Between bouts of rain and trips to the trucks to avoid lightning, Kansas Turnpike Authority workers Wednesday raised a new exit sign to three I-beams along Interstate 70 east of Lawrence.
The sign, one of two raised, touts KU's recent academic and athletic achievements. While the old sign trumpeted the school's four NCAA men's basketball titles, no mention was given to the school's academics.
Increasing research, coupled with the 2008 men's basketball title and a 2008 Orange Bowl victory over Virginia Tech, led the school to put up some new signs, said KU spokesman Jack Martin.
Martin took over the project to purchase and erect new turnpike signs in September, shortly after he was hired by the university.
The exit sign west of Lawrence had come down in a wind storm, and the sign east of town was beginning to fade.
As talks with the KTA continued and the Jayhawks began to show promise in the basketball season, officials decided to hold off on the signs until they saw how the basketball season played out.
Each sign brought a $8,000 price tag, Martin said, paid for by KU.
"And we're glad we did," Martin said.
The new signs have a Jayhawk emblazoned on the top followed by the exit number and three lines touting the university's recent successes:
"An International Research University."
"2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Champions."
"2008 Orange Bowl Champions."
Gary Campbell, road maintenance supervisor for the KTA, said it took about two or three days to assemble the entire sign. The smaller pieces were then hauled out to the interstate, where it took about three hours to piece together and place on the I-beams.
Martin said the signs would be updated next year, replacing "2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Champions" to boast of the five national titles the Jayhawks have under their belt.
"2008 Orange Bowl Champions."
Gary Campbell, road maintenance supervisor for the KTA, said it took about two or three days to assemble the entire sign. The smaller pieces were then hauled out to the interstate where it took about three hours to piece together and place on the I-beams.
Martin said the signs will be updated next year, replacing "2008 NCAA Men's Basketball Champions" to boast of the five national titles the Jayhawks have under their belt.
What determines a highway sign's color?
The Kansas Department of Transportation has a set list of criteria determining what sign gets what color.
Green signs tend to alert travelers to cities and major arts and science institutions within those cities. Brown signs are designated tourist or historical cites.
Lisa Callahan, public relations director for the Kansas Turnpike Authority, said certain entities - such as public universities - were allowed to purchase green signs specifically pointing out successes they have had, which might encourage people to visit.
Those hoping to receive brown signs pointing out either their historical building, society or tourism destination must apply to the state. If the Kansas State Historical Society or the Travel and Tourism Division of the Kansas Department of Commerce and Housing approve the request, the Bureau of Traffic Engineering will erect the sign free of charge.
Callahan said certain entities were prohibited from purchasing signage, including adult-themed businesses, industrial parks and various privately owned businesses.