Administrative Code

Virginia Administrative Code
5/20/2022

Part II. Directional and Other Official Signs and Notices (Located Off Highway Right of Way)

24VAC30-120-80. Definitions.

The following definitions apply to directional and other official signs and notices which are erected and maintained within 660 feet of the nearest edge of the right of way of interstate, federal-aid primary and national highway systems, which are not erected on the highway right of way and which are visible from the main-traveled way of the system.

"Directional and other official signs and notices" means only official signs and notices, public utility signs, service club and religious notices, public service signs, and directional signs.

"Directional signs" means signs containing directional information about public places owned or operated by federal, state, or local governments or their agencies; publicly or privately owned natural phenomena, historic, cultural, scientific, educational, and religious sites; and areas of natural scenic beauty or naturally suited for outdoor recreation, deemed to be in the interest of the traveling public.

"Erect" means to construct, build, raise, assemble, place, affix, attach, create, paint, draw, or in any other way bring into being or establish.

"Federal or state law" means a federal or state constitutional provision or statute, or an ordinance, rule or regulation enacted or adopted by a state or federal agency or a political subdivision of a state pursuant to a federal or state constitution or statute.

"Freeway" means a divided arterial highway for through traffic with full control of access.

"Interstate system" means the national system of interstate and defense highways, described in § 103(e) of Title 23, United States Code.

"Maintain" means to allow to exist.

"Main-traveled way" means the through traffic lanes of the highway, exclusive of frontage roads, auxiliary lanes and ramps.

"National highway system" means the federal-aid highway system described in subsection (b) of § 103 of Title 23, United States Code, and regulations adopted pursuant to that law, or as defined in § 33.2-1200 of the Code of Virginia.

"Official signs and notices" means signs and notices erected and maintained by public officers or public agencies within their territorial or zoning jurisdiction and pursuant to and in accordance with direction or authorization contained in federal, state or local law for the purposes of carrying out an official duty or responsibility. Historical markers authorized by state law and erected by state or local government agencies or nonprofit historical societies may be considered official signs.

"Parkland" means any publicly owned land which is designated or used as a public park, recreation area, wildlife or waterfowl refuge or historic site.

"Primary system" means the federal-aid highway system described in § 103(b) of Title 23, United States Code.

"Public service signs" means signs located on school bus stop shelters, which:

1. Identify the donor, sponsor, or contributor of said shelter;

2. Contain safety slogans or messages, which shall occupy not less than 60% of the area of the sign;

3. Contain no other message;

4. Are located on school bus shelters which are authorized or approved by city, county, or state law, regulation or ordinance, and at places approved by the city, county, or state agency controlling the highway involved; and

5. May not exceed 32 square feet in area. Not more than one sign on each shelter shall face in any one direction.

"Public utility signs" means warning signs, informational signs, notices, or markers which are customarily erected and maintained by publicly or privately owned public utilities, as essential to their operations.

"Rest area" means an area or site established and maintained within or adjacent to the highway right of way by or under public supervision or control for the convenience of the traveling public.

"Scenic area" means any area of particular scenic beauty or historical significance as determined by the federal, state, or local officials having jurisdiction thereof, and includes interests in land which has been acquired for the restoration, preservation, and enhancement of scenic beauty.

"Service club and religious notices" means signs and notices whose erection is authorized by law, relating to meetings of nonprofit service clubs or charitable associations, or religious services, which signs do not exceed eight square feet in area.

"Sign" means an outdoor sign, light, display device, figure, painting, drawing, message, placard, poster, billboard, or other thing which is designed, intended, or used to advertise or inform any part of the advertising or informative contents of which is visible from any place on the main-traveled way of the interstate or federal-aid primary highway.

"Single route" means one numbered highway or a combination of numbered highways affording a means of reaching an advertised activity from any one point.

"State" means any one of the 50 states, the District of Columbia, or Puerto Rico.

"Visible" means capable of being seen (whether or not legible) without visual aid by a person of normal visual acuity.

Statutory Authority

§§ 33.2-210, 33.2-1200, and 33.2-1220 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR385-01-13 § 2.1, eff. April 1, 1976; amended, Virginia Register Volume 11, Issue 10, eff. March 8, 1995; Volume 31, Issue 7, eff. December 31, 2014.

24VAC30-120-90. Prohibited signs.

The following signs are prohibited:

1. Signs advertising activities that are illegal under federal or state laws or regulations in effect at the location of those signs or at the location of those activities.

2. Signs located in such a manner as to obscure or otherwise interfere with the effectiveness of an official traffic sign, signal, or device, or obstruction or interfere with the driver's view of approaching, merging, or intersecting traffic.

3. Signs which are erected or maintained upon trees or painted or drawn upon rocks or other natural features.

4. Obsolete signs.

5. Signs which are structurally unsafe or in disrepair.

6. Signs which move or have any animated or moving parts.

7. Signs located in rest area, parklands or scenic areas.

8. Signs that identify ancillary sites, areas, features or activities.

Statutory Authority

§§ 33.2-210, 33.2-1200, and 33.2-1220 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR385-01-13 § 2.2, eff. April 1, 1976; amended, Virginia Register Volume 11, Issue 10, eff. March 8, 1995.

24VAC30-120-100. Size.

