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The contents of this report reflect the views of the author(s), who is responsible for the facts and the accuracy of the data presented herein. The contents do not necessarily reflect the official views or policies of the Virginia Department of Transportation, the Commonwealth Transportation Board, or the Federal Highway Administration. This report does not constitute a standard, specification, or regulation. Any inclusion of manufacturer names, trade names, or trademarks is for identification purposes only and is not to be considered an endorsement.


Evaluation of the Historic Triangle Wayfinding Sign System
Benjamin H. Cottrell, Jr.
Benjamin H. Cottrell, Jr.
Year: 2009
VTRC No.: 09-R12
Abstract: The "Historic Triangle" in Virginia is named for the historic areas comprising and surrounding Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown, Virginia. A Historic Triangle Wayfinding Sign System was designed to lead travelers from I-64 to historic sites in Williamsburg, Jamestown, and Yorktown. This wayfinding sign system was an integral part of their planning for the Jamestown 2007 commemoration for the 400th anniversary of the founding of Jamestown, which was the first permanent settlement in Virginia and Colonial America. A gateway sign was placed at the beginning of major corridors in the area, and trailblazer signs were used to direct travelers to specific destinations. Because this type of sign system is not in the Manual of Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD), the Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT) submitted, and the Federal Highway Administraton approved, a request to experiment with these signs in accordance with the MUTCD. The purpose of this study was to conduct an evaluation of the Historic Triangle Wayfinding Sign System to determine its effectiveness in providing motorists with guidance and directional information. There were three main tasks in the study: a motorist survey, a legibility study of the script font on the trailblazer signs, and a before-and-after crash analysis. The focus was on the trailblazer signs. This fullfilled VDOT's obligation to document the results of the signage experiment. The Federal Highway Administration recognized the value of such signs by proposing a section on wayfinding signs for inclusion in the MUTCD. The signs were very helpful to the motorists surveyed. The Colonial Williamsburg script font was found to be easy to read and had a legibility distance about equal to that for the standard font on the wayfinding signs. The crash analysis showed that the signs had no effect on crashes. These smaller interstate gateway signs should be adequate based on the typical letter height of 12 inches for interstate signs and non-interstate gateway signs. There are many benefits to the Historic Triangle Wayfinding Sign System, including improved navigation and guidance to tourist destinations.