Visitors to Fort Smith will have blue wayfinding signs to direct them to points of interest throughout the city. The Fort Smith Advertising & Promotions Commission put up the first of 28 signs Thursday (July 18) at the intersection of Highway 271 and Zero Street.
The new sign directs travelers to downtown, the visitor’s center and Chaffee Crossing. More signs will be installed over the next several days and weeks, said Claude Legris, executive director of the Fort Smith A&P.
The commission approved entering into a contract with Graphic House of Wausau, Wis., in November. The 28 signs – along with 13 signs for Van Buren and eight for Alma – were delivered to Fort Smith in February. They have been stored at Chaffee Crossing, with Van Buren and Alma taking possession of theirs earlier this year.
Coordination of the effort with Alma and Van Buren was done to get a “quantity discount,” Legris said. Van Buren and Alma worked independently to order their wayfinding signs, but all have the same design in different colors, he said. The Fort Smith signs cost about $160,000 and were funded by the Fort Smith A&P.
“This has been five years in the making,” Legris said.
Putting up the signs is a tedious process because all signs must meet state and local regulations, depending on the sight, and in some case, must have the approval of private property owners. Still, Legris hopes the signs will all be up and helping visitors by fall.
The Fort Smith signs will direct traffic to such locations as the Fort Smith Convention Center, Temple Live, Parrot Island, area parks, the University of Arkansas at Fort Smith, Chaffee Crossing, Arkansas College of Health Education and more, including eventually the U.S. Marshals Museum.
Regulations state have direct to an attraction and not to a commercial business, but because Temple Live and Parrot Island are considered attractions, they qualify, Legris said.
“Most people get places now with the help of some type of GPS device. But these signs will let them know they are on the right track. It will get them to where they can see the sign for (whatever attraction) they are trying to find,” Legris said.