Thursday, March 03, 2011

A Better Roadway Signage Option For Attractions

Road signs were a part of my previous life in destination marketing so, even though I’m now retired, it is impossible for me not to spot solutions and best practices on recent cross country road trips.

I’ll pass on at least one in particular from February’s trip to the head of DCVB, who teaming with Chamber leadership, is still tying up some loose ends on sign projects I left unsolved, one of which was requested by the Durham Performing Arts Center and another by Nasher Museum of Art and the Sarah P. Duke Gardens.Logo Sign

They all want and deserve good signage on the Durham Freeway (NC-147) and the two Interstates that dissect Durham, I-85 and I-40. The former is a north-south Interstate which happens to run east and west through Durham but that’s another story and another signage challenge.

Much more effective for travelers than big outdoor billboards are the logo signs you see at both Interstate and other US and state highways as you travel across the country. First used for gas, lodging and food, they are now used in some states for attractions such as the one shown in this blog from Oregon.

The signs are valuable for several reasons. One, they smooth or control the flow of traffic by giving travelers, including visitors, newcomers and established residents more certainty. Two, they alert pass-through traffic to points of interest for future trips and three, they reduce sign clutter by consolidating signage and protecting the view-shed by eliminating the need for huge, inefficient and distracting outdoor billboards.

The logo signs are self-funded by the businesses and organizations they promote. In Oregon for example, along the heavily traveled I-5 through the cities around Portland, a logo sign is $480 per year per direction. Supplemental logo signs, which indicate the direction after a driver exits the Interstate, run another $180 per year. They are less at other locations in Oregon depending on traffic density I suspect. I also spotted them being used for attractions, not just food, lodging and gas in New Mexico.

The Durham Freeway is a real problem as it cuts past Downtown. There are simply too many signs, too many exits in too tight of an area. I’m sure it has already been considered but it seems to me the logo signs can be the solution to eliminating a lot of signs and at the same time greatly benefit travelers and traffic control, not to mention the impression made on travelers at that particular gateway to Durham.

In North Carolina, the cost to be on a logo sign is standard statewide at $300 per sign per year. The rate is the same per direction and for each supplemental sign to guide travelers beyond the exit.

The program was authorized nationwide in 1972 but it is managed differently from state to state within the federal guidelines. Click on the links above for more information or go to your state’s transportation website and put “logo signs” in the search box.

1 comment:

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