Planned signs with big blue horse won't be ready for WEG

One hundred signs that were to guide visitors to Lexington highlights during the Alltech FEI World Equestrian Games will not be in place by the start of the Games, a city official said Monday.

Sign maker Architectural Graphics Inc. of Norfolk, Va., found a defect in the welds, city spokeswoman Susan Straub said.

The city has not received the signs, which are to feature a big blue horse named Big Lex, and doesn't know when they will be finished, Straub said in an e-mail message.

"Needless to say, we are very irritated about this," she said.

Straub said about 15 concrete foundations for the signs are finished and eight more sites are ready for concrete to be poured.

Work to establish the sign program began in 2002, well before Lexington was tapped as the site of the 2010 Games, according to Kevin Wente, the city's manager for the program.

He had planned to phase in the signs, first placing them on all the major corridors into town from the interstates, and on Versailles Road and downtown.

Large signs — 6 feet wide and 9 feet tall — were to be erected on major corridors such as Newtown Pike and at interstate exits to direct travelers to 11 major destinations, including the American Saddlebred Museum, Rupp Arena and the University of Kentucky, that draw at least 75,000 visitors a year.

Smaller signs — 3 feet wide and 5 feet tall — were to be posted throughout downtown and other areas to direct people to 35 smaller attractions, such as the Downtown Arts Center, the Headley-Whitney Museum and Woodland Park.

The Urban County Council voted to borrow $1 million for the program — $400,000 for the initial set of signs and $600,000 for upkeep and additional signs.

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