A. No sign shall exceed the following limits:

1. Maximum area -- 150 square feet

2. Maximum height -- 20 feet.

3. Maximum length -- 20 feet.

B. All dimensions include border and trim, but exclude supports.

Statutory Authority

§§ 33.2-210, 33.2-1200, and 33.2-1220 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR385-01-13 § 2.3, eff. April 1, 1976; amended, Virginia Register Volume 11, Issue 10, eff. March 8, 1995.

24VAC30-120-110. Lighting.

Signs may be illuminated, subject to the following:

1. Signs which contain, include, or are illuminated by any flashing, intermittent, or moving light or lights are prohibited.

2. Signs which are not effectively shielded so as to prevent beams or rays of light from being directed at any portion of the traveled way of an interstate or primary highway or which are of such intensity or brilliance as to cause glare or to impair the vision of the driver of any motor vehicle, or which otherwise interfere with any driver's operation of a motor vehicle are prohibited.

3. No sign may be so illuminated as to interfere with the effectiveness of or obscure an official traffic sign, device, or signal.

Statutory Authority

§§ 33.2-210, 33.2-1200, and 33.2-1220 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR385-01-13 § 2.4, eff. April 1, 1976; amended, Virginia Register Volume 11, Issue 10, eff. March 8, 1995.

24VAC30-120-120. Spacing.

A. Each location of a sign must be approved by the state Department of Transportation.

B. No sign may be located within 2,000 feet of an interchange, or intersection at grade along the interstate system or other freeways (measured along the interstate or freeway from the nearest point of the beginning or ending or pavement widening at the exit from or entrance to the main-traveled way).

C. No sign may be located within 2,000 feet of a rest area, parkland, or scenic area.

D. 1. No two signs facing the same direction of travel shall be spaced less than one mile apart;

2. Not more than three signs pertaining to the same activity and facing the same direction of travel may be erected along a single route approaching the activity;

3. Signs located adjacent to the interstate system shall be within 75 air miles of the activity; and

4. Signs located adjacent to the primary system shall be within 50 air miles of the activity.

Statutory Authority

§§ 33.2-210, 33.2-1200, and 33.2-1220 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR385-01-13 § 2.5, eff. April 1, 1976; amended, Virginia Register Volume 11, Issue 10, eff. March 8, 1995.

24VAC30-120-130. Message content.

The message on signs shall be limited to the identification of the approved site, feature, area or activity and directional information useful to the traveler in locating the site, area, feature, or activity, such as mileage, route number or exit numbers. Descriptive words or phrases, and pictorial or photographic representations of the activity or its environs are prohibited.

Statutory Authority

§§ 33.2-210, 33.2-1200, and 33.2-1220 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR385-01-13 § 2.6, eff. April 1, 1976; amended, Virginia Register Volume 11, Issue 10, eff. March 8, 1995.

24VAC30-120-140. Administration of regulations.

The Commissioner of Highways, under § 33.2-1201 of the Code of Virginia, has the duty to administer and enforce provisions of Chapter 12 (§ 33.2-1200 et seq.) of Title 33.2 of the Code of Virginia. The board and the Commissioner of Highways recognize that there are other state agencies which have as their primary purpose the control and administration of the type of specific unique phenomena or site, for which a directional sign application may be made, that have valuable experience and knowledge in the matters contained in the definition of "directional signs." Therefore, the following state agencies are hereby recognized for the purpose of making recommendations whether a site, area, agency, or phenomena falls within the definition of "directional signs" set forth in 24VAC30-120-80:

Department of Conservation and Recreation

Department of Historic Resources

The Library of Virginia

The recommendations must be based upon criteria presently utilized or hereinafter adopted by one of these agencies.

After the recommendation is received the commissioner must employ the following standards in addition to those which appear elsewhere to ascertain whether a site, area, agency, or phenomena is eligible for directional signs.

1. That publicly or privately owned activities or attractions eligible for directional signing are limited to the following: natural phenomena; scenic attractions; historic, educational, cultural, scientific, and religious sites; and areas naturally suited for outdoor recreation.

2. Any of the above must be nationally or regionally known as determined by the commissioner.

3. Any of the above must be of outstanding interest to the traveling public as determined by the Commissioner of Highways.

The area, site, agency, or phenomena seeking to qualify for "directional signs" shall be the principal area, site, agency, or phenomena which would appear on proposed sign and not ancillary to the message which would appear on the sign.

Statutory Authority

§§ 33.2-210, 33.2-1200, and 33.2-1220 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR385-01-13 § 2.7, eff. April 1, 1976; amended, Virginia Register Volume 11, Issue 10, eff. March 8, 1995; amended, Volume 28, Issue 4, eff. November 23, 2011; Volume 31, Issue 7, eff. December 31, 2014.

24VAC30-120-150. Final determination.

The commissioner shall make the final determination whether a site, area, agency or phenomena is eligible for directional signs. The signs must conform to the requirements and standards set out herein in Part II (24VAC30-120-80 et seq.).

Statutory Authority

§§ 33.2-210, 33.2-1200, and 33.2-1220 of the Code of Virginia.

Historical Notes

Derived from VR385-01-13 § 2.8, eff. April 1, 1976; amended, Virginia Register Volume 11, Issue 10, eff. March 8, 1995.

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