Tourist oriented directional signs

Overview

Tourist-Oriented Directional Signs (TODS) provide motorists with directional information for qualifying tourist-related businesses, services or activities. Tourist-related businesses, whose major portion of income or visitors is derived from visitors who do not reside in the immediate area where the business is located, qualify for TODS. The business cannot have direct access to a state or U.S. highway, but must be located within five miles of the state or U.S. highway on which TODS are to be installed.

Location

  • On highway right of way
  • Along non-SIS highways outside of urban areas with a population of 5,000 or greater
  • At-grade intersections only
  • At the intersections of state or U.S. Highways with local or county roadways

Categories

  • Food, Gas, Lodging, Camping, and Attractions meeting certain criteria (see below)

Size and Material

  • Standard: 72"x21"
  • Where limited right of way exists: 48"x14"
  • White lettering on blue, reflective sheeting
  • Base material is aluminum, with rounded corners

Fabrication

  • Requesting business is responsible for ensuring signs are manufactured to state standards and for covering costs.

Installation and Maintenance

  • County highway department

Installation Costs

  • Requesting business is responsible for the respective installation costs. Businesses with existing TODS are also responsible for repair and replacement costs.

Relevant law, code, manual

Application and Questions

  • Contact county highway department
  • TODS program is managed for WisDOT by county highway departments

Criteria

Businesses qualify for TODS in five categories:

  • Gasoline
    Must have vehicle services including fuel, oil and water. Must be open at least 12 hours per day, seven days per week if located on a conventional highway, or at least 16 hours per day, seven days per week if located on an expressway. Must also provide restrooms, drinking water, and a public telephone.
  • Food
    Must be open five days per week from at least 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. and have at least 50 percent of gross receipts from food and non-alcoholic beverage sales. Must have licensing or approval where required, and provide a restroom, drinking water, and a public telephone.
  • Lodging
    Includes hotels, motels, resorts, boarding houses or bed & breakfast establishments. Must have adequate sleeping and parking accommodations, and have licensing or approval where required. Must provide restrooms, drinking water, and a public telephone.
  • Camping
    Must have adequate parking accommodations, and have licensing or approval where required. Must provide restrooms, drinking water, and a public telephone.
  • Tourist attraction
    Must be open at least eight hours per day, five days per week for at least three consecutive months and provide restrooms and drinking water. The attraction must also be of significant interest to the traveling public and have licensing or approval where required.

TODS prohibited in some cases

  • TODS are prohibited from being posted inside federal urban areas, and for businesses located inside federal urban areas. Contact your county highway department.
  • Highways designated as Specific Information Sign (SIS) highways (most freeways and expressways) prohibit TODS.
  • Businesses with illegal outdoor advertising, or with permitted outdoor advertising within 1000' of the intersection where TODS would be installed, cannot be permitted TODS.

Total Costs

The TODS program is self-funded. No state or federal funds support the program. All administration, manufacturing and installation costs are paid by applicants.

TODS signs are estimated to last 10 years, but administrative fees are collected for permit renewals on a 5-year basis. Total estimated costs over the 10-year period are around $550/sign ($55/year or about one dollar per week for each sign).

Estimated costs over 10 years:

  • Administration fee $100/sign for a 5-year permit ($20/year fee)
  • Estimated manufacturing costs approximately $100-150/sign (Costs vary based on sign and manufacturer)
  • Installation fee $250/sign
  • Total estimated cost over 10-year sign lifespan approximately $550-600/sign

To obtai​n a TODS

  1. Contact the county highway department in which the sign will be located to obtain a TODS application (form DT1864).
  2. Complete the application (form DT1864) and attach a check for $100 payable to the county (this is the administration fee for a 5-year period). If you don’t qualify for the program, or there isn’t room for a TODS at the desired location, the check will be returned.
  3. Businesses that qualify for a TODS will receive a list of qualified TODS sign manufacturers. Contact as many manufacturers as you wish to get the best price.
  4. Bring or ship the signs to the county highway department and provide a check for $250/sign payable to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (this is the installation fee).
  5. The county highway department will install the sign.

For more information

Contact your county highway department, or you may contact:

Casey Amans
Transportation Specialist
WisDOT Bureau of Traffic Operations
Phone: (608) 245​-5344
E-mail: casey.amans@dot.wi.gov

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