Crews begin removal of controversial 'I Love New York' signs

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DIX HILLS -

Crews have begun removing hundreds of the controversial "I Love New York" tourism signs.

The state began installing the 500-plus signs several years ago, despite being told by federal officials they are against regulations because they are too big.

Critics of the signs say they're also distracting to drivers.

"They stick out," says Joe Oliveri, of Hauppauge. "Do we really need all that?"

Tourists say they like the signs because it's part of the "pride of New York."

The signs were put up in groups of five, but now DOT officials say under an agreement, the first sign in each group will remain with modifications.

The other four signs will be relocated to service areas, welcome centers and state-owned facilities.

Taxpayers paid $8 million for the signs to be made and installed.

The state faced losing $14 million in federal highway funding over the signs.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo defends the signs, saying they help the state's $100 billion tourism industry.

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