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Texas ponders allowing higher roadside billboards

  AUSTIN, Texas (AP) - The Texas countryside could become dotted by billboards up to 65 feet tall under a rule revision being considered by the Texas Transportation Commission.

   A public hearing has been scheduled Tuesday at Texas Department of Transportation headquarters.

   Such higher billboards would be allowed along Texas interstate and primary highways. Current law allows a billboard height of 42.5 feet.

   The change would apply only to communities where local law allows increasing the height.

   Reports from outdoor advertising industry groups say the increase is needed to make the signs visible over treetops and from a distance by motorists driving 70 mph.

   Highway beautification advocates say the change would reverse a half-century of progress made since then-first lady Lady Bird Johnson advocated restricting outdoor advertising that blighted the countryside.

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