You’ll know you’re near East Tennessee State University while driving down West State of Franklin Road, if not by the big white Mini Dome and tall bricked classroom buildings and sprawling parking lots, then by the new school initials now adorning the pedestrian bridge spanning the road between the Millennium Centre and campus.
The letters “E,” “T,” “S” and “U” were placed Saturday on both sides of the pedestrian walkway, which is owned by the city but which ETSU students use frequently to access classes held on the other side of State of Franklin. Traffic was slowed Saturday for a time while workers welded the signs in place and wiring was connected.
“The good thing about this is it really symbolizes the great relationship between the city and ETSU,” said university spokesman Joe Smith. “Essentially this is a partnership between ETSU and the City of Johnson City.”
The bridge letters also create good recognition for campus as that section of State of Franklin is heavily traveled, Smith said. The signage of blue lettering against a white background is clearly visible from a good distance.
Smith said many people or alumni who have been away from Johnson City for a while would immediately notice the growth of the State of Franklin corridor that runs along ETSU, and the new signage goes right along with the increased development in the area.
The signage will be illuminated at night by LEDs, which are more energy efficient, Smith said.
The letters cost $38,000 plus an installation fee. That cost was covered by ETSU.
Smith said the new signage was planned for a few months and many things had to be considered for the placement of the letters, especially considering the volume of traffic along that section of road.
“There was an extensive approval process,” Smith said. “It’s a wonderful, I think, recognition of campus. I think it’s a good way to have a permanent symbol of the partnership with the city.”
A formal dedication event for the new signage is planned for Thursday at 1 p.m. It will be in Parking Lot 26, which is directly across State of Franklin from the Carnegie Hotel. The public is invited to this event. A reception on the pedestrian bridge will follow remarks by ETSU President Paul Stanton, Johnson City Mayor Jeff Banyas and others.