Crews have started removing hundreds of New York interstate highway tourism signs that the federal government said the Cuomo administration installed illegally.

The state Department of Transportation says Thursday that the agency and Thruway Authority have begun removing the "I Love NY'' signs located along the Thruway and other state highways.

The state began installing the 500-plus signs in groups of five several years ago, despite being told by federal officials that they didn't comply with U.S. regulations regarding highway signage.

DOT officials say under an agreement with the Federal Highway Administration, the first sign in each group will remain with modifications, while the next four in each group will be relocated to service areas, welcome centers and state-owned facilities.

The Trump and Cuomo administrations have been battling for months over the signs on the Thruway. The state was faced with a tough choice, as if they refused to take the signs down, they were slated to lose $14 million in funding from the FHA.

The signs cost about $8 million to install.

The Associated Press contributed to information in this report.