After years of planning, Wytheville is installing $859,000 worth of signs around town to help pedestrians and motorists navigate local streets and find points of interest in the community. Officials have said that a comprehensive sign system is a key element of downtown revitalization. They hope it will welcome visitors and lure them to local businesses and attractions.
Crews are working throughout town laying the sign foundations and brickwork. Todd Wolford, executive director of Downtown Wytheville, Inc., said that there are three sizes of signs, but they are all consistent in appearance.
“It all looks the same, so it is easy to navigate,” he said. “It’s for visitors, really; residents don’t need signs.”
The three types of signs are:
Gateway – large signs placed near interstate exits to direct motorists into town. Locations include Peppers Ferry Road, East Main Street and Fourth Street.
Vehicular Trailblazer – signs along roads that will direct motorists.
Pedestrian – signs you can stop and read while walking.
The signs will direct people to the parking lots at McWane Pool and Elizabeth Brown Memorial Park, where there will be kiosks and maps to direct them around town. Also, there will be maps on light poles to help people find their way.
Wolford said the new system will help with the town’s overall appearance.
“We had a lot of sign clutter here,” he said. “You don’t realize it because you don’t use them to get around. But when we started looking at it from the visitors’ perspective, it’s a miracle people could get where they needed to go, and some of them didn’t.”
Wolford said a lot of planning goes into a wayfinding system. For example, consultants compiled an assessment of all existing signs in town, gathered input from residents on important destinations and determined the locations for various signs. The distance between each new sign is calculated so drivers will know they are headed in the right direction and will not turn around.
“I could not believe what all went into it,” Wolford said. “Many communities have wayfinding systems with the main goal of cleaning up the sign clutter and maintaining a level of clear and concise and consistent sign messaging. And it also says a lot about the way others view your community and the overall experience while they are here. We are proud of what we have come up with for this project and we feel that it is a continued progression in the right direction and positive change to our community.”
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