Shapes, colors, words and symbols are a part of the message of signs produced by the Oklahoma Department of Transportation Central Sign Shop

About 20,000 signs are made at the Oklahoma state sign shop each fiscal year
by Bryan Painter Published: September 2, 2012

“Plus, generally between 12 to 14 years is the life span of our sheeting. We replace right around that time, if it's not needed before that.”

At the sign shop

After looking at the requisition, an employee pulls a sign pattern, and a silk screen to transfer the pattern is prepared. At this stage, a light table is used to take a picture of the pattern, which goes onto the silk screen.

A tag, placed on the frame of the silk screen, lists the field division, the number of signs to be made, the color of the sign and the type of cover sheeting that will be used.

Sheeting is placed on blank signs according to the request of the field division.

Ink is placed on the signs and then they are put on racks to be dried for shipment to the field divisions.

That's for mass-produced signs.

The state sign shop doesn't print for private entities, but other government agencies can pay to have signs made at that location.

“Some of those are temporary signs, such as those we did in the state's centennial year,” Angier said. “We'll put those up and leave them up for a few years. Because they're temporary, we use things we already have and we don't put the 12- to 14-year sheeting on because there's no need. That saves cost.”

And while savings are always an issue, recycling is important.

Overall, the cost of refurbishing a sign and then putting it back up is a savings of about 25 percent, “so it can really save a lot of the taxpayers' money.”

Still impressed

Angier points out that besides standards for signs there is consideration given to the volume of signs in an area and trying to avoid saturation.

“You could put up so many signs that they can become confusing and therefore don't matter to people,” she said.

So, more is not necessarily better.

However, White walks over and stands next to where some screens are kept, looking for the one used for bridge clearance information.

“These were 6 feet long and now they're 6½ feet long and 24 inches wide,” he said. “That goes with the thinking that the bigger the sign is better.”

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by Bryan Painter
Assistant Local Editor
Bryan Painter, assistant local editor, has 31 years’ experience in journalism, including 22 years with the state's largest newspaper, The Oklahoman. In that time he has covered such events as the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah...
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They're huge. They're 4 feet by 5 feet, and you wouldn't know that if you're driving on the road.”

Marco White

Manager of the Oklahoma Department of Transportation Central Sign Shop, on the size of turnpike road signs

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