Portland prepares to update directional signs

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PORTLAND — Drivers navigating city streets may soon find it easier to reach their destinations, thanks to new wayfinding signs being developed by the city.

With $50,000 in funding from the Portland Area Comprehensive Transportation System, the city is creating a system of signs that will replace a hodgepodge collection of aging — and sometimes inaccurate – signs that have accumulated over the years.

The new signs have two goals, according to Jan Beitzer, executive director of Portland’s Downtown District, which is working with the other local groups and the city to develop the system.

“The principal goal is to move traffic in a way we want it to move, along the best and most efficient routes,” she said. “But we also want tell drivers, ‘here’s something you might want to see.'”

The signs will be installed at key intersections within the peninsula, as well as near the University of Southern Maine, the rail and bus terminal at Thompson’s Point, and the airport.

Consistent, recognizable color coding will be used to guide drivers to six districts within the city: the East and West Ends, downtown, the waterfront, Bayside and Parkside. Other signs will direct travelers to popular sites and cultural attractions within the districts.

To make the signs quickly understandable to passing drivers, the city may need to take some liberty in defining the districts, according to senior planner Bill Needleman.

“There may be individual blocks where the boundaries of a district are generalized,” Needleman said. But overall, the areas will be clearly recognizable, he emphasized.

Work on the sign system is still in the early stages, with the city, community groups and a consultant now deciding where the new signs will be installed. Their content and design still need to be developed, a process that will include public input.

William Hall can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 106 or [email protected]. Follow him on Twitter: @hallwilliam4.

Sidebar Elements

One of the aging “hoop” signs on the Portland peninsula, which would be replaced by a new sign system. This sign on Franklin Street near Commercial Street guides drivers to the international ferry, which has not operated since 2009.