LEBANON, Missouri- The first of two Interstate 44 billboards promoting Route 66 in Lebanon has been erected facing westbound traffic at the 134.4 mile marker just west of the Sleeper exit.

The billboard’s theme is “Explore the Heart of Route 66.” It includes “The Heart of Route 66” slogan, with logo, that won a 2017 contest held by the Lebanon-Laclede County Route 66 Society. The billboard also includes a Route 66 map showing the approximate locations of Shepherd Hills Factory Outlet, Dowd’s Catfish, Jonesy’s Antiques, Boswell Park, Elm Street Eatery, the Route 66 Museum, The Manor House Inn, Wrinks Market, the Munger Moss Motel and the I-44 Speedway.

The Lebanon City Council approved the billboard at its Oct. 10 meeting (see earlier story below).

The council approved a second billboard with the same design at its Nov. 13 meeting. This one, facing eastbound traffic, is planned for the 123 mile marker. The one-year contract with The Lamar Companies is for $10,300 with money coming from the city’s Tourism Fund 40.

“These billboards are in an effort to pull more travelers off I-44 to spend more time in Lebanon/Laclede County,” Nicole McGinnis, the city’s tourism director, wrote in an informational sheet for the council.

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An Interstate 44 billboard “to showcase Route 66 attractions in Laclede County” was approved Oct. 9 by the Lebanon City Council.

The council approved a one-year lease with The Lamar Companies, which will install and maintain by 20×40 billboard. Total cost is $8,100, with payment from the city’s “Tourism Fund 40.”

The billboard will be at the 134.4 mile marker – about seven miles east of Lebanon – facing eastbound to catch traffic heading toward Springfield from St. Louis.

“Sign is on the right hand side of the road with illumination at night and is in a prime location,” tourism director Nicole McGinnis wrote in a proposal for the council.

McGinnis explained: “Previous billboards were done through the coop marketing with the state that, under the guidelines, had to be at least 50 miles from the location being advertised. It was not effective marketing with travekers often forgetting what they saw 50 miles prior to the exit.

“With this billboard and future billboards, we hope to pull travelers off the interstate showcasing our attractions closer to the exits.”

The city’s Tourism Advisory Committee recommended the billboard agreement at its Aug. 8 meeting.