BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) - UPDATE - The Federal Highway Authority released a new statement on Friday saying, "The Federal Highway Administration intends to continue to work with NYSDOT to resolve this issue. If the state complies with federal requirements, the FHWA will reinstate funding by Sept. 30, 2018."
ORIGINAL STORY - Millions of dollars in federal highway funds will soon ride into the sunset unless New York state takes swift action to take down hundreds of blue 'I Love NY' highway signs the federal government says are illegal.
In a letter to Governor Andrew Cuomo's administration, the Federal Highway Administration said it has docked the state $14 million for installing 500 "non-compliant" signs and ignoring repeated requests for removal.
The signs were installed by the state department of transportation in 2016 in an effort to boost tourism. But federal officials say the signs contain symbols and lettering that violate strict state and federal standards set in place to insure safety on the roads.
The FHWA also says the signs are on "large supports and structures which create obstructions within the roadside environment that could pose safety risks."
If the state complies with the federal request to take down the signs by September 30th, the federal funding will be restored, the FHWA says.
State officials say they are working through the issue.
"We believe the signs are safe and provide useful information to drivers, and will continue to work with FHWA on a mutually beneficial resolution to this matter," a state DOT spokesman told 7 Eyewitness News.
The signs cost state taxpayers $8.1 million. A USA TODAY Network investigation found the state paid contractors overtime and printed some signs out of state to make sure they were in place before the busy July 4th holiday in 2016. The rush pushed up the cost to more than $15,000 per sign, according to the report.