NCDOT hopes to drive in business through sponsorships

This is an archived article and the information in the article may be outdated. Please look at the time stamp on the story to see when it was last updated.

The North Carolina Department of Transportation is seeking businesses to provide financial sponsorship for things you already see on the roads.

The idea is to sell sponsorships for things like rest stops, weigh stations and ferries. There could also be sponsorship opportunities for electronic road signs, the 511 road information phone line or online content.

The plan was approved by the state Board of Transportation last week.

A spokesman for NCDOT said at this point no program is in jeopardy because of funding challenges but it’s good to build a financial reserve for these programs in anticipation of budget cuts.

“We're already providing the service and now we're having someone put some money up that wants to help us and that doesn't cost us anything,” said Steve Abbott with NCDOT.

Prices for these sponsorships have not been set but the program is already in place in other states. One popular sponsorship option in other states is for motorist assistance programs.

"You need more of them because you only see a few of them now and then and I've seen a lot of people out here stranded, a lot of older people so that would be yeah that would be a plus," said Richard Gamboa, a driver who supports the sponsorship idea.

"There is advertising out there but the more the better," said Gamboa. "It’s more money for the state, more money for safety issues."

Several drivers assumed the state made money off advertisers already. They consider the blue signs on the sides of highways pointing out food, gas and lodging options advertising.

The Department of Transportation spends as much on signs and installation as it charges and no phone numbers or slogans are allowed on the signs.

Partnerships with private companies and groups through the Adopt A Highway program have already been successful. Companies have spent about $5 million each year since 2011 through the roadside litter beautification project.

Abbott said the new sponsorship signs will look a lot like the Adopt A Highway signs.

“We'll be very careful of what we're doing,” said Abbott. “We don't want to do anything that's really over the top.”

Some drivers feel like they see enough advertisement on the road and don't want to see anymore distractions on the drive.

"It's the subtle message you're given, eat the fast food it doesn't matter what your cholesterol is and it does, so I don't like it," said Kathy Payton.

Notice: you are using an outdated browser. Microsoft does not recommend using IE as your default browser. Some features on this website, like video and images, might not work properly. For the best experience, please upgrade your browser.