U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey was in Lower Merion Monday to tout a bill that would block the U.S. Transportation Department from requiring municipalities to install a certain kind of street sign whenever they replace an existing sign.
The Pennsylvania Republican portrayed the bill as part of his overall effort to stop the federal government from interfering in issues that would be better left to local elected officials.
Three members of the 14-member Lower Merion board of commissioners appeared with the freshman senator during a press conference at the township building in Ardmore.
Board president Elizabeth Rogan, a recently reelected Democrat, thanked Toomey for interceding with Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood to let communities with "historical monument" signs keep them, instead of having to replace them all by 2018 with a certain kind of reflective metal sign.
That would have cost Lower Merion $1.5 million.
The Main Line township has distinctive clay signs, and Rogan said: "Our history and our heritage is really embodied in our street signs."
LaHood has since rescinded the general requirement for all communities to replace signs. But Toomey said federal regulation remains ambiguous on whether communities would still have to use the newer signs whenever they replace an old one.
He said his bill would address that.
"That's a case of the federal government overstepping its bounds," he said.
The bill is called "the SIGN Act," Toomey said - "stop intrusive government now."
Toomey also encouraged constituents and communities to report difficulties with government red tape on the new "Had enough?" section of his website, toomey.senate.gov/hadenough.
While in Lower Merion, Toomey talked to reporters about the gridlock in Washington over extension of unemployment compensation benefits and a payroll tax cut.
He predicted both will be extended. He said he didn't know for how long - probably until after the November 2012 elections.