gateways done

Leon Signs of Tyler applied the lettering Monday morning to the brick gateways located at several spots around the city. The lettering brings the project to completion, well over a year after construction began.

It’s probably safe to say Palestine Economic Development Corporation executive director Brian Malone hasn’t been as happy to see Palestine as he was Monday afternoon.

Malone wasn’t returning from a business trip or a vacation gone bad.

It was the letters.

After more than a year and a half since construction began on the city’s brick gateways, designed to officially welcome visitors at major entry points to the city, the final touch finally was put on – the lettering that read “Palestine.”

Leon Signs of Tyler applied the lettering on Monday morning to the five gateways, located at Loop 256 at Texas 155, Loop 256 at U.S. 287/Texas 19 North, Loop 256 at W. Oak St., Loop 256 at U.S. 84 East, and Loop 256 at E. Palestine Ave.

The approximately $250,000 project was done in conjunction with the Texas Department of Transportation, which provided a grant for roughly half the amount, as well as the locations and right-of-way, aided with the design and provided oversight, including making sure that each step met certain standards.

For example, contracts had to be let for electrical work to extend wiring close enough to some of the gateways for the lighting to be installed. A sprinkler system had to be put in place to keep the landscaping alive during dry months. A special coating had to be applied to the surface to make it graffiti resistant.

Even the lettering – style of material, color, size and even font – had to be approved by the state before it could be applied.

“Because it’s a state contract, you don’t move on until the state releases each step,” Malone said. “TxDOT did the things they were supposed to do. That’s what took so long. TxDOT worked as quickly as it could. It just takes time.”

The project had been discussed for years before being undertaken by PEDC. Community leaders had talked about adding attractive gateways as a “welcome” sign to visitors, Malone said, noting that 369th State District Bascom W. Bentley III in particular had been instrumental in working with officials in Austin.

“Judge Bentley was one of the key ones who continued to push forward and visit with people in Austin,” Malone said. “The mayor (Dr. Carolyn Salter) was very interested, too.”

So were members of the community, who called Malone to ask about the project’s seemingly slow progress.

Now that the letters are up, Malone said he’s very pleased with the way the gateways look.

“They look good, they’re aesthetically pleasing,” he said. “It kind of matches in a historical perspective with some of the buildings downtown. It kind of integrates some of the historical features.”

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Beth Foley may be contacted via e-mail at bfoley@palestineherald.com

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