Riverside County seeks to remove scenic status from stretch of 10 Freeway to allow digital billboards

Riverside County is asking state transportation officials to strip part of the 10 Freeway of its “scenic highway” status. That would clear the way for crews to install digital billboards and other outdoor advertising.

The county wants Caltrans to remove a busy one-mile stretch of desert highway between Banning and Cabazon from the State Scenic Highway System. It wants to let advertisers plant digital billboards in the area.

The county says this portion of I-10 is already crowded with standard billboards it doesn’t control because they sit on Native American tribal land. In a letter to Caltrans, supervisor Marion Ashley argues that another sign or two won’t matter.

I-10 commuter Jim Ott of Colton disagrees. “Will ya listen to your constituents or will you listen to the billboard companies?”

Ott calls digital billboards a freeway menace. “That’s sweeping the country right now. It takes just 1.8 seconds to get in an accident at freeway speeds. And these signs proudly claim that they’ll keep your attention for two to six seconds, extremely dangerous.”

Riverside County says it would tightly regulate any new electronic billboards or other outdoor advertising. Officials say the digital signs would allow multiple businesses to use the same space. That could curb the proliferation of billboards on land the county doesn’t control.

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