New Wayfinding Signage System Helps Motorists/Visitors in Frederick

Faced with a situation that included a lack of consistent signage as well as visitors and residents attempting to navigate with incomplete, out-of-date or faded signage, the fabrication and installation of a comprehensive Wayfinding system is a critical component of the community’s efforts to promote, preserve and enhance the vitality of Downtown Frederick and Frederick overall.    (Click to enlarge images)

The resulting signage will market the wealth of experiences to be found in the community.  In addition to adding new signs, the old and out of date signs also will be removed. The Wayfinding planning process kicked off more than six years ago with an effort to change the proposed signage related to the improvements to Interstate 70.  The City of Frederick, Downtown Frederick Partnership and the Tourism Council of Frederick County all partnered together and contributed the funds necessary to add the word “Downtown” to the new East Street exit. 

This fiscal and planning partnership has continued throughout the entire six+ year process.  The funds invested in the exit ramp signage were matched with grant funds from the National Scenic Byway and the State of Maryland’s Neighborhood Business Works program.  Together, these sources of funding enabled Downtown Frederick Partnership to hire MERJE to launch the planning and design of a comprehensive Wayfinding program. 

The Wayfinding planning process involved the general public, stakeholders from the various cultural and historic attractions, downtown merchants and official approval bodies in the effort to design and plan a new signage system for Frederick.  Numerous meetings were held, resulting in design and location approval of the Downtown Frederick Wayfinding System by The City of Frederick Mayor and Board of Aldermen in October 2009. The final sign package was sent out to bid in the spring of 2009.  The contract for installation and fabrication was awarded late in the summer of 2009.  Since that time, the fabricator has been finalizing exact signage locations, creating final construction documents and creating samples for review and approval. 

“Several hundred million dollars has been invested in the revitalization of Downtown Frederick in terms of public infrastructure and private rehabilitation and construction since the devastating floods of the 1970’s – this new state-of-the-art Wayfinding system is critical to ensure that investment is maximized by patrons of downtown,” said Richard Griffin, Director of The City of Frederick Department of Economic Development.

While the design process was wrapping up, Downtown Frederick Partnership led an effort to raise the necessary funds for project implementation.  Implementation will cost about $700,000 – significantly under the initially proposed budget.  Project funding sources include The City of Frederick, Preserve America, the Maryland Heritage Areas Authority, the Tourism Council of Frederick County and the State of Maryland’s Department of Housing and Community Development’s Main Street Improvement Program. 

“Downtown Frederick Partnership has been proud to take on the roll of facilitator and convener to bring together the many people, agencies and funding sources to ensure a project of this magnitude and importance comes to fruition in Downtown Frederick, “ said Kara Norman, Executive Director of Downtown Frederick Partnership. 

The resulting system includes gateway, vehicular, parking and pedestrian signage.  The gateway signage will include the placement of signs welcoming visitors to The City of Frederick as well as Downtown Frederick at key intersections.  The vehicular signage will guide drivers to their intended destinations.  The parking signage is multi-layered and will include information directing drivers to the most appropriate parking garage, new signage placed on the garages that includes the name of each facility and additional signage, including banners and murals, to help drivers identify parking garage entrances when they are hidden from view.  The parking garages also will have additional internal signage to guide exiting drivers to the nearest interstate or highway to assist visitors trying to leave Frederick.  Finally, the pedestrian signage will guide those visiting Downtown Frederick on foot.  Key intersections will have signage to point pedestrians to area local attractions.  Pedestrians also will be guided by new and improved kiosks located at key points throughout Downtown Frederick. 

“The Tourism Council is always evaluating how our area appears from the perspective of first time visitors.  Obviously, easily finding your way somewhere makes a far better first impression than if you get lost.  We are excited about the new system.  There are more messages that could have been included, but the system represents a balance between providing enough guidance and respecting the historic character of downtown,” said John Fieseler, Executive Director of the Tourism Council of Frederick County.

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