ego over governance, and it’s costing the state money. He needs to recognize what’s most important and take proper actions at once.