New sign system will help point motorists, pedestrians in the right direction

Monday, November 12, 2012
Ron Putz, left, and Tommy Nunnally of Canedy Sign and Graphics install one of Cape Girardeau’s new wayfinding signs along Highway 74 last week. Fifty-three signs will be installed throughout the city to help direct motorists and pedestrians to various attractions around town. (Laura Simon)

A new system of directional signage is guiding Cape Girardeau visitors around town.

Whether people are looking for the water park, nature center, casino or the riverfront, more than 50 new signs are popping up throughout the city to help get them there.

Canedy Sign & Graphics in Cape Girardeau received a $220,000 contract to fabricate and install the wayfinding signage system, Casey Brunke, Cape Girardeau city engineer, said.

Isle Casino Cape Girardeau provided funding for the signage in accordance with a provision of its original development agreement with the city.

"From early on, Isle has been focused on the revitalization of downtown including the ability to help travelers find their way to both our casino and other downtown attractions," said Jill Alexander, Isle spokeswoman.

Under the development agreement, the casino each month is to pay three-tenths of 1 percent of its gross gaming revenue to the city to be deposited in a Riverfront Region Economic Development Fund. The fund finances improvements intended to benefit downtown commercial and riverfront areas. Seventy percent of the funds must go toward capital improvements, according to the agreement.

The city, along with the Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau and Old Town Cape, has been working on the wayfinding system since 2010, when the three entities received a Preserve America Grant through the National Park Service. About $40,000 of the $126,000 grant was used to study needs and create a plan for the wayfinding system, said Marla Mills, executive director of Old Town Cape. The remainder went toward downtown rebranding and marketing efforts as well as new downtown light pole banners.

The grant provided funds to hire AECOM, a consulting firm, to review existing wayfinding, of which the city had little, to determine what the signs would include and where they would be installed.

Two public meetings were held in 2010 to gain the input of community members.

"The grant put the project in a ready phase so it took less time once the funding was in place to move into implementation," Mills said.

The new system is a method to direct people, but it is about more than just erecting signs, she said.

"It also gives some character and personality to your community. [It] helps not just direct people, but direct them in the way you want them to go," Mills said. "It's about making people feel comfortable in your community. The more comfortable people feel in your community, the more places they will go."

Included in the 53-sign project are nine kiosks to be installed along Broadway and Main Street that will feature maps and visitor information, Brunke said.

"It goes from big picture -- signs as you're coming off the interstate -- to more detailed directional signage to point you to specific places when you are walking downtown," Mills said.

Canedy work crews began installing the signage in late October, beginning with larger signs along main roadways. Many smaller signs will be placed downtown on existing light poles, Brunke said.

Installation should be completed by year's end, and some signs may be added to indicate public parking.

Cape Girardeau Convention and Visitors Bureau executive director Chuck Martin views the wayfinding system as a great addition to the community; one that provides directions to visitors' final destinations.

mmiller@semissourian.com

388-3646

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Cape Girardeau, MO

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