Picture this – as you drive along Interstate 30 you see big letters mounted on concrete blocks that spell out F-O-R-T W-O-R-T-H welcome you to the city. Like the Hollywood sign, but better.
It’s a simple enough idea, but the Fort Worth sign art project has numerous roadblocks during the past 12 years.
The Fort Worth monument sign, whose cost is estimated to be nearly $500,000, started as a beautification project for the east side of Fort Worth. Planning began in 2004 when the project received a $265,000 Governor’s Community Achievement Award, intended to promote public art projects.
Because the sign was to welcome travelers along I-30, all project plans required approval from the Federal Highway Administration. Further hurdles developed when the artist initially involved in the project withdrew for personal reasons.
The most recent blow has forced the project off the interstate highway, with its high volume of tourist traffic, and onto a commuter thoroughfare.
Sandra Baker covers the city beat for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. Martha Peters of The Arts Council of Fort Worth told Baker that planners were 90 percent through the TxDOT approval process for the I-30 site when permission from the federal government was revoked.
“They were ready to get it off the ground this spring like they were supposed to, and then for some unknown reason the Federal Highway Administration put the breaks on the project,” Baker says. “They gave no reason.”
The preferred new site for the sign is along SH-121. Baker says that although more cars pass the highway compared to I-30, it will not reach the project’s intended audience of Texas travelers.
“It’s not too far from the I-30 location, but it is not the same impact,” Baker says. “121 is a commuter highway. People who live in eastern Tarrant County and over in Dallas County that come into downtown Fort Worth and the west side of Fort Worth to work– that’s who will see the sign.”
Written by Rachel Rascoe.