Federal Gov’t Forces New Jersey DOT to Change Road Signs

Ship Bottom, NJ, 2/5/13 -- A sign on the roadside announces that Holgate will be accepting sand for beach replenishment until Feb 20. Holgate, at the southern end of the island, was the hardest hit community here during Hurricane Sandy. Photo by Liz Roll/FEMA

Americans have long been aware of the overreaches of the federal government, with this nation of our being born out of a revolution against one of the last colonizing monarchies on the planet at the time.

We’re keenly aware of where the line should be drawn between the federal apparatus and the local leadership, and the latest example of this now comes to us from New Jersey.

Quirky highway signs described as “quintessential New Jersey” that were designed to raise awareness on road safety have been getting the thumbs-up from motorists in the Garden State. But the feds apparently didn’t approve and reportedly directed them to be switched off. “Hold on to your butts—don’t drive high,” “Get your head out of your apps,” and “Nice car. Did it come with a turn signal?” are just a few examples of the 200-plus tongue-in-cheek digital displays from the New Jersey Department of Transportation that debuted last month across the state, per the Philadelphia Inquirer. There was even a message dedicated to native son Bruce Springsteen: “Slow down. This ain’t Thunder Road.”

But then…

As of Wednesday, however, the signs had gone dark at the instruction of the Federal Highway Administration. “The FHWA has instructed us to cease posting these creative safety messages,” an NJDOT representative announced in an email. The FHWA, for its part, issued a curt statement that simply said it was “aware of the changeable message signs and has reached out to NJDOT.”

As it turns out, the federal government doesn’t appear to have much of a sense of humor these days.