Stephen F. Austin State University students were welcomed back to campus this week with a new main entrance and limestone signage.

The project at North Street and Griffith Boulevard began last March and included the construction of a new entrance plaza roadway, a large monument sign with the university's name, decorative pillars on Vista Drive, street and traffic signal reconfiguration, and extensive landscaping. A large American flag waves above it all.

"The new SFA entrance was a collaborative effort between the university, the City of Nacogdoches and the Texas Department of Transportation, and the result is a main entrance that is not only beautiful but also safer for Nacogdoches residents and our students," said SFA spokesman Bob Wright.

Replacing traffic lights that were more than 30 years old, new signals have been installed at the old Vista Drive and Griffith Boulevard intersections to better accommodate traffic patterns around the new entrance. All traffic at the new entrance now enters from the southern end of the plaza and exits at the northern end.

The old entrance sign, which was constructed in the mid-1960s, was removed from the site in pieces and reconstructed at the northern end of Homer Bryce Stadium near the field house.

"As soon as we announced there would be a new sign at the main entrance, we began receiving phone calls from alumni - particularly older alumni - who have very fond memories of the old sign and wanted to make sure it would be preserved in some way," SFA President Baker Pattillo said.

"It was decided the old sign would have a new home at the football stadium where it can be seen and enjoyed by our students, alumni and fans for many years to come."

The limestone pillars placed at the entrance to Vista Drive from the new plaza roadway are a historical nod to pillars that framed the original Vista Drive entrance beginning in the early 1920s.

"I think the new entrance looks very impressive and has a more prestigious feel," said SFA senior Haley Sailers of Hideaway. "When you drive in, you know you are in a special place."

Within the past year, complementary limestone signage also has been placed at the corner of North and East College streets and outside the university's two newest academic buildings, the Early Childhood Research Center on Raguet Street and the DeWitt School of Nursing on North Street.