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A sign of the times: Oklahoma's front yard welcomes visitors in a new way

Staff Writer
The Shawnee News-Star

Visitors to our state soon will see a new roadside greeting when entering Oklahoma via highway or interstate. Following the announcement of the new state logo by Lt. Gov. and Secretary of Tourism and Branding Matt Pinnell on Wednesday, large roadside welcome signs are initially being installed at 10 major entry points along highways and interstates in the next few days, covering all six neighboring states. Additionally, 75 smaller signs in other border areas are being erected statewide during the next few months. The department worked with the Lt. Gov.’s office and its creative team to produce these signs, putting Oklahoma’s best face forward to travelers entering the state.

“Our welcome signs are part of our first impression for visitors to our state. We have refreshed and re-energized the spirit of Oklahoma and we want to show that to visitors right as they drive in. I’m looking forward to changing perceptions of Oklahoma, starting at the state line,” Pinnell said.

The welcome sign structures, many of which were in need of replacement, are being swapped with the colorful, new “Welcome to Oklahoma” greeting without incurring additional costs. The average life span of signs is about 10 years and many of the current signs have lasted two to three decades and will be repurposed as recycled materials. The department was able to coordinate replacement timing with the new branding. With the interstates and highways being Oklahoma's front yard, the welcome signs are only one component of the branding efforts across the state.

The first of 10 signs, which spans 20 feet x 10 feet, was installed on US-69/75 south of Durant Wednesday. The rest of the 10 will be in place by the weekend, weather permitting, and then smaller 8 feet x 4 feet signs at other entry points statewide during the next few months. These signs were manufactured and installed at a total cost of more than $150,000 using federal dollars dedicated for signage and other traffic improvements. Additional considerations in the next few months include low-maintenance, native Oklahoma landscaping and possibly refurbishing granite welcome signs.

“We're excited to be a part of the Lt. Gov's branding efforts by breathing new life into the welcome signs, many of which needed refurbishing. This is a positive way to represent the state and greet our visitors,” said Tim Gatz, Oklahoma Secretary of Transportation.

Pinnell assembled more than 100 of Oklahoma’s creative professionals to help rebrand the state. Following the brand reveal on Wednesday, his team began a statewide implementation process that includes changing the welcome signage statewide.

The initial 10 major entry point sign locations include:

US-69 at the Texas line

I-35 at the Texas line

I-35 at the Kansas line

I-40 at the Texas line

I-40 at the Arkansas line

I-44 at the Texas line

I-44 at the Missouri line

US-56 at the New Mexico line

US-287 at the Colorado line

US-271 at the Arkansas line