Wiped off the map

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SHERMAN, Tex. -- In August, TX-DOT officials placed a patch on about 40 signs along Highway 75. The pieces of metal covered up 'Sherman,’ and replacing it with McKinney. They say just drive through McKinney and you'll see why.

Traveling the busy Dallas freeways, the towering skyline shows progress and population. Thousands of people drive these paths everyday. As you head north, instead of taking US 75 toward Sherman it's McKinney instead.

"It's like, oh no, we've just been wiped off 40 signs in the middle of Dallas that directs people our way, and being tourism those signs are a big help to what we do here," says Shawnda Raines, Sherman tourism director.

Raines says she did not know about the change until Dallas news stations called to get her opinion on the issue. She called other city officials, and say they were not told about it either.

"Being creatures of habit, whenever we've fabricated the signs we may have just automatically put Sherman on there without doing a thorough evaluation to see OK, does McKinney qualify," says Kelli Petras, a TX-DOT spokesperson.

TX-DOT officials say McKinney city leaders requested the change, citing a manual of uniform traffic code that TX-DOT follows for its operations. It states for non-interstate roadways like Highway 75, the signs should show the next county seat or a city considered to be a 'significant destination.'

In the opinion of McKinney officials, their city has fit the bill for at least the past 10 years.

"As soon as we realized it we changed the sign to fix our mistake," Petras says.

When the highway opened for traffic in the 19-30's, US 75 did not run through the Collin County seat's city limits. A population boom in the past 20 years has stretched this city's borders.

The census bureau lists McKinney as the fastest growing city in the nation, for cities with populations of more than 50,000 people. More than 100,000 people live in McKinney today, opposed to just 15,000 in the 19-70s.

"It shows of demonstrates the amount of growth that we've seen especially up here in Collin County and in the entire state of Texas," Petras says.

Raines says recent development along Highway 75 in Sherman can only help attract visitors to town. They can't measure how many people stop because of signs, but the change is a devastating blow.
"It puts our name right there in the center of a lot of people and that's what was really hard it that we lost 40 signs. Sherman's name was there 40 times in Dallas and it's just been wiped of a little piece of metal. So, that was hard," Raines says.

Now that the change has been made, there's only one sign. It's north of Anna and shows drivers they're twenty miles from Sherman.

It's a world of difference from what the signage used to be.

TX-DOT officials say they cannot place the names of both cities on the signs for various reasons. First, they say one reason they approved the project was because they could spend $25,000 total to add the metal patch onto existing signs.

It would have cost at least $100,000 per sign to create new ones that could fit both names. The traffic code manual is also very specific on what city or cities are listed on a sign.

Interstates have different federal rules which is why I-35 in Gainesville lists Oklahoma City and not Ardmore, which is technically the next county seat.

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