New Haven wayfinding signs getting makeover

NEW HAVEN >> New signs are coming to show us how to get from here to there.

The city’s vehicular wayfinding signs, designed some 25 years ago by Mary Ann Rumney of Rumney Associates in Madison, are going to get a makeover.

In addition, a whole new set of signs directing pedestrians and cyclists will be added downtown, to help visitors and residents alike.

With some $460,000 on hand, 80 percent of which came from the Federal Highway Administration, the city put the project out to bid and picked Merje Design to come up with options.

Two members of the company presented the work to a few dozen business owners, city officials and interested parties Tuesday night at City Hall to get feedback.

Another public meeting will be held before the designs are finalized by the end of July.

Fabricators then will be chosen in another bidding process, with the estimated 100 pedestrian and cycling signs downtown given priority over the vehicular signs.

Installation for the pedestrian directions are expected to begin in spring 2015.

Anne Hartjen, the senior project manager and landscape architect in the City Planning Department, said the 150 vehicular signs around the city will be put up depending on how much money is left over.

She said they will be designed so if more funds are identified, the project can move ahead easily.

The vehicular signs must follow federal rules and cannot be used to point out private entities.

They will be used to direct drivers to parks, the government center, parking and hospitals, but Reed said they can point out the New Haven Museum and the Peabody Museum as unique to the city’s culture, said Peter Reed, the senior designer at the firm.

Reed said all of the existing vehicular signs will be replaced, or if they are redundant, they will be removed.

He said they have been walking around downtown checking out the current signage, looking at the condition of the existing poles to see if they can be reused to save funds that can be put toward more signs.

Hartjen said they are covering about 35 to 50 signs per day.

Some examples showed a pedestrian sign in the Ninth Square that estimated how many blocks and the time it would take to walk to Yale University, the New Haven Green, Union Station and Wooster Square.

They also probably will add a generic reference to museums and theaters and possibly unique symbols that play off landmarks.

The team seemed to be leaning toward shades of green for the pedestrian signs and will keep away from Yale University’s blue color.

There was a suggestion to show where a walker can go in a five- to 10-minute circle downtown.

Hartjen said they haven’t decided how they will phase in the vehicular signs, but may pick a particular route and do it in its entirety, rather than mixing and matching the old and new signs.

By Mary O’Leary, New Haven Register