• Almost Heaven? West Virginia Thinks Twice About Highway “Sponsorships”

     

    Selling commercial “sponsorships” on the highway right of way (rest areas, welcome centers, roads, and vehicles) wouldn’t work in West Virginia, says a new report.

    “The sponsorship program is neither feasible nor practicable for the (West Virginia) Division of Highways,” concluded an independent study commissioned by the state.

    The report cited these reasons:

    • Small number of potential sponsors
    • Start-up and program costs reduce the net for the state
    • Continuing costs would escalate while revenues are likely to remain static

    In 2018, West Virginia’s Legislature asked for a study of the feasibility of starting a commercial sponsorship program on the highway right of way. The state hired a Boston-based engineering firm CDM Smith to explore revenue potential.

    The consultant found tepid interest among potential corporate sponsors. The West Virginia Manufacturer’s Association e-mailed its members “with no responses received indicating interest.”

    In states with highway sponsorships of courtesy patrols, rest areas, and welcome centers, GEICO and State Farm are primary sponsors.

    In 2014, Tennessee’s Department of Transportation issued a report that said: “Rest area sponsorship programs have not proven to date to provide any significant revenue for state DOT’s that will help offset operational costs. The small revenue that is generated is diminished by administrative costs.”

    The sobering 2019 report from West Virginia cites “tried and failed” sponsorship programs such as:

    • Iowa’s rest area sponsorship program was eliminated after a three-year contract.
    • Missouri DOT let a three-year contract for sponsorships and advertising at rest areas. “The program performed so poorly that by the third year, the fee was waived entirely and the contract was not renewed.”
    • Georgia put out a Request for Proposals in 2014, but there was no interest.
    • South Dakota: “No sponsorship program. Legislation was passed allowing advertising on a limited basis in welcome centers. However, to date, advertising has not happened.”
    • Utah awarded sponsorship contracts in 2016, which were revoked in 2017 due to lack of activity.

    Virginia is a pioneer in sponsorship efforts. But the 2019 report from West Virginia was not upbeat: “Virginia’s sponsorship program began in 2013. GEICO sponsors 43 rest areas and ECPI University sponsors three (generating $300,000 annually between 2016 and 2018). However, $200,000 of that revenue was from a now-expired contract. There are currently 46 vehicles in Virginia’s courtesy patrol program, managed by a private entity through a contract with the state. The future of Virginia’s sponsorship program could become non-existent due to the expiration of a large contract.”

    (Note:  Texas DOT proposed the sale of corporate-logo sponsorships on official traffic signs on the right of way.  In 2017, the Federal Highway Administration said “no.”)

     


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    2 Comments

    1. Most states have an abundance of land that they have acquired through eminent domain for projects that did not require the acreage that was confiscated by states. So why don’t the States allow the professionals ( OOH) companies to enter into leases on the excess land by major highways and roadways and let the professionals help these states generate needed funds? Lord knows many have misused, mismanaged their fiscal budgets as well have attached high payout pensions of many state employees from funds that are supposed to be going towards infrastructure, roadways, etc..

    2. Bart Thomas says:

      Again, We Thank You. For providing very important information! Bt.

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