History of the ODOT’s logo, a.k.a. the “zephyr."
On June 30, 1972, Governor John Gilligan signed a bill into law creating the Ohio Department of Transportation.
Prior to that, the part of state government which dealt with highways was known as the Department of Highways, and highways were all the department was concerned with. But the new ODOT, did and still does, include all forms of transportation - highways and bicycle paths, railroads, water and air travel.
Shortly after ODOT was formed, a contest was held to develop a new logo, or emblem for ODOT. The new emblem was adopted in December 1972. It was submitted by Randy Witherspoon of the Public Information staff at ODOT’s Central Office in Columbus.
ODOT officials were looking for a symbol showing mobility without confinement or limitation. They felt an abstract creation would be best, so the emblem would fit future transportation concepts, as well as concepts which were current in 1972.
The symbol started out blue and white, and over time, other colors were tried, including red, until the familiar road sign green became the final, lasting color.
Some people describe the center of the emblem as a wing. Others call it a zephyr, which is really a soft, gentle breeze. No matter what you call the symbol, it depicts forward movement, and that what the Ohio Department of Transportation attempts to do, move forward, to meet the needs of the citizens of Ohio.