Kansas City Star

Drive on K-10 or I-70 and you will see signage scattered on the sides of the highway, advertising the many businesses located by an exit.

It could be Wendy’s for food, a BP for gas or a Holiday Inn for lodging. Every few dozen miles or so, you might see a sign covered in logos you have never seen before, for businesses you had no idea were nearby.

The motorist information signs are there to do exactly that — provide motorists with information on what is around them.

So who exactly decides which businesses to feature? Are the signs considered a public service of the state, an attempt by cities to get travelers to stop in town or advertisements paid for by the businesses themselves? Here’s what we found from the Kansas Department of Transportation.

Who pays for highway signs?

No state funding goes toward the Kansas information signs on the highway, since businesses have to pay to be featured. The prices vary depending on the average daily traffic count for each interchange.

The annual price depends on how many vehicles an interchange sees each day on average:

  • 0-19,999 vehicles: $900 on the mainline

  • 20,000-49,999 vehicles: $1,400 on the mainline

  • 50,000-99,999 vehicles: $1,800 on the mainline,

  • 100,000 or more vehicles: $2,300 on the mainline.

All costs are $100 more if the signs are near a ramp.

The cost to get a logo on an information sign is for each direction. So if a business wanted their logo on both sides of the highway, it could cost them anywhere between $2,000 and $4,800.

The Kansas Turnpike only offers pricing for 0-19,999 vehicles and above 20,000 vehicles, and the prices are the same as above. Businesses can apply to get their logo on a highway sign online

How does KDOT pick which businesses are included?

Kansas Logos, a private enterprise that works with KDOT, is responsible for managing the highway signs. They evaluate the eligibility of each site based on the federal Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices.

The signs must comply with federal regulations that control each type of sign program.

What are the sign eligibility requirements for Kansas highways?

Businesses in the five categories need to follow these guidelines to get their logos placed on signs on the Kansas Turnpike and highways across the state.

Gas stations must:

  • Be in continuous operation at least 12 hours per day, seven days per week, including holidays. If fuel is not available, the business must post on the premises the location of the nearest available station.

  • Provide vehicle services like fuel, oil, air and water.

  • Provide restroom facilities, drinking water and a public telephone.

Restaurants must:

  • Provide continuous operation for at least 10 hours per day, six days a week.

  • Host a minimum seating capacity of 20 people. Outdoor seating may be considered in reaching the required capacity.

  • Have an outside entrance and on-site signage that travelers can see if it’s within a mall.

  • Provide a restroom, drinking water and a public telephone.

Hotels and other lodging must:

  • Provide staff availability for check-in 24 hours a day every day of the year.

  • Provide a minimum of 10 units, each with a bathroom and sleeping facilities to accommodate at least two people and one parking stall.

  • Provide public access to a telephone.

Camping locations must:

  • Provide a minimum of 20 spaces.

  • Provide a restroom, water and a public telephone.

  • Provide a sanitary disposal system for travel trailers or motorized campers.

Attractions must:

  • Provide continuous operation, at least six hours per day, five days per week. One of these days must be a Saturday or Sunday, excluding certain holidays.

  • Provide sufficient staff to allow for a significant experience for the traveling motorist for amusement, historical, cultural or leisure activities.

  • Provide modern restroom facilities, drinking water, and public access to a telephone for emergency purposes.

  • Provide parking on site or have available parking for 10 vehicles or whatever is suitable for the specific attraction within two blocks of the attraction. Bus parking must also be available.

  • Have an annual attendance of 2,000 visitors.

  • Clearly denote any general admission charges at the place of entry to the attraction.

Businesses that have logos on signs can only provide service in 3-mile increments, and up to 15 miles. This doesn’t apply in the Kansas City, Wichita and Topeka metro areas, where the maximum distance is 3 miles.

What are rules for the Kansas Turnpike?

The Kansas Turnpike Authority only permits logo signing for both gas station and food and restaurant companies at specific locations on the turnpike. All inquiries must be approved by the KTA first.

Attractions that want their businesses placed on highway signs must apply through the Kansas Department of Commerce’s tourism division, which evaluates the attraction and determines their eligibility. Attractions not on the Kansas Turnpike must also be open for a minimum of eight straight weeks.

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