Friday, December 2, 2022

Unique Taylor Road Signage is Brainchild of UM Grad

Cindy Wall Rich-1
Cindy Wall

When traveling East on the Highway 6 Oxford bypass, drivers will notice notice an engraved sign on the new Old Taylor Road Bridge which says THE UNIVERSITY OF MISSISSIPPI.
This impressive branding is the idea of an Ole Miss alumna, Cindy Wall Rich.
The new four-lane bridge is the center piece of the two-lane roundabout scheduled to open next month. The bridge with pedestrian lane was carefully designed to be esthetically pleasing and to tie in with other design elements on campus and in Oxford.
The University Of Mississippi knows how to brand. Photo by Ed Meek
The University Of Mississippi knows how to brand. Photo by Ed Meek

The idea for the signage and enrichment of what could otherwise be a traditional bridge came from Cindy Wall Rich, Vice President/Engineer Manager of Neel-Schaffer, Inc., design firm with corporate headquarters in Jackson. Rich received a degree in Civil Engineering at Ole Miss in 1980 and she was the design engineer for the Old Taylor Road project.
Ole Miss loyalty runs deep in Rich’s family. Her father, the late Damon Wall, was the recruiter for the Ole Miss Engineering School for several decades. She served on the Engineering School Advisor Board for many years.
“I was glad I could do a little something nice for Ole Miss and Oxford, something that will enrich the community and have a lasting value,” she said. “The sign was not a high-cost item, but when combined with the light poles, tuned to coordinate with the color of the railing along the pedestrian lane, the signage will be esthetically pleasing and fit well with the South Lamar bridge and elements on campus.”
In addition to name of the University, the bridge features two large bronze Lyceum plaques at each end of the pedestrian lane.
Several meetings were held with University, Oxford and Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT) officials by the Neel-Schaffer firm, which was engaged to design the roundabout. Gorman Schaffer, one of the firm’s founders, is also an Ole Miss engineering graduate. Neel-Schaffer, Inc., employs 400 people in offices across the Southeast.
Oxford Mayor Pat Patterson said, “I wish I could claim this idea. It was a good idea especially with all of the Mississippi State Engineers at the Mississippi Department of Transportation (MDOT).”
The roundabout and bridge are being constructed at a cost of $6,827,427 by Talbot Brothers of Nesbit. “The bridge will be open on schedule in August, but the project will not be totally finished as lighting and other elements are added,” Rich said.
She added that a “launch meeting” has been held by MDOT and others involved in the West Jackson-Highway 6 interchange, which will be under construction soon. Talbot Brothers will be the contractor for that project as well.
Videos that show the operation of both projects can be viewed here:


Here are some other settings in which Ole Miss has shrewdly advanced its brand around Mississippi, the nation and the world:
Lyceum and bridge pics 015
The Water Tower on campus can’t be missed.

Club car
Even golf carts are branded with the Ole Miss name.

Madonna’s daughter next to an Ole Miss orientation bag.

The Grove experience and Hotty Toddy have iconic significance around the country.

Even children’s books, like this one by Kathryn Richardson Hood, enjoyed by youngsters around the nation, are based on iconic Ole Miss scenes.

Actor James Franco recently starred in a movie based on William Faulkner’s work As I Lay Dying.

And the world famous Rebelettes do their part to promote Ole Miss in the best possible way.

stadium sign close-up
Finally, Ole Miss football and Vaught-Hemingway Stadium will be packed this year with fans envisioning an attempt at a national championship and SEC crown. That journey will be broadcast around the country.

Ed Meek is publisher of and Experience Oxford.