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Since You Asked

I noticed that signs giving directions to food and hotels already have appeared on the new south Medford interchange. I was wondering who decides what businesses appear on the signs and who's in charge of placing them along the highway.

— Kate J., Medford

Those famous blue signs are open to any business willing to shell out up to $288

(note: This figure has been corrected) per year to appear on a sign at the state's busiest interchanges, according to the Oregon Travel Information Council, or OTIC, the agency in charge of the advertisement signs.

The prices are based on the amount of traffic that typically rolls through the freeway exit each year. The most expensive spots in Oregon are in the Portland metro area, of course.

Oregon Department of Transportation spokesman Gary Leaming said his agency has nothing to do with the blue signs.

"We don't hang them or anything," Leaming said. "(The OTIC) is fully in charge of advertising along the interstate."

The program sprung from the highway beautification programs of the late 1960s, Leaming said.

The goal was to keep the nation's interstates free of large, sometimes obnoxious billboards that cluttered the landscape.

There are several rules businesses must follow to have their logo appear on a sign. If a business is a gas, food, lodging or attraction facility, it must be within one mile of the interchange. If a business is a camping facility, it must be within three miles of the interchange, according to the OTIC Web site.

Send questions to "Since You Asked," Mail Tribune Newsroom, P.O. Box 1108, Medford, OR 97501; by fax to 541-776-4376; or by e-mail to youasked@mailtribune.com.