Knox County Commission Forum

Briggs: I have met with several of the smaller, local billboard and EMC companies that are based in Knox County. Most are small family businesses that would be adversely affected by a total ban of all billboards and EMC's. The message I receive is "let's regulate, not ban". The small company owners are not opposed to sitting down with the MPC, environmental groups, homeowner associations, and local government representatives and working on regulations that everyone can live with. Consequently, I would like to withdraw the ordinances banning conventional billboards and electronic message centers.

I get the idea that digital billboards and EMC's are easier to change. They also create driving distractions. A good compromise might be to not allow any animation and to only allow changing them once an hour or some other limited frequency.

bizgrrl's picture

Darn. I was really hoping to

Darn. I was really hoping to either get rid of the one on Alcoa Higway at Maloney. It's just a distraction.

reform4's picture

The frequency is easily calculated

Whatever time it takes drive the distance to when the sign is first legible, until you pass it.

If the viewable distance (by a young person with good eyes) is 2000 feet, and the average speed (not speed limit) of 30 mph, then the update rate shall be no faster than 45 seconds.

Subject to a $250 per day fine.

Brightness? THere may be existing regulations regarding lighting of billboards and light pollution that we can use. But they don't need to 'stand out' to a driver in relation to other light sources on the road and be a distraction.

bizgrrl's picture

Sorry, just about anything

Sorry, just about anything along Alcoa Highway is a dangerous distraction. This electronic billboard appears right after coming through a couple of curves at John Sevier and IC King park toward Knoxville and right before a heavily congested area from Maloney Road to Montlake. Unless there is a traffic backup, drivers already don't pay attention in the area and don't obey the 50 mph speed limit. The placement for that electronic billboard is not good no matter the timing or the brightness.

Treehouse's picture

Same on Chapman

A brilliant, huge, colorful sign on a curve coming into the City of Knoxville is horrible. I don't want to promote criminal activity but a monkey wrench gang is much needed for this monstrosity.

Local Citizen's picture


This is what happens when someone is running for state senator. Politics as usual. He will need a lot more flip-flops than this to defeat Campfield.

Observer's picture

"This is what happens when

"This is what happens when someone is running for state senator."

Maybe, but I don't think the votes were there. Joyce Feld and Margot Kline ran this in the ground. They lost Mike Hammond earlier with some bullying tactics and there weren't six votes left. Briggs saw the writing on the wall.

AnonymousOne's picture

Haven't digital billboards

Haven't digital billboards been used for Amber alerts and such?

I think billboards need to be regulated, but not sure about a complete ban.

As far as distracted driving on Alcoa Hwy caused by billboards, I think even if you took away all billboards and signs, Alcoa HWy would still be far too dangerous because of all the speeding knotheads that drive on it.

bizgrrl's picture

I've never understood some of

I've never understood some of the arguments against trying to make Alcoa Highway safer. Just because Alcoa Highway is unsafe without the billboards is not a good reason to add more things (electronic billboards/distractions) to make it unsafe.

michael kaplan's picture

Most are small family

Most are small family businesses that would be adversely affected by a total ban of all billboards and EMC's.

This doesn't seem to be a problem in some states.

Rachel's picture

Briggs still intends to bring

Briggs still intends to bring up the ordinance to ban electronic billboards - just not new ordinary billboards or EMCs.

And yes, the County would be well-served by looking at the City ordinance on EMCs, which bans stuff like animation and address scrolling time, etc.

rikki's picture


I believe Commission passed on first reading a ban on new electronic billboards and on converting existing boards to electronic form. I was glad they took some action, because the perpetual delays and refusals to make a decision had stretched to the point where a futility firing squad was looking like a reasonable next step.

Just Too Scruffy's picture

It's Not Times Square

"And yes, the County would be well-served by looking at the City ordinance on EMCs, which bans stuff like animation and address scrolling time, etc."

Apparently the city has made an exception for the continuous rapid scrolling message display above the intersection of Gay Street and Summit Hill Drive--one of the more dangerous downtown intersections especially for pedestrians.

schull's picture


I ride a bike through this intersection daily, usually twice, two and from work. I've ridden through at all times of the day from the early morning to late at night. In my experience it's one of the safest intersections. The only times I actually notice this sign is stopped at red lights or when I'm on foot. I've also been through this intersection in a car numerous times and from all directions. I still only notice this sign when stopped at a red light.

Michael's picture

Dunno how dangerous the

Dunno how dangerous the Visitor Center scroller is.
But it sure is gaudy.

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