Gainesville officials have selected a design template for new wayfinding signs in the city, a first step toward construction and installation.
The three-year project includes placing welcome signs, directional markers and points of interest maps at key locations throughout Gainesville.
“Gateway” signs will be placed at three exits along Interstate 985, as well as along Dawsonville Highway, as a way to welcome people to the city.
Secondary welcome signs will be placed along Thompson Bridge Road, Cleveland Highway and Browns Bridge Road.
The city will need to obtain right-of-way permission from the Georgia Department of Transportation before proceeding.
City officials will then bid out a contract to build the signs. Once a firm is on board, officials said manufacturing will take eight to 10 weeks, and installation another two to three weeks.
The way-finding signage is aimed at motorists, pedestrians and bicyclists alike, pointing both residents and visitors to various destinations in Gainesville, including tourist attractions, shopping centers, parks and more. It’s part of a larger tourism marketing effort.
“This is just another way to continue branding our city,” Gainesville spokeswoman Catiel Felts said in an email. “Since Jesse Jewell and EE Butler are state routes ... (tourists) could go through Gainesville and never see our beautiful downtown or our attractions. The directional signage will help guide them to a number of local attractions, parks and government facilities.”
Additional signs could include interpretive displays at local parks and historic sites.
Sky Design, a firm with offices in Atlanta and San Francisco, was hired to design the signs at a cost of $33,000. About $975,000 has been budgeted for the entire project, including installation.
City officials said they chose the design for both its functionality and artistic appeal. The sign design includes stone and wave-like graphics symbolizing Lake Lanier.
City officials said the design is meant to blend the old with the new.
The one major point of discussion about the design was how the “Gainesville” lettering should read on welcome signs: left to right, up or down?
Sky Design representatives said that spelling out “Gainesville” from the bottom up is easier to read and standard industry practice.
Councilman Sam Couvillon said he preferred the lettering to be top down, but jokingly added, “The lettering is not a deal breaker for me.”
Councilman Bob Hamrick expressed concerns about vandalism, but officials believe the signs do not present the kind of large, blank canvas that graffiti artists like to tag.
Mayor Danny Dunagan said the design has a lot of appeal.
“I like the concept,” he said. “It will put a face on Gainesville.”