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Motorist Signs - Frequently Asked Questions

What is the Motorist Information Sign Program? 
The program is designed to direct travelers to gas, food, lodging, camping, recreation, tourist activities and 24 hour pharmacies. WSDOT installs and maintains the blue back panel, the business provides the logo sign.

Does my business qualify?
Your business must receive its principle source of revenue from the sale of goods, products, or services which fall within the service categories of gas, food, lodging, camping, recreation, tourist activities or 24 hour pharmacy. Eligibility criteria are as follows: 

What is the annual cost?
The annual permit fees are based by location of the highway on which the sign will be posted. Contact your MIS region representative about sign costs in your area. All businesses will be required to provide two business logos, one for each direction of travel, if there is space on the back panel to do so. 

Zone

Fee for signs in both directions of travel

Fee for sign in one direction of travel

Zone 1: Freeways and expressways with more than 80,000 vehicle per day

$910

$455

Zone 2: Freeways and expressways with less than 80,000 vehicle per day

$683

$342

Zone 3: Conventional two lane highways

$364

$182

What should my business logo look like?
Your logo sign will be seen by thousands of motorists. Since potential customers could be driving by your sign at 60 mph or more, to take advantage of this opportunity make your logo as simple as possible:

  • Simple fonts are easier to read (i.e. arial, century gothic, tahoma).
  • Use the minimal amount of words necessary and make the letters at least eight inches high. 
  • A light background with dark letters is preferred, any legend or message should contrast effectively with the background - the colors must provide good readability during both daylight and nighttime hours. 
  • Business logo signs may consist of a symbol, trademark, or a legend message identifying the name or abbreviations of the specific business – the logo must be the symbol or trademark commonly used by the business. 
  • The maximum amount of legend should be three lines, each having up to 12 characters (i.e. letter, numerals, or spaces). 
  • Telephone or fax numbers, street, e-mail or Internet addresses, or directions are not permitted on logo signs. 
  • Only the following supplemental messages may be used with logo signs: Open 24 hours, Diesel, Biodiesel, E85, Propane, CFN/Shell or other shared facility, Truck Stop, and RV Dump. A seasonal business may include months the business is in operation. 
  • Business logo designs must be approved by a WSDOT Motorist Information Sign region representative before it is manufactured.

If I’m not a nationally recognized business, is this program something I should consider.
Definitely! The MIS program provides smaller businesses with an affordable opportunity to compete with the “big guys.” The MIS program is cost effective compared to other advertising mediums.

What is the maximum number of logos permitted on a panel?
A maximum of six business logo signs can be installed on one back panel. A total of four back panels can be installed at an interchange or intersection if sign space is available.

What happens when a back panel is full?
The MIS program has a first come first serve policy. If an existing back panel is full, a qualified business wishing to join the program is put on a waiting list. When a business on the back panel leaves the program, the first business on the waiting list is given the chance to join the program.

How do I choose a sign manufacturer and what does it cost to have a logo sign made?
Choosing the sign company is up to you, your MIS region representative may have a list of sign manufactures available upon request. There are regulations as to materials and size, provided in the introductory packet received after the application has been approved and fees have been paid. After the logo sign sketch is approved by your MIS region representative, the sign manufacturer sends the finished logo sign to WSDOT to install. It is recommended that customers ask for a seven year logo sign warranty in case of deterioration. Costs vary for having the logo sign made; your manufacturer can best answer this question.

Ball park figures are:

  • 24" x 12" signs may cost between $84 and $530
  • 36” x 12” signs may cost between $160 and $530
  • 60” x 36” signs may cost between $330 and $530

 
How much advertising can be put on a logo sign?
None. Only your registered business name or a portion of that name is allowed.

Can a food facility located within a gas facility qualify for food signing?
The food facility located within the gas facility qualifies for food signing if all the food activity criteria are met, including inside seating for at least 20 people, and parking for at least 10 vehicles.

What if the logo sign is damaged or the design needs changing?
A fee of $115 is charged to cover costs of removing the old logo sign and installing the new one if WSDOT finds that the logo sign is deteriorating and/or is losing its reflectivity. The business is contacted to provide a replacement business sign. If replacement of a logo sign occurs at the customer’s request due to a desire to change the color, design or name on the sign, the $115 fee also applies. 

If a business with logo signing is purchased can the new owner get the existing place on the board?
If change of ownership does not result in a name change of the business, the new owner may retain the existing space as long as the eligibility requirements are still met. When a change of ownership results in a name change on the logo sign for a currently signed facility, a new application and permit must be submitted. Preference is given to applicants at the top of the region waiting list.

If an owner is currently participating in the MIS program and is selling the business, it is requested that the current owner contact their MIS region representative

Can private clubs have logo signs?
No. Facilities must be open to the general public including minors. All businesses must conform to all applicable federal and state laws regarding non-discrimination on grounds of race, religion, color, age, sex, or national origin when providing public accommodations.

Can a seasonal business participate?
Yes, the preferred option is for a seasonal business to indicate on the business logo sign the months the business is in operation. If the logo sign does not have this information, the sign must be covered or removed during the time the business is not in operation (a fee is charged for these services). Seasonal businesses pay the full annual cost based on location of the highway on which the business logo sign will be posted.

How long does it take to get a logo sign installed?
The business owner must complete the application process. The Department reviews the application and business to ensure eligibility requirements, and conducts a roadway review. Once confirmed, the business must provide logo sign artwork to WSDOT for approval, and then provide the logo sign to WSDOT for installation. The entire process may take several months.

If there is no Motorist Information Sign at my interchange, how can one be placed there?
A MIS back panel may be installed at an interchange as long as it avoids a visual conflict with other signs. There must be 800 feet between every MIS back panel and between green guide/directional highway signs. MIS back panels are not allowed at interchanges leading to another freeway or expressway. MIS back panels are only allowed at interchanges where a motorist can conveniently exit then re-enter the highway and continue in the same direction.

How many signs can I have per activity?
Logo signs are limited to one sign per direction per any activity (gas, food, lodging, camping, recreation, tourist activities and 24 hour pharmacy) for any business. Logo signs are located at the interchange or intersection closest to the facility advertised.

How far from the interchange can a business be located and still qualify?
Contingent upon sign space being available, from an interstate highway gas, food, lodging activities and 24 hour pharmacy shall be located within three miles either direction. Camping or tourist oriented activities shall be located within five miles in either direction. From a non interstate highway gas, food, lodging, recreation, or tourist-oriented activities shall be located within five miles in either direction. If no services are available within a three/five mile limit (or choose not to participate in the program), WSDOT can extend the limit in three mile increments up to a maximum of 15 miles, or up to a maximum of 20 miles if the service is located within a distressed area.

How can motorists find my business if it is not visible from the exit ramp?
Follow through signs (signs that direct the motorist to the business after leaving the main roadway) with mileage indicators are placed on exit ramps or city streets or county roads, and are smaller versions of the Motorist Information Logo Sign. The business is responsible for providing the follow through signs and for working with local agencies for permission to place the follow through signs on city or county roads.

How do I apply?
Simply click on the application, fill out the form and submit. If you are still not sure if your business qualifies it is recommended that you contact the MIS representative in the region where your logo sign will be installed.

What if I disagree with the Department about a permit or license issue?
If you should disagree with the Department about a decision which has been made, you have the right to have the Washington State Traffic Engineer hear the issue and recommend a final order. You will need to submit a written request to:

WSDOT
Attn: State Traffic Engineer
PO Box 47344
Olympia, WA 98504-7344