CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Signage on West Virginia's interstate and U.S. highway routes should be a bit more decipherable thanks to a relatively new font showing up across the state.
Dubbed "Clearview" by its creators, the font has started becoming more common on highway signs across the country since its interim approval by the Federal Highway Administration in 2004.
In West Virginia, Interstate 77 north of Charleston and Interstate 64 in the Huntington area have already had older signs replaced by new ones featuring the Clearview font.
Signs along Interstate 70 in the Northern Panhandle started being replaced with the new font this year, and the next mass-sign replacement project is scheduled for U.S. 50, followed by Interstate 79.
"All of the interstate signage is generally going to be using the font," said Carrie Bly, a spokeswoman for the state Department of Transportation.
The new Clearview typeface was the result of studies and research during the 1990s and 2000s at the Pennsylvania Transportation Institute at Penn State University and the Texas Transportation Institute at Texas A&M University.
Designers of the font included Larchmont, N.Y.-based Meeker & Associates and Terminal Design, Inc., based in Brooklyn, N.Y.
As a result of the research, Pennsylvania and Texas were among the earliest states to begin using Clearview. In addition to Pennsylvania, Maryland, Virginia and Ohio are other West Virginia neighbors that are among the 30 or so states that have started using the newer font.
Clearview has been shown to increase legibility and visibility, at least on "positive contrast" signs, or those with light lettering on a green, blue or brown background. The visibility changes appear to be the greatest for older drivers and those with vision impairments, especially when viewed from a distance.
"In general, it's easier to read," Bly said. "Anything we can do to increase visibility is great."
But, the Clearview font is still not the official font recommended for use by the Federal Highway Administration, and individual states must request interim approval from the agency to use the font, which West Virginia did a few years ago.