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Another Triangle sports team honored with a highway sign on Interstate 40

The St. Augustine’s University Falcons won the Division II men’s outdoor track and field championship in 2017 for the fifth year in a row. The win earns them a highway sign marking the honor.
The St. Augustine’s University Falcons won the Division II men’s outdoor track and field championship in 2017 for the fifth year in a row. The win earns them a highway sign marking the honor.

A new sign is up along Interstate 40 in Wake County honoring a college sports team, and this time the team is from right here in Raleigh.

Last week, state Department of Transportation workers erected a sign marking the 2017 NCAA Division II championship for the St. Augustine’s University men’s outdoor track and field team. The green sign with white letters stands along eastbound I-40 near the Rock Quarry Road exit.

St. Aug’s track sign.jpg
This highway sign honoring the St. Augustine’s University track and field team was put up along Interstate 40 near Rock Quarry Road last week. St. Augustine's University

The sign was the second approved by the state Board of Transportation under a new program that allows colleges and universities to pay for official state highway signs to honor their championship sports teams. Schools pay $2,000 a piece for the signs, which must come down within two years.

The first set of signs approved by the board commemorated the UNC-Chapel Hill men’s basketball national championship in 2017. UNC paid for eight signs along interstate highways, including two along I-40 in Wake County — one on the westbound side near the Durham County line and the other on the eastbound side near the North Harrison Avenue interchange in Cary.

Vandals soon took down the Harrison Avenue sign, apparently because they considered it too close to PNC Arena, home of UNC rival N.C. State University. It was put back up last summer near Aviation Parkway, two miles farther west of the arena, and has remained untouched.

The NC Department of Transportation is putting up another sign commemorating UNC's 2017 national basketball championship, this time in a spot on Interstate 40 it hopes rival NC State University fans find a more respectful distance from PNC Arena.

None of the UNC-Chapel Hill signs are in Orange County; there are four on I-85 and I-95 at the Virginia and South Carolina state lines and one each along I-40 at the Tennessee line and on southbound I-85 near I-77 in Charlotte. The signs in Wake were ostensibly to greet visitors arriving at Raleigh-Durham International Airport.

For St. Aug’s, the 2017 national championship was the fifth in a row for the men’s outdoor track and field team, but the first since NCDOT began erecting highway signs for sports team. The university has consistently fielded champion track teams under longtime coach George Williams, a St. Aug’s graduate who has won 39 NCAA Division II track and field titles in his career.

Video: St. Augustine’s University track coach George Williams is working as a personal coach for four Olympic athletes who will participate in the 2016 Games in Rio next month. Williams works with athletes Roxroy Cato, Burkheart Ellis Jr.,Jeffery

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Richard Stradling covers transportation for The News & Observer. Planes, trains and automobiles, plus ferries, bicycles, scooters and just plain walking. Also, #census2020. He’s been a reporter or editor for 32 years, including the last 19 at The N&O. 919-829-4739, rstradling@newsobserver.com.


